Mindfulness: A lifestyle trend meets the event industry

‘How are you?’

It’s the number one, over used, but culturally accepted [read: expected] icebreaker. There’s something about it which helps to start the conversation on a level playing field.

But how many times have you given an automatic response? I’ll bet your standard reply is echoed a thousand times a day – ‘I’m well thanks, how are you?’. Most of the time, it’s completely unacceptable to answer honestly in this moment, so you’ll rarely respond with how you’re really feeling. Which begs the question – when was the last time you focused on you?

Like most of us in the events industry, I wake up each day with a thousand things on my mind. There’s the conference I’m organising for next week, the client meeting this afternoon, the brief that’s suddenly changed completely and the massive pitch opportunity that’s just landed… On top of that, there’s my grocery list, this evening’s dog walk, admin for my netball club and the chores I’ve been putting off. You know the drill. How is It possible that we say ‘I’m well thanks’, when our minds are so full?

The mindfulness movement really couldn’t have come at a better time.

Mindfulness | ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs | noun [mass noun]
A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique .

With its roots in Buddhism, mindfulness has filtered into popular culture, seeing more and more people ‘checking in’ with themselves more regularly than before. The pressures of real life might mean that you only have five minutes to spare, but actively taking those moments for yourself is a big step. It can make a huge difference to yourself and your results at work.

According to Forbes, event planners have once again been ranked among the top 5 most stressful careers. So how can we create a space for ourselves, during a jam-packed event schedule?

Here are some tips that work for me:

  1. Mindful breathing. Spend five minutes focusing on your breathing. Close your eyes if you can, and focus on your inhale and exhale. You don’t need to do anything to your breath – not long, not short, just natural. If your mind wanders, that’s natural; just recognise it and bring your attention back to your breathing.
  2. Be quiet. Even us extroverts need a quiet moment on our own. Find a room, or a corner, somewhere that you can just be quiet. No noise, just you and yourself. Know that everything will be okay without you for 5 minutes.
  3. People watch. You’re probably thinking, what the flip?! But seriously, everyone loves a good people watching session. Grab a coffee (or chai latte for those special ones out there), sit and take in the world around you. Get your creative juices flowing and imagine who the guy behind the counter does outside of work. Or the couple across from you (obviously on a first date), imagine what they’re really thinking. Have some fun with it, step outside of yourself and observe others.

What do you do to find a moment of calm in the chaos? How can we bring mindfulness into our own lives and allow those who come to our events to have the opportunity to ‘check in’? You might have built mindfulness zones into your space planning, or your clients may have allocated free time to practice mindfulness during their conference schedules. Maybe your whole event has been focused around mindfulness activities?

I’d love to hear your own tips for mindful success.