Mindfulness at Work

A good definition comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, credited as the founder of modern mindfulness. He describes it as: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” When mindfulness is talked about, the word is sometimes used to refer to a practice like mindful movement or mindful meditation, and sometimes to describe a type of behaviour or disposition.

Research suggests that mindfulness can be developed and can lead to enhanced well-being and personal effectiveness. Here’s what the CIPD say: mindfulness training helps to improve attention and awareness, enabling people to become skilful at:

  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Increasing self-transcendence (that is, recognising that our thoughts are just thoughts and don’t necessarily reflect reality)
  • Increasing self-regulation

With these skills, mindfulness can change the way in which people process and respond to information, emotional states and thought patterns. Practising mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. The origins of mindfulness are rooted firmly in Buddhism but it's increasingly taught in a secular form.

Reaping benefits

The benefits of mindfulness are linked to an increase in emotional intelligence - empathy and self-regulation. Working on these areas enhances our ability to manage conflict and communicate more effectively. Being mindful enables one to take a step back and consider alternative perspectives as opposed to just reacting to; it helps put us in control of our emotions, and to choose the most appropriate response in a given situation.

In recent years, many companies have started teaching mindfulness in the office. Here are our recommendations to get you started.

At particularly stressful times, a popular mindfulness exercise known as S.T.O.P. can be helpful:

Stop - take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing.

Take a breath - feel the sensation of your own breathing, which brings you back to the present moment.

Observe - acknowledge what is happening, for good or bad, inside you or out. Just note it.

Proceed – after your brief check in with the present moment, continue with whatever it was you were doing.

Another simple exercise, known as R.A.I.N., can help one stay in the present moment and not get caught up with the experiences of others, or our own emotions.

Recognize - acknowledge what is happening, just noting it in a calm and accepting manner.

Accept - allow life to be just as it is, without trying to change it right away, and without wishing it were different somehow.

Investigate - how it feels, whether it is making you upset or happy, giving you pleasure or pain, just note it.

Non-Identification - realise that the sensations you feel make for a fleeting experience, one that will soon pass. They are not who you are.

Posted: Thursday 7 February 2019

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