The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

5 Tips for Using Mindfulness to Calm Your Day — February 1, 2013

5 Tips for Using Mindfulness to Calm Your Day

Elise BialylewMindful in May creator and Fetch ambassador Elise Bialylew

Mindfulness is the new black. It is an effective mental technique, borrowed from the two thousand year old Buddhist contemplative practice and adapted to suit non-religious contexts, including board rooms, corporations, hospitals, schools and sports teams.

It is a practice that supports the capacity to stay focussed on what you are doing as you are doing it, a powerful antidote to the distractible nature of the mind and the information-rich digital world. When practised regularly, it can bring more calm and effectiveness into everyday life, reducing stress and enhancing capacity.

Google has now trained over one thousand of its employees in mindfulness, recognising it’s capacity to improve wellbeing and innovation in the work place.

It is initially practiced through meditation, but can also be applied to daily activities such as eating, walking or working. It is simply the discipline of noticing what you are doing when you are doing it and becoming master rather than slave, to the impulses of the mind.

Five tips for using mindfulness to calm your day:

1. Tune in to the breath

It may sound like an irritating cliche, but there is scientific rationale for this advice. The breath is not only a powerful indicator of one’s state of mind but also a helpful modulator.

During a busy day, take a few moments to consciously tune in to the breath. Feel three breaths move in and out of the body. Then slow down the exhalation which helps to trigger the relaxation response. Extending the breath in this way sends a message to the parasympathetic nervous system (the system that opposes the stress response) to calm down the body.

2. Use your surroundings as a circuit breaker

Take moments in the day to disconnect from the flurry of to do lists and direct your attention externally by tuning in to your senses. Listen to the sounds in the room, feel your body in space, see the space you are in, notice the temperature and smells. By tuning in to your senses, just for a few moments, you give your mind a micro break from the stress of thinking.

3. Use technology with awareness

Sitting at a computer all day? Bring awareness to your posture and breath. It has been noted that email apnea, the temporary absence or suspension of breathing while doing email, means we are inadvertently creating stress in the body. When we breathe irregularly, the body becomes acidic through retention of excess carbon dioxide. This acidity may contribute to stress related diseases.

4. Simplify your to do list

Bring attention to the top three priorities of your day. Break your work time into smaller blocks for higher levels of efficiency, and take short breaks between blocks. (see the pomodoro technique for further details).

5. Use your lunch as a mindful practice

Rather than eating whilst working on the computer, or missing out on lunch altogether, use your lunch as a way of practicing mindfulness. This means, notice you are eating as you are eating, intentionally tasting your food, bringing awareness to the act of chewing. This will give your mind an opportunity to rest from the whirlwind of the day, allowing space for mind and body rejuvenation.

About our ambassador // Dr Elise Bialylew is the founder of Mindful in May, a one month mindfulness meditation challenge to support people to learn about the benefits of mindfulness and help raise money to bring clean water to the developing world. Follow @mindfulinmay. Clear mind for you, clean water for others.

Interview: Sydney local, Lauren Anderson — December 9, 2012

Interview: Sydney local, Lauren Anderson

For our last Sydney Local Profile of 2012, Solange Francois from the Fetch Community Ambassador Team posed some questions to Lauren Anderson of Collaborative Consumption.  

Name: Lauren Anderson
Twitter handle: @l__anderson 
Blogs at: http://laurenjayneanderson.tumblr.com/about
Works: Community Director at Collaborative Consumption Hub

Tell us in a few words what collaborative consumption is about:
Collaborative consumption describes the reinvention of really old market behaviours – such as bartering, swapping, lending, renting and sharing – that have been supercharged through social, mobile and location-based technologies to enable us to share and exchange all kinds of assets, in ways and on a scale that have never been possible before this time. Our work over the last 2.5 years has been to spread the idea of this socio-economic shift, connect the entrepreneurs building companies based on these principles and grow the community of people passionate about these new ways of getting access to the things we need.

What were you doing before you got involved in the movement?
I was working as communications manager of a national architectural practice, but had spent most of my spare time in the two years leading up to this new role exploring the social innovation space and volunteering with a range of social change organisations such as the Brightest Young Minds Foundation, Australian Social Innovation Exchange and Project Australia. It was these organisations that really sparked my passion for social change.

How did you finally get involved?
I was fortunate enough to meet Rachel Botsman (founder of the collaborative consumption movement) through my involvement with the Brightest Young Minds Foundation. When I heard her describe this cultural shift that was the foundation of her first book, ‘What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption’, I was absolutely hooked by its potential and when Rachel asked me to join with her and grow the movement around the launch of the book, I couldn’t refuse! It has been such an incredible, eye-opening and life-changing experience so far, and I am so grateful to be on this path.

