A beginner's guide to mindfulness
Posted on 22 January 2018
Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word lately. It’s a relatively new concept for most of us, and one we tend to think of in terms of getting our personal lives in order. However, practicing mindfulness in all facets of our lives can lead to greater success.
During my time working as a psychotherapist in Argentina I worked with many clients to help them maximise their potential for living a meaningful life, and one of the tools I used to help them was mindfulness. While recruitment is a very different world I have been able to draw on this experience to help my colleagues embark on their own mindfulness journey.
Hopefully, you too can gain a better understanding of what mindfulness is and how you can benefit from it - and potentially share some of your learnings with your own colleagues.
Let’s start at the beginning - what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is best described, according to its precursor Jon Kabat Zin, as the “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”. Essentially it’s about tuning into own our mind to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
How can it help?
Incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives can reduce stress, enhance performance (especially at work), enable greater insight and awareness, and improve our understanding of others’ behaviours. If you’re easily distracted and forget what you are working on, find it difficult to focus and often find your mind wandering, or experience anxiety on a regular basis, mindfulness is a great tool that can really help!
Mindfulness training programmes positively impact individual employee performance and team culture, so it’s no surprise that a growing number of companies - including us here at Potentia - have started implementing them.
Incorporating mindfulness into the workplace can help us to:
Improve our attention on both visual and listening tasks
Reduce distracting or intrusive thoughts, increasing our working memory
Enhance professional relationships by cultivating empathy and compassion
Create more space between thought and action, enabling us to be less reactive and make smarter decisions
Open our minds and be more aware of the culture around us, enabling calm and centered leadership - especially for those in a position of authority
Mindfulness may seem like a great idea but you’re probably asking yourself how you’re going to successfully become more mindful in the context of a busy work day? You no doubt have emails, phone calls, meetings, and presentations etc to deal with - all on top of your actual work! Don’t panic - there are many ways to practice mindfulness and it doesn’t necessarily have to involve you being monk-like, sitting in an uncomfortable position in silence.
Here at Potentia we have a group mindfulness meditation each Monday before the start of our team meeting. To enhance our attention and help us absorb and synthesise a growing flood of information we practice a range of techniques including including guided meditations, body-scan meditation, and mindful walks, among others.
You too can easily incorporate mindfulness into your live with a few basic exercises, like these:
When you wake up each morning spend at least two minutes in bed paying attention to your breathing. When thoughts pop up into your mind, just let them go and focus on your breathing.
If you bus or walk to work, use this time to boost your brain with a short mindfulness practice - try a short guided meditation like the one you’ll find here (link to http://www.freemindfulness.org/download)
Be a single-tasker and group tasks in categories. For example, address emails, phone calls, errands, and meetings in one block rather than switching back and forth throughout the day.
Practice mindfulness in your breaks between tasks. Stretch, take deep breaths, or go for a mindful walk while listening to a guided meditation (link to https://www.mindful.org/daily-mindful-walking-practice/)
Use mindful reminders. According to Harvard University, up to 47% of a person’s day can be spent lost in thought (wow!) so it’s important to remind ourselves to be mindful. Set an alarm on your phone, put it in your calendar, write a note on your desk - it can be anything as long as it works for you.
I wish you all the best on your personal mindfulness journey and would like to leave with you these wise words: If you want to impact people’s life, start with yourself.