To many people when they hear the word “Mindfulness” an image of Buddha sitting under a tree may pop up or someone sitting on the floor meditating. Mindfulness may be the buzz of modern life, especially when the whole world is under such intense pressure fighting for life and survival but it goes back thousands of years. Bringing mindfulness to work doesn’t need you to pack a yoga mat and find a silent corner at your workplace. With simple practices embedded in our daily lives, even 10 mindful minutes, can be a big rest for the mind. Let’s learn how:
Practice Mindful Moments
Our mind mostly lives either in the past or the future either fetching something from yesterday’s meeting or the stress of planning for tomorrow’s presentation. Think of a moment and your energy as a pebble hanging on a string. We constantly try to hang the pebbles of moments filled with stress from the past and the future anxiety to that one string i.e your energy. No wonder we break down. That’s what happens to most people at work when they live either in the past worries or borrow stress from the future.
Try to slice your life, years, days, hours, minutes to moment size. Living one moment at a time and using the energy that moment brings with it without being judgemental about it. That’s the most simple and true definition of mindfulness. There is no space for enough stress in one moment that can break you down. It’s not possible.
Taking Mindful Breaks
Breaks are essential to disconnect from the constant flow of attention and relax your mind and body. It’s kind of restarting our minds. But the truth is almost no one takes the word “break” in its authentic form. They just break from the present task and divert the mind to another one e.g. talking to someone, going out to smoke, planning the rest of your day, or talking about stress. The mind is still working, it’s still thinking and processing emotions like stress or planning. That’s even more stressful work. No wonder why people come back almost the same if not better.
Try taking mindful breaks not only on a specific hour but even in the middle of a task when you feel overloaded. Break from it and let your mind rest, not taking it to produce thoughts. It’s easier said than done because thoughts never cease to occur. Take deep breaths and divert your attention from thoughts to your breaths. That’s a splash of oxygen to the brain and you instantly feel relaxed.
Taming your wandering mind is one of the most difficult tasks. It’s like weighing frogs on a scale. You can’t keep them still, one always leaps out. Those frogs are our thoughts. We constantly judge our ability to control the attention and when we fail at it, we beat ourselves up for the failure. The parameter is all wrong. The most effective way to focus at work is to use your breath as an anchor. When you find yourself losing focus, start taking deep breaths, it works as a natural reminder to bring your focus to the present task.
In the advanced stages of practising to control your awareness, we enter into the state of “Flow” where a person becomes oblivious to the outer world and loses himself to the task. Researchers call it the “Best moments of your life.” A surgeon shared his experience of flow while he was performing the surgery and the ceiling behind him collapsed, but he didn’t realise until the surgery was done and his awareness started to flow to the outer world. This advanced hyper state is very important for Air Traffic Controllers, Surgeons, Scientists working in Labs, etc.
1. Learn to practice mindful breathing and accept that the only thing you can control is this present moment, once you accept it and enacts its rewards, you will have no negative stress or anxiety.
2. Take mindful breaks, practice silence even for a few minutes. It’s those silent mindful moments when the mind finds rest. It makes a great deal of difference to your well-being.
3. Our awareness is like a bright flashlight, wherever we point it, things become brighter. Controlling our awareness to the present moment will only keep “Now” in focus.