There’s no doubt that meditation plays a huge part in accessing a more mindful and peaceful lifestyle, but mindful practice doesn’t stop when we’re not meditating. There are opportunities to practise mindfulness everywhere in life, and work is no exception. In fact, given that we spend the majority of our week at work and that for many of us, work can be a significant contributor to stress; it presents a wealth of opportunities to really develop our mindfulness skills.
Here are three simple ways you can put your mindfulness skills in to practice in the workplace:
1. Focus your attention – the power of present moment awareness.
On a busy workday there can be so many distractions and tasks to complete that it can become very difficult to focus on one thing. We can often become so overwhelmed by our to do list that procrastination sets in; we cut corners or find ourselves constantly multi-tasking. All of these natural reactions can lead to stress, worry and potentially unnecessary mistakes.
Through mindfulness training, we learn to bring our attention to our immediate and present experience, to fully engage and commit to our point of focus. By applying this principle at work we allow our attention to be in the present moment, focus on the task in hand and deal with what’s here now, rather than what we still need to do.
Work based practice:
In the next meeting you attend, practise actively paying attention. Observe and make a note of how often your mind wanders away. Then in a subsequent meeting actively practise bringing your attention back to the present moment whenever it wanders away, trying to remain fully focused on the meeting, just as you would when your mind wanders in a formal meditation. Notice and evaluate how it affects the meeting: what was different? How did you feel? Did your colleagues respond differently?
2. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable
Mindfulness training teaches us how uncomfortable it can be to just sit still. Through acceptance of sitting with discomfort we learn to; let go of the things we can’t control, acknowledge things as they are, not how we want them to be, be more confident in our own skin and to be at ease with ourselves. This cultivates a natural confidence in being who we are, whatever the situation.
Work based practice:
Make a note of two or three things that annoy you at work. It could be as simple as the technology not working or a more challenging irritation, such as dealing with a difficult or impolite client. Explore what it feels like to relax in to these difficult moments and to be deliberately and consciously at ease. What inhibits you? What do you realise about the situation or yourself? Is your mind in the present, the past or the future? Can you find the root cause of the irritation? As a result of becoming more comfortable with the uncomfortable, you’ll be better equipped to deal with these situations and demonstrate more control, which will lead to greater confidence.
3. See other perspectives
How we experience life is dependent on our perspective and attitude. At work, a person in the marketing department will probably have a very different viewpoint than a member of the finance or procurement team for example. Mindfulness trains us to see different points of view by developing acceptance, non-judgement and impartiality. This leads to a greater sense of empathy, an ability to be more creative and mentally agile and to not take things so personally. We learn to listen more attentively and empathetically and to build understanding of other people’s perspectives.
Work based practice:
Before dealing with a difficult situation – e.g. a challenging conversation or negotiation, consider and take time to write down the viewpoint or priority of the other person. Consider their needs, goals or KPI’s. What would success look like for them? Have you made any assumptions? Have you really listened and taken on board feedback and facts, which could help diffuse the situation or make for a more mutually successful or agreeable outcome?
Meditation helps us unlock and train our power of awareness and is the fundamental training we need to help us become more mindful in our everyday lives. It cultivates our mindfulness skills, which are incredibly valuable at work.
So when you’re writing your to do list for work tomorrow, don’t forget to add ‘practice mindfulness’ to your list! You and your colleagues will be glad you did!
By Melissa Perkins, owner and creator of The Kindfulness Effect.
Melissa spent 15 years as a manager in a global company before becoming an English language teacher and now also a mindfulness, meditation and yoga teacher.Following a life-changing event in 2007, studying and attaining a degree in psychology and philosophy, her aforementioned career change, and through receipt of positive feedback on her teaching style from students and colleagues, she was inspired to set up The Kindfulness Effect. “I’m very passionate about how compassion for yourself, others and the planet, can genuinely improve your overall wellbeing. Practising Kindfulness reminds you to be forgiving, compassionate and friendly while being mindful. This all results in feeling grateful and so the cycle continues” For more information about The Kindfulness Effect, please subscribe to my website or follow me on Facebook and Instagram.