WHAT IS MINDFULNESS
[mkd_blockquote text=”Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]
The concept of mindfulness originates in Buddhist and Hindu cultures ranging back thousands of years. But over the last 50 or so years, mindfulness has grown in popularity due to the work of greats like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Thich Nhat Hnah, and so many more.
Mindfulness is our innate ability to be fully present in the moment; to be aware of where we are and what we are doing without reaction or judgment. Yes, it is an instinctive skill that we are all capable of and with just a little work we can access and cultivate it.
By definition, mindfulness is a very simple concept. Take mindful walking, for example, it involves nothing more than focusing completely on the act of walking, sounds simple right? Yet, by no means is it EASY. It involves tuning into our emotions, feelings, and sensations which can, for most of us, be quite uncomfortable. Something we spend most of our life avoiding
Mindfulness is a PRACTICE. As with most of activities you’ll find in this book; with consistency, patience, and kindness we are able to reap the many, well-researched benefits of living and acting mindfully.
The best part is, living mindfully doesn’t require spending hours a day sitting on a meditation cushion. You can incorporate mindfulness into just about any activity you do throughout your day, at home, at work, and beyond.
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to mindfulness is that it is about stopping your thoughts from happening or completely shutting off. It’s actually quite the opposite that happens. When you become more mindful, you become a curious and calm witness to your inner life. You are freed from the being affected by the constant thoughts, judgments, and reactions. You observe, without reaction. The “space” that mindfulness opens up gives you the opportunity to see the world around you with a fresh perspective.
MINDFULNESS AT WORK
Mindfulness at work is becoming such a priority that Aetna opened a Mindfulness Center for staff and Google and Nike offer relaxations rooms for meditation. Other major companies are jumping on the mindfulness program bandwagon as well, some of these companies include Apple, McKinsey & Company, Deutsche Bank, Procter & Gamble and General Mills.
You may be thinking, ‘that’s nice but how does that relate to me?’ Your day is full of meetings, distractions, and lunch in front of your computer. Incorporating your own mindfulness practice at work doesn’t have to take hours out of your day, it could be the matter of just 60 seconds.
Mindful working means applying focus and awareness to everything you do from the moment you enter the office. Focus on the task at hand and recognize and release internal and external distractions as they arise. Over time, being mindful can help increase effectiveness, decrease mistakes, and enhance creativity.
Five easy ways to be mindful at work
1. Apply mindfulness to your inbox
Most of us have an email addiction, our attention gets seduced by the ping of an email hitting our inbox. When we react to this, our attention gets redirected to a lower-priority task. To get a better start to your day, avoid checking emails first thing.
2. Mindfulness in meetings
To avoid entering a meeting with a wandering mind, take 60 seconds before entering to focus on your breathing or mindfully walk to the boardroom. This will help you enter the meeting with more focus, awareness, and attention to the task at hand.
3. Mindfulness in the face of stress
When you feel your anxiety levels rising and like you are being buried by tasks, take a minute to focus on slowing your breath down. The act of focusing on your breathing, particularly the outbreath stimulates, with the help of the Vagus nerve, the parasympathetic nervous system. Slowing your breath can actually signal to the rest of your body that everything is ok, causing your heart rate to slow and your brain to get out of the ‘fight-or-flight’ mode.
4. Mindfulness at lunch
When was the last time you took a proper lunch break? The kind where you leave your desk and enjoy your lunch while chatting with your colleagues, read a book, or took a walk? It can be so tempting to power through the hour and get more things ticked off your to-do list but it’s actually more beneficial for you to step away and relax for a little bit. Taking a deliberate break and detaching from work can improve concentration, improve efficiency, and reduce the afternoon slump.
5. Forget multitasking
Focus fully on one task at a time. You can even set a time and for the next, say 20 minutes, focus only on ONE thing. Putting yourself fully into one thing is far more effective than spreading yourself thin across tasks.