Mindfulness has become quite the buzzword in the quest for peace and fulfilment amid the pressures of modern life.
A simple meditative technique, it is designed to focus the mind while reducing the “brain chatter” that can make it difficult to think clearly and relax.
It involves being mentally connected with the physical side of “being in the moment” - focusing on the here and now, rather than going through life’s experiences on autopilot.
Mindfulness, originally an ancient form of Buddhist meditation, has become so popular that City finance houses are recommending it to stressed employees.
Some schools are adopting the practice to help pupils focus; even the NHS recommends it as a way of coping with depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
And Champneys luxury health spas host regular lectures on mindfulness. Steve Braithwaite, who works with their guests on mindfulness techniques, prefers the term “mind fitness” because he believes it is as much about creating positive thinking as being in the here and now.
“Everyone’s trying to get themselves into ‘the moment’,” says Braithwaite. “The ‘here and now’ is the place that we all want to be.
“But actually, we’re already there – well, at least our bodies are. All we really need to do is get the mind engaged in the moment, too, and we can all be living more mindfully.”
Braithwaite says that when he gives his talks in the wonderful surroundings at Champneys – all four centres are based in the heart of beautiful English countryside – guests experience what he describes as “light-bulb moments”.
He says: “We make it hard on our brains to be mindful. We’re constantly multi-tasking and not just trying to stay up to speed – we’re always looking for ways to get ahead.
“We spend so much time thinking about how we’re going to get to the next place we want to be in life that we forget to enjoy the journey.
"When you live in the moment you learn to see the here and now as the most stress-free place you can ever be.”
Braithwaite has three tips for improving your mind fitness. “They’re really simple,” he says.
“First, wake up in the morning and find three things to be grateful for - ideally something in your home life, something connected to your work and something that you enjoy doing.
“Those three areas are really important to your personal wealth. If you feel rich in those elements of your life, your outlook will be extremely positive.
“That’s why it’s good to start your day totting up that personal wealth so you can take that with you into your day.”
Throughout the day, Braithwaite says, “be positive” – and by that he means work on self-belief. “Successful people tell themselves ‘I can’ and ‘I will’. They do things firmly believing they will be successful from the start.”
And the day should end with a calm mind. “Turn that chatter off in your mind by connecting with your body.
“So focus not on the thoughts charging through your brain, but the simple sensation of your stomach rising and falling as you breath. It’s a very simple but extremely effective way of switching off.
“Mindfulness is about enjoying life moment by moment, rather than stressing about what does or doesn’t lie ahead of you. It’s about seeing each moment as a gift to be experienced as it happens, instead of sleepwalking through it while your mind is on something else.”
HSBC and your personal economy
Many believe the practice of “mindfulness” can enhance life experiences, and its growing popularlity reflects that experience is a core element of your personal economy. Your personal economy represents the health of your whole financial life.
It incorporates all the things you value most – your experiences, your family, your home, your passions and your work. It’s complex, constantly changing and – most importantly – unique to you. That’s why HSBC Premier Relationship Managers provide personal support for your personal economy.