Imagine for a moment that the agenda for your next team meeting started with a “mindful moment”. As you walk towards the meeting room, you are confused. You don’t recall seeing this on the agenda in the past. What does it mean? You become nervous. What did you need to do (that you have not done) to prepare? What is a mindful moment anyway?
You sit down and notice others pointing to that agenda item as your manager walks in and begins to chair the meeting by asking everyone to close their eyes and take 3 deep breaths.
What would you think, feel and do?
Anyone who can breathe can use mindfulness. Your breath is the bridge between your body and mind. Your diaphragm is the only muscle in the body that is both voluntary and involuntary. In other words, your body can automatically breathe by itself or you can consciously choose to do so. I believe this is so for a reason. It’s the control centre for our mind.
Learning yet another skill can feel like you are adding to a task list that is already overflowing. But, what if a particular skill helped you to improve focus, become more productive and helped your overall well-being. Would you still feel the need to ignore it? Many of us use outdated means to prioritise our work, starting with the outside in. We let emails, phone calls and others dictate our priorities. I teach the skill of leading from the inside out. Identifying key rituals that nurture and support you both at home and work.
These rituals become a part of your life so that they do not feel like an addition to your to-do list. For example, rising 10 minutes earlier every morning and doing a simple meditation before you hit the shower and again as soon as you return home from work will “bookend your day” as Dr Craig Hassad puts it. Research shows that a regular practice of 10 minutes twice per day makes an enormous impact on how your day will flow.
What are the benefits of practising Mindfulness at Work?
Mindfulness increases your ability to notice your thoughts and emotions, which in turn acts as a pause button. This is helpful because you can control your actions and reactions, even when facing a highly stressful or emotional situation, thus possibly leading to different results.
This is not an opportunity to zone out or opt out of reality or pretending that the problem does not exist. Rather, mindfulness is a chance to recognise what is really going on right now, how you feel about it and then make conscious decisions about how you will respond. As Thich Nhat Hanh says “meditation is not evasion. It’s a serene encounter with reality”.
In a work setting, it’s particularly useful as it can help teams to resolve conflict, enhance relationships, connect with clients and customers in a more authentic way and make focused decisions about priorities.
How to be Mindful at Work
- Start your day by scheduling your key priorities, ensuring you book in time for breaks.
- As you are walking to meetings, use your breath to ground your mind and consciously choose to pay attention and stay present with what arises in the meeting.
- During stressful and emotionally charged situations, notice your breath and see if you can take deeper breaths. This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps your biochemistry to calm down. Then make decisions from this centred and expanded space.
- Make conscious choices about the hours you work. Working longer will not improve the quality or productivity of your work.