Mindful May – mindfulness in the workplace
Mindfulness in May
Mindfulness is a technique that bears roots in Eastern philosophy. It involves focusing on the present moment, allowing thoughts to pass through your mind, without judgement. It is common practice for individuals to bring their attention back to their breath; deep, nourishing inhalations and exhalations have the added benefit of promoting muscle relaxation and increasing oxygen circulation throughout the body.
How can I become more mindful?
Here is a list of activities which can help to cultivate mindfulness into daily life:
- Take 2 minutes to focus on your breathing; breath in and out, slowly, allowing your belly to rise and fall;
- practice gratitude by writing a list of 3 things you are grateful for each day;
- increase your awareness of touch, feel and smell by interacting with pets, nature and food experiences;
- practice the art of people watching;
- take control of your emotions by quieting your brain when worrying, persistent thoughts become bothersome;
- take 5-10 minutes per day to do nothing; and
- allow your mind to wander; there is nothing wrong with drifting off into a daydream and allowing your mind to shift focus for a minute or two.
The science behind mindfulness and meditation
A study by Malinowski et al. (2017) found that engaging in mindful meditation training improved visuospatial attention and may be a useful strategy for counteracting cognitive decline associated with the ageing process. A total of 55 participants were recruited, 75 years in age, were randomly allocated to an 8-week breath awareness training group or an active control group engaging in brain training exercises. The results revealed that engaging in just over 10 minutes of a mindfulness practice 5 times per week significantly improved behavioural responses and electrophysiological activity in the brain.
Ching et al. (2015) proved that mindfulness isn’t just for the ageing mind. One hundred and fifty two Taiwanese University students participated in a mindfulness meditation course for one semester. Results of this study showed that a one semester mindfulness meditation course was able to improve learning effectiveness and both attention and memory aspects of the students’ cognitive performance (results were statistically significant).
How can I become more mindful in the workplace?
You don’t need to sit on top of the Andes Mountains in the lotus pose to be able to practice mindfulness and meditation—you can even do it in your workplace! Some helpful tips include:
- Set the intention at the start of your work day to be as present as you can be; if worrying or stressful thoughts enter your mind, allow yourself to acknowledge them, and take two minutes to take a few deep breaths;
- make an effort to work more consciously; this may mean taking longer to complete tasks but slow and steady wins the race;
- avoid multi-tasking; this is a stress-trap, and allows your mind to wander, preventing you from truly engaging with clarity in the present moment; and
- keep a journal for yourself; block out specific ‘time-outs’ in your day, where you can sit, undisturbed in peace, even if it’s for 5-10 minutes at a time.
To learn more about mindfulness and meditation, join us at our one-day mindfulness workshop on May 6th. Call (02) 9252 2226 to book.
Ching M, Koo M, Tsai TH, & Chen CY. Effects of a mindfulness meditation course on learning and cognitive performance among university students in Taiwan. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:254358. Doi: 10.1155/2015/254358.
Malinowski P, Moore A, Mead B, Gruber T. Mindful aging: the effects of regular brief mindfulness practice on electrophysiological markers of cognitive and affective processing in older adults. Mindfulness NY. 2017;8(1):78-94. Doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0482-8.
Psych Central. 7 ways to be mindful every day. Retrieved from http://www.psychcentral.com on April 2017.
Mindful: taking time for what matters. 10 ways to be more mindful at work. [blog by Shamash Alidina]. June 8, 2016. Retrieved from http:// http://www.mindful.org/10-ways-mindful-work/.