I’m sure you have found yourself in either of these situations before: 1) having just left the house after rushing around in order to leave for work or your appointment on time, you suddenly panic and wonder, ‘Did I remember to switch of the sandwich press/the straightening irons/the oven before I left the house?’ Or 2) you are driving with an end destination in mind, but you miss your turn off and don’t realise until 10 minutes later. These moments are slightly panic-inducing and frustrating. If you think about these moments you’ll realise that your mind was not fully on the present task at the time. It was elsewhere.
Paying attention, on purpose
It’s difficult to define the opposite of being mindful. It’s easier to understand what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to what is in front of you or around you. One way to practice this is to use your fives senses and focus on each one, one at a time – what you can see (notice textures and shapes), what you can hear, the taste and texture of food, smells and touch. This mindfulness activity focuses your attention on the here and now.
Notice without Judging
One of the most practised mindfulness techniques is to focus on the breath. Try sitting still and focusing your mind on nothing but the physical act of breathing in and out. When your mind wanders, you simply draw it back to focus on the breath. This is challenging and more difficult than it sounds. Mindfulness experts will gently suggest that a wandering mind is normal and that with practice, you can refocus without berating or judging yourself. Perhaps this exercise in itself is a useful one. Being kind to ourselves is something we all need to practice.
Mindfulness vs meditation
There are many forms of meditation, including contemplation and visualisation, but mindfulness (and it’s sometimes called mindfulness meditation just to confuse you) is the type where you bring your full attention to an object. While the ultimate goal with some types of meditation is to transcend thought itself into a state of pure awareness, with mindfulness, the ultimate goal is always to be in the present moment, with greater clarity and focus. In this way, you can see how mindfulness applies in the workplace.
Mindfulness at Work
The benefits of mindfulness are seen at work in the following ways (sourced from PositivePsychologyProgramme.com):
- Decreased stress – mindfulness allows our brain to practice new ways of coping, identifying what is important and focusing on one thing at a time.
- Enhanced mental health and functioning – mindfulness allows your body to operate the parasympathetic nervous system (where the body digests, rests, recovers, and builds the immune system).
- Increased emotion regulation and self-control – by practising to accept situations and identifying what can and can’t be controlled.
- Decreased anxiety and depression – provides the tools needed to step back from intense negative emotions, identify them, and accept them instead of fighting them.
- Improved social and relational skills – by building empathy and awareness.
- Reduced symptoms of burnout – mindfulness boosts energy and focus.
- Enhanced job performance – decision-making abilities, attention spans and connection are all improved.
Give mindfulness a try and notice the changes in your life.
Date: Thursday 6 June 2019 & Thursday 20 June 2019
Time: 1pm – 3:30pm
Investment: $355 + GST & optional $150 + GST for one-on-one coaching.
Written by Chantell Bramley