IF YOU’VE ever wondered what Google, Target, Goldman Sachs, and Oprah Winfrey have in common, it is a commitment to mindfulness in their workplaces.
Once associated with a highly spiritual lifestyle set apart from the mainstream, mindfulness training courses are becoming the norm in huge corporations in big cities around the world.Companies are finding it reduces stress and absenteeism, increases productivity, develops better leaders, and generates more creative workplaces. It also enhances cognitive thinking skills and triggers more imaginative solutions.
In Australia, dealing with growing issues of stress in the workplace is of huge importance.
A new report from the Australian Psychological Society indicates that one in four workers felt moderately to severely distressed in the past year alone.
Participants in the survey, titled Stress and Wellbeing in Australia,showed the demographic facing the highest stress load were those aged between 18 and 35.
The things workers stress over include the burden of a heavy workload, a difficult boss, the concept of change that eats up even more of their day, and worries about losing their jobs.Buddhist monk and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh describes mindfulness as “the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment.”
For an employee, it means being fully present in a moment, thinking only of the task at hand, not what is piled up in the inbox or what might appear there in the future. It is the energy of being aware of what is really happening and of refocusing on your work and its purpose.
Mindfulness involves the intentional and non-judgmental focus of our attention on our emotions, sensations and thoughts in the here and now. According to a Pennsylvania State University Study, it provides emotional regulation, decreased reactivity, increased response flexibility, interpersonal benefits and intra personal benefits.
Here are some ways to practise mindfulness in your workplace:
1. Make time for mindfulness
In times of greatest stress remember the Zen proverb that suggests you should meditate quietly for 20 minutes a day. If you are too busy to do that, you should meditate for an hour.
2. Accept your co-workers regardless of their strengths and weaknesses
The people who work with you have their own strengths and weaknesses. No matter where you go, there will be people you naturally warm to and those who upset you. Do not judge the latter. Just like you they have had to undergo an upbringing and you have no idea how it moulded their character. Do your best to recognise people for where they are now in the present, not for who they were yesterday or who they might become in the future.
3. Practice mindful breathing to restore your centre of calm
When you feel stressed, it can be extremely helpful to experience mindful breathing. Simply breath in and out three times, focused on nothing but your breath. Eliminate all other thoughts and just let calm return to the present.
4. Cultivate a habit of abundance
Express gratitude for the good things people around you are doing.
5. Do one routine task mindfully
Return your attention to the current moment. Abandon your concerns about the future or the past. Choose a task you have to do and do it focusing completing on the task. See it in a new way.
6. Email mindfully
Type out your email and then step away from your keyboard. Take three deep breaths and focus only on your breath. Return to the email and re-read it. Do you still feel that way? Imagine how the person reading it will feel. Is that the reaction you want to achieve?
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