“Meditation is a way of being, not a technique. Meditation is not about trying to get anywhere else. It is about allowing yourself to be exactly where you are and as you are, and the world to be exactly as it is in this moment.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Last January, I had the pleasure of joining hosts Carolyn Owens and Mark Thorn on their Blog Talk Radio Show, Let’s Coach With Mark & Carolyn. Our topic was “Take Your Mindfulness Meditation To Work”. For this week’s Mindfulness Mondays post, I wanted to share some of what we discussed as well as a link to the show for you to explore. One of the benefits of mindfulness practice is being able to bring it out beyond the meditation cushion and into our daily lives and relationships including the world of work. Listen Here…
The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation. When we go to work, we put on our work persona. When we come home, we take it off. Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open, authentic and heart-centered, the transition is difficult.
It is such a fascinating time when we see science is getting on board with what spirituality has long know – meditation is a powerful tool for both consciousness and well-being. I am amazed to see each week new information being shared about a variety of practices and one that seems to be in the forefront is mindfulness meditation. Here is a brief summary of recent research from Dan Seigel, co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center:
• University of New Mexico researchers found that participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course decreased anxiety and binge eating.
• Office workers who practiced MBSR for twenty minutes a day reported an average 11% reduction in perceived stress.
• Eight weeks of MBSR resulted in an improvement in the immune profiles of people with breast or prostate cancer, which corresponded with decreased depressive symptoms.
• A prison offering Vipassana meditation training for inmates found that those who completed the course showed lower levels of drug use, greater optimism, and better self-control, which could reduce recidivism.
• Fifth-grade girls who did a ten-week program of yoga and other mindfulness practices were more satisfied with their bodies and less preoccupied with weight.
• A mix of cancer patients who tried MBSR showed significant improvement in mood and reduced stress. These results were maintained at a checkup six months later.
• The likelihood of recurrence for patients who had experienced three or more bouts of depression was reduced by half through Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, an offshoot of MBSR.
• After fifteen weeks of practicing MBSR, counseling students reported improved physical and emotional well-being, and a positive effect on their counseling skills and therapeutic relationships. (Source: The Science Of Mindfulness)
So, what is mindfulness?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”
Mindfulness is a not just a practice, but a state of being in attention to the present moment. When you’re practicing mindfulness, you are observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judgement, comparison or the need to understand. It is a way to be present to life as it unfolds. It’s simply practicing moment to moment awareness.
Here are some of the overall benefits of mindfulness practice:
- Reduced stress
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Improved self-awareness
- Boosts to working memory
- Clarity and Focus
- Less emotional reactivity
- Relationship satisfaction
- Improved immune functioning
- Sense of well-being
- Emotional Intelligence
- Increased empathy and compassion
How can this support our us in the world of work?
As Dan Seigel mentioned in his overview of scientific research, mindfulness meditation has been shown to benefit people at work as well as in their personal lives. Mindfulness supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity, stronger resiliency and even enhanced creativity – these are all things that can benefit us in the world of work, whether we work in a large corporation or are a self-employed entrepreneur.
For an individual, mindfulness meditation offers a way to stay present, focused and bring more of our authentic self to our work. For organizations, mindfulness meditation offers an opportunity to cultivate a culture of clarity, focus and employee engagement. For both, it also supports a new paradigm for leadership development that is based on authenticity, self-awareness and openness.
Basically, bringing mindfulness meditation practice to work is a win-win situation. So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or an organization wanting create change, bringing mindfulness practice to work offers a powerful tool for transformation. We can see this happening at companies like Google, Apple, Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Harpo Studios and The Huffington Post.
Some ways to incorporate mindfulness into your work:
Ways to incorporate mindfulness into your work:
- Practice the “just one breath meditation”. Simply take a mindful breath, noticing the sensations of the breath, where you feel it in your body, the rhythm of the breath and/or labeling it “breathing in and breathing out.
- Count your next five breaths.
- Give yourself a break – get up, stretch, step a way for just a moment.
- Go for a mindful walk around the office or go outside and get some fresh air.
- Feel your feet on the floor. Feel the support of the earth beneath you.
- Give some attention to you body. Notice where you feel might feel tension or discomfort. Bring the breath to that area for just a moment.
- Pause and notice all of the sounds around you, just listen and notice.
- Get a mindfulness app or set a timer to remind you to pause several times during the day.
Feel free to comment or share on how you bring mindfulness or other meditation practices to your world of work!
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