(Written collaboratively with, and from a concept by, our own Ammber Doyle)
When we enter the shop at the start of our shift we may have a million things going on in our heads. From wrangling cranky kids who refuse to go to school, to a frustrating traffic jam on the way to work, to stressing about moving house on the weekend. These distracting thoughts and difficulties can divert attention away from our tasks, cause us to make errors, and leave us with less patience for our team and customers. Rather than start our day with a negative mindset, we can disengage from these thoughts through practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is driving a great deal of discussion lately, and with good reason. What once might have been thought of a new-age concept now appears with regularity in business blogs and magazines, far from the ‘spiritual’ connotation it once carried. With so many distractions in our increasingly busy lives, we can have trouble bringing our minds to focus or simply switching off from constant thought and worry. Mindfulness meditation can give you the tools to maintain focus, feel more at ease, and make it through your busy day.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” – mindful.org
Consider taking a moment for mindfulness every morning to center yourself, either individually or with your team, to reap the many benefits of the practice, such as reduced stress, minimised errors due to increased attentiveness, a greater sense of clarity, enhanced creativity, better productivity and boosted morale. Though you may think of mindfulness or meditation as some spiritual, difficult practice, mindfulness meditation requires no special postures or learning. It’s as simple as sitting still and breathing.
The simplest form of mindfulness meditation can be done sitting in your office chair and can be achieved in only a few minutes. Perhaps you can do this over a cup of tea or coffee before attacking that inbox or whilst the tunnel dryers and presses are warming up.
- Simply sit comfortably, place your feet flat on the floor;
- Close your eyes and focus on feeling your breath naturally come in and out;
- Wherever you feel that sensation. As distracting thoughts about the day, jobs that need to be done, or other concerns come up, acknowledge these thoughts, and return your focus to feeling your breath. If it helps, you can imagine those thoughts floating by like leaves on the surface of a river; they exist, but they don’t need to be chased.
- All you have to do is sit quietly and breathe; if there are distracting sounds in your shop, don’t fight the distraction, just let yourself have a passive curiosity; listen to the sound without thinking about what it is or what it means.
- Once you’ve done this for a couple of minutes, you can stand up, stretch, and get to your first task.
Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it will be easy. It takes practice to be at ease with the thoughts going by, so let yourself simply try. Any effort will increase your resilience and allow you to more easily shrug off the distractions you encounter throughout the day.
Aside from meditation, Mantras and affirmations can also help set a tone for your day. Stopping to say and consider a daily mantra before your first project can help you set your intentions and develop a more proactive and positive frame of mind. Having a phrase in the back of our mind gives you a point to which you can return when you lose focus; just remember to release yourself from the outcomes and keep these positive; sometimes a mantra or affirmation can be as simple as a statement or watchword you want to keep in mind, sometimes they will be an action you want to take or a more nuanced concept to consider. Say one to yourself, repeat it, and think about its meaning; after you’ve had a moment to internalize your phrase of the day, you can refer to it throughout the day to refresh that feeling of purpose.
Here are some examples that you can use. Adapt them or create new versions that resonate better with you, your team, or your shop. They can be printed out and pinned up around the place as gentle reminders of your intentions, purpose, and the true gift it can be to work as a decorator.
- Do the little things well and the big things will follow: the latter is made of the former.
- Each order is part of a cherished dream, event, gift, or calling to my customer. I will care for them all equally and completely.
- I am grateful for the opportunity to create products that are of value. I will bring value to every order;
- I will treat each order as though it were for myself or a member of my family;
- I will be supportive of my team and provide understanding, and encouragement;
- Today, I will do something kind and unexpected for a customer or member of my team;
- I will take ownership of my mistakes and take lessons from them without being attached to a single outcome. Every order is a new chance to learn and do well;
- I will look for the beauty in my craft and my abilities;
- I will be compassionate with customers, even in difficulty. I have not walked in their shoes and do not know what personal challenges they face;
- I am thankful to work for a shop that believes in my abilities and for the income my role brings to support myself and my family.
- I choose to be present and work with a focussed mind.
- I am grateful for another day to make a positive contribution.
- I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
- I will try my best to see the good first in everything. I will look for opportunity and I will grow.
- I am capable of dealing with whatever I encounter. I can’t control all outcomes, but I can control my actions and my reactions.