…Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally – Jon Kabat ZinnArticle written by Joanne O’Malley
Mindfulness refers to simply being fully present and conscious, giving your attention to what you are doing instead of ‘lost’ in the ‘whirl’ of thoughts and emotions.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness refers to simply being fully present and conscious, giving your attention to what you are doing instead of ‘lost’ in the ‘whirl’ of thoughts and emotions. So, when you are working on a particular task you can focus on just that without being distracted by email, text messages, colleagues or the thoughts in your head! Perhaps you’re ruminating over what happened yesterday “How could he have said that, that was so unfair”? Maybe, you’re worrying about something coming up, a dentist appointment or an exam? Or you may just have feelings of inadequacy “I’ll never finish this” “I can’t get it right” “what will they think about me?” Around and around the thoughts and feelings go … feeling over-burdened, confused and stressed…
Sound familiar? Research shows that most people in the workplace are in a state of ‘continuous partial attention’. The downside is not only do you miss the only moment you really have, NOW – to be, to do, to choose, to act but in addition, that state of distraction where the mind is all over the place is unpleasant, unhealthy and unproductive.
Being Mindful, moment by moment is an incredibly simple way of relating to all experience that is not stressful and changes perception. Everyone has this ability naturally, (think of a child and how present they are) but tends to lose it and spend more and more time absorbed in daydreams / personal stories as they develop. So, the capacity to stay ‘present’ is a skill that requires training.
Practicing Mindfulness trains us to stay with ourselves and our experience as it is happens moment by moment with curiosity, openness and acceptance. So, instead of our typical tendency of getting into the story and worrying about what has taken place or what might transpire, we learn to deal intelligently with what is actually taking place, whether good or bad.
Why is it getting a lot of attention now?
Steve Jobs of Apple said his meditation practice was directly responsible for his ability to concentrate and ignore distraction. The truth is that the 21st century in an ‘always on’ world. Digital technology is splitting everyone’s attention and there is no sign of this abating. Attention deficit disorder (ADD), exhaustion, anxiety, lack of focus have become the norm in many workplaces and stress is at epidemic proportions.
Mindfulness is becoming widely recognised as an antidote, an indispensible training to enable people control their attention, manage their minds/hearts and cope with the daily onslaught.
Neuroscience and MRI imaging show exciting positive changes to the structure and function of the brain after participation in an 8 Week Mindfulness course; including a reduction of gray matter in the brain’s amygdala, which is connected to anxiety and stress and increased activity in the areas associated with positive emotion and learning / memory.
Are there specific benefits for the workplace?
Yes, empirical research shows documented benefits in:
- Focus and attention
- Self-awareness and awareness of others
- Resilience and emotional intelligence
- Cognitive function
So, Mindfulness Training makes strong business sense and evidence shows:
- Reduced costs of staff absenteeism caused by illness, injury, stress
- Enhanced productivity and improved overall staff and business wellbeing
- Less staff turnover and associated costs
- Superior employer/employee and client relationships
- Obvious and real corporate responsibility position.
Reducing Stress with Mindfulness
When people practice Mindfulness, they bring calm and alert attention to each moment of their workday. Positive improvements to how they work / interact occur naturally. Participants report that they are less captive to automatic conditioned reactions, more focused, open, collaborative and discerning.
Reducing Stress with Mindfulness – Work Tips
- Participate in a Mindfulness at Work course
The course that has been rigorously tested and proven to give participants tremendous benefits in stress reduction. Life changing skills and habits are learned that change how one relates to and perceives moment by moment experience.
2. Eliminate multitasking
Research shows it is inefficient and ineffective to be constantly sidetracked by what seems urgent, reacting to email / text instead of focusing full attention on the task in hand.
3. Communicate Mindfully
Being present in mind as well as body enables real listening and dialogue in meetings / interactions. This means phones and devices are put aside and time / attention is given to open dialogue that builds rapport, enables understanding and co-operation.
4. Organise your schedule mindfully
When you pause and become present, that allows more intelligence about the best use of time.
5. Create Mindfulness Triggers
Choose everyday things that you do routinely and decide to do them mindfully. So when you walk, answer the phone, eat, answer an email – be fully aware of what you are doing.
More BEING PRESENT = Less STRESS, ANXIETY, EXHAUSTION, BURNOUT
Mindfulness – a vital part of leading organisations’ future
It is not how long we sit at a desk but the attention we give to the task in hand that determines the value we bring. Mindfulness gives us the possibility of mental and emotional rest, despite whatever external stressors emerge in the workday. This inner resilience and ability to respond intelligently enables you to:
- listen attentively
- communicate clearly
- focus consistently
- empathise readily
All of which makes for greater all round effectiveness and self awareness which benefits you, the team, colleagues, clients, and your business /organisation.
For More information
Joanne O’Malley, B.Soc.Sc, H.Dip Psychotherapy Studies is a Mindfulness (MBSR / MBCT) facilitator trained by the Centre of Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University. Joanne has been a committed mindfulness meditation practitioner for many years and regularly attends retreats and ongoing training; she is also a Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) and Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) teacher. She receives regular supervision while teaching and adheres to the Good Practice Guidelines as established by the UK network of mindfulness teachers.
Joanne gives Mindfulness Training – 1 to 1, Customised programmes and courses to organisations and individuals. Read client feedback below:
“CLS asked Joanne to run a series of Mindfulness Workshops as part of our employee well-being program. Participants found the program really beneficial in helping to reduce stressful situations, maintain focus on important things, improve employee relationships as well as work / life balance issues. We found Joanne to be excellent in facilitating the workshop and the feedback afterwards was very positive”. Myles Molloy, Financial Controller