Working and being mindful, how does that work you ask? I'm always stressed at work, no time for relaxation or pausing the brain, you might say.Well, the aim of mindfulness isn’t to stop thinking, or to empty the mind, it is to pay close attention to your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions in order to see them more clearly.This way we don't make so many assumptions or create worst case scenarios in our head.
Although buddhist practices initially inspired mindfulness meditation, now it has become it's own separate method that emphasises stress reduction, cultivating focus and finding calm amongst stressful times. So let's break it down, becoming more mindful at work can simply be walking during your lunch break or slowing down while eating your lunch and even having a non work related chat with a co-worker. It is about being fully in the present moment, instead of multi-tasking, which by the way has been debunked and we now know it never truly allows us to do any one task to full potential. So, instead let's attention train our brain to stop and focus on the task at hand, staying in the moment.Something that can help this process is meditation. I don't expect you to sit cross legged on the boardroom floor in a meeting (although how funny and stress relieving would that be?), I simply mean, when you are feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes at your desk and breath in for four breathes and out for six breathes. Pay attention to your breath and zone out all other sounds and thoughts. Repeat this until you are feeling more calm, even a few minutes will work. Keep doing this during the day. You, see the brain is excellent at task or goal based problems, working to create answers to achieve specific outcomes. When it's in this 'doing' mode, it continuously searches your memories for previous experiences and knowledge, which may help in your current situation. However, sometimes the 'doing' mode can be unhelpful, for example in times of high stress at work, it may only recall the few times you think you didn't do so well or something wasn't resolved perfectly. It reminds you, in order to protect you, it's connected to the fight or flight mechanism, however, we all know that just causes more stress.
So, we must bring ourselves back to the present moment and focus on the one task at hand. Research has shown that bringing yourself back to the now is also a method of reducing stress, in any occasion. Another element you might try and it works for me,is to have a clean and orderly desk. I know that Albert Einstein famously said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”. Well, I'm not Einstein and I need a clean uncluttered desk. Try it, clean up old cups, pot plants that have passed to the potpourri department and papers that no longer serve you. That's the crux of it, why keep or do things that don't serve you on your desk, at home or in your mind. Be more scrupulous about what thoughts you let into your mind.
So being mindful at work can take a few simple steps;
1.Stay present in the moment. One task at a time.
2.Get focused on what you actually are doing or have to do.
3.Take a walk
4. Eat your lunch slowly
5. Breath - Meditate anytime, anywhere even just for the time it takes you to breath in and out deeply.And finally, declutter your desk, put a picture or quote at your desk which will calm or inspire you. This is doable and more importantly, it's essential, because we spend sometimes half our day at work, so let's be mindful it works for you too.
* Please note, all themes in this blog are just my beliefs from my personal experience and research.