What makes you jump out of bed every day?

I am constantly inspired by innovative ideas that really question the way we live our life and that make it easier for us to be more conscious citizens, and also the role that technology has to play in that.

From businesses like GoGet car share, to services such as FoodConnect and ideas such as co-working and Airbnb peer-to-peer accommodation, we are getting connected back to what’s important – our community and our environment.

What are other issues that you are passionate about?
I am really passionate about the role women play in business and government, and want to make a contribution to encouraging more women’s voices to be heard – which is both about creating the opportunities within our current society and also doing more to encourage women to get involved in the first place.

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by women like Jacqueline Novogratz, who founded Acumen Fund, an investment fund focused on social innovation solutions in emerging markets. I’m also inspired by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and the commitment she shows not only to being a stellar career person, but also living a balanced life with her family.

Have there been challenges along the way in your career? How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I have faced personally is giving myself permission to dream big enough and then acting upon those dreams.

I think it’s a rare thing for Australians to truly believe anything is possible, and while there are some incredible high achievers in this country, we generally doubt ourselves more than believe in ourselves. Having exposure to some incredible entrepreneurs overseas and surrounding myself with highly creative people helps me to dream bigger and make better things happen!

What books are you currently reading?
I have slowly been trying to get my way through the amazing reading list of 99 Best Business Books’ on The Personal MBA’s site, and am currently finishing ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini, ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ by Steven Johnson and Katie Couric’s ‘The Best Advice I Ever Got’. Reading these is interspersed with me watching The West Wing series for the first time!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with The Fetch, Lauren!

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Solange Francois. She is a marketer and lover of creativity, great words, people and ads and has a passion for psychology and lifelong learning. You can connect with Solange through her blog or on Twitter @solangefrancois

Interview: Melbourne local, Danny Almagor — September 3, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Danny Almagor

Name: Danny Almagor
Website: www.smallgiants.com.au
Twitter handle(s): @atanajurat
Works: Late at night.

What is Small Giants and where does this purpose lead you?

Small Giants is a company dedicated to creating nurturing and supporting businesses we think are making the world a better place. It leads us to meeting lots of amazing people.

Congratulations on being awarded Ernest & Young’s 2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year – how does social differ from traditional entrepreneurship and what can companies do to become more conscious of their impact?

I think the term social enterprise should be renamed ‘business as usual’ and those that do not have a social and environmental agenda should be called ‘crap business’ or ‘business that adds no real value outside of itself’. There is nothing inherently bad about profits, but there is much good in caring about the people and environment around you.

You’ve registered Australia’s first B Corporation – what is this and what does it mean for Small Giants?

B Corporations believe that we can use business to solve social and environmental problems. It is a certification guaranteeing you are the real deal in ethical and sustainable business. We feel very honored to be a B Corporation and take it very seriously. We hope that this will spawn a large community of B Corporations in Australia and together we can be a strong force for a different way of doing business here.

You’re the resident Social Entrepreneur at RMIT and were also RMIT’s Alumnus of the Year 2009 – do you think universities can create entrepreneurs? Are social entrepreneurship elements being taken across to other disciplines and courses?

My role at RMIT is a great one but it is hard to see universities, with their complexity, bureaucracy and numerous competing agendas deliver what entrepreneurs need – less complexity, bureaucracy and competing agendas. Universities must still try, but I think the school of hard knocks is the best place to learn. Start a business, by your third try, you have just become an entrepreneur. As for cross discipline and cross course work, yes, elements are being taken to various disciplines, but more work needs to be done. Social entrepreneurship is an idea that should exist in every facet of our lives, or maybe we should call it social innovation. Fashion, engineering, art, science, teaching; you name it, there is a way to impact those around you in a positive way.

What was the process like when you started Engineers without Borders and what is a humanitarian engineer to you?

A humanitarian engineer is one who sees the plight of the poor and disadvantaged as part of their mandate as an engineer. Engineers are the interface between technology and people, and as such hold an incredible power to effect meaningful and lasting change for so many people. Water, sanitation, energy, infrastructure, connectivity, access, health. As for the start of EWB, the most important trait of all for anyone starting a business or a non profit is persistence. Never give up.

“Comparison is the death of happiness” is a quote you refer to often – what are your tips for staying happy and focused?

Balance. Think Mr Miyagi in Karate Kid. The problem I find is that everything keeps changing so balance is a dynamic target, but well worth pursuing.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Melbourne?

I work in St Kilda and love it. The Sun seems to shine there more often.

What’s next and when do you stop?!

I don’t understand that last word. Actually, its 1:30am so maybe its time for bed.

What next?

Tomorrow.

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