Mindfulness – we hear so much about it that the word alone can lead to eye rolls. The mindfulness hype often complicates the concept, putting people off using an incredibly powerful tool.
However, mindfulness is actually a very simple concept. At its most basic, mindfulness is the art of paying attention to the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude.
Sounds simple enough, however this is one of the hardest skills for humans to harness.
In the 21st century we live in, our brains are constantly occupied in things other than the present moment, particularly at work. How many times have you been in a meeting while at the same time thinking about your grocery list, replying to emails, working on an ongoing project, and remembering something you forgot to do at work yesterday? Very rarely we have a moment to be still and silent in our modern era. This can often lead to high levels of stress and burnout, impacting our mental and physical health.
However, when we approach activities with a ‘beginner’s mind’, we can start to engage in the world around us and notice huge differences. Mindfulness practice is simple, powerful, takes just a few minutes and can be done almost anywhere, so it can be a great addition to your everyday mental health self-care, especially when you are at work.
Mindfulness is nothing new – the technique has much in common with traditional Buddhist teachings and Eastern philosophies. However, it was first integrated into the West and into psychological therapies in the late 1970s and since that point, masses of studies have been carried out showing its benefits.
Some of the key findings from scientific studies have found that mindfulness:
Here are a few tips on how to integrate mindfulness into your working day:
Technological advances have revolutionised our world and the way we live within it. However, it can also be a huge distraction from reality as well as highly addictive. Technology also encourages us to become highly reactive – immediately dropping our attention when we hear the buzz of our phone or emails. This can lead to reduced productivity and increased stress levels.
Try to bring awareness and mindfulness to your use of technology when at work
i.Intention setting: pause for a moment before you begin the day of work and set the intention of being as present as you can be during the day
ii.Use mindful reminders: Set a reminder to prompt you to become aware of what is happening for you in the present moment. This might be an alarm on your phone, a sticky note on your desk, or assigning activities during the day as your mindful moments – e.g. when you eat lunch.
i.Connect to your senses: think of one thing you can hear, one thing you can smell, one thing you can touch
ii.Take a breath: Pause and take one or two deep breaths paying attention to how each breath feels
iii.Notice what your mind says to you when you think about taking a mindful moment – do thoughts like ‘I don’t have time for this’, ‘this is stupid’, ‘I’m too busy’ come up? That’s normal! Our brains are our worst critics. Notice and allow your resistance to the activity.
You might like to organise your time into activity chunks e.g. check emails, project work, and try to focus on each activity one after the other.
Mindfulness meditation involves spending specific time focusing on your senses and allowing your thoughts to come and go calmly, without judging or trying to change them.
i.sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing (if this is difficult to do count your breaths as they pass up to a count of 10 and start again).
ii. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgement and return your focus on your breathing.
The Workshop Lab offers Mindfulness workshops and programs which have been specifically designed for busy workplaces. Participants will learn the science-based benefits of Mindfulness and how they can apply it to reduce stress and return to a state of calm. Conducted by popular, highly experienced Mindfulness experts across Australia, these workshops have proven to deliver exceptional benefits. Workshops go for 1 – 2 hours.
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