A mind-altering practice that’s good for business

Imagine a work environment where people don’t take delight in your missteps and your peers don’t pass on any judgment. It seems somewhat impossible.

Instead, imagine an environment where people learn to work cooperatively and constructively. Decisions are made with purpose and clarity. Team efforts are valued above personal triumphs and employees don’t feel the constant pressure of the ticking clock.

As employees we have to learn to navigate through the murky and arduous cooperate world, learning to balance work expectations with one’s own life. Seemingly a rigorous task but we still manage to come out ‘okay’ in the end. But what if we can do better than just ‘okay’? Perhaps ancient practices provide a solution for a modern day issue.

Mindfulness – a mind-altering, positive practice that isn’t anything new.

With its roots dating back to ancient Buddhism, monks have been using these techniques for centuries. The mind enters a catatonic state of calmness, enabling them to achieve insight, tranquillity and focus.

Meditation is a key form of mindfulness; despite there being numerous forms of meditation it can be difficult to practice in a work setting. Therefore ‘mindfulness meditation,’ a popular type of meditation whereby you practice being aware in the present moment, may be a better way to increase motivation at work.

The practice of mindfulness is fast becoming a growing trend in the business environment. A wide scope of accounting firms from the likes of the ‘big four’ as well as large cooperates such as Nike, Google and Apple, are encouraging mindfulness in the workplace.

The benefits have been widely studied and encouraged as it promotes an attitude of calmness, openness and enhances attention to detail – all of which lead to better decision making. Organisations are realising the overwhelming benefits of mindfulness in combatting stress and anxiety.

Some benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Less stress and conflict in the work environment
  • Improved focus
  • Communication is more effective when you’re not stressed
  • Improved productivity and morale
  • Better relationships with colleagues
  • Ability stay on task and be present
  • Makes failure a positive feeling

There are some tried and tested techniques to practice mindfulness in the office setting, including;

Breathing: Take a few minutes to focus on breathing. Focus on how each body part feels with each inhale and exhale of breath.

Seeing: Take a minute to observe our environment as a way to recharge and centre your wandering thoughts. You can take a moment to look out the window – pay attention to what you see – notice architecture, colours and shapes of the setting without any prejudice.

Listening: This requires you to pay attention to someone else and restrain yourself from reacting impulsively. You can use breathing to calm your thoughts and centre your mind.

Self-Compassion: The means to show compassion to others can be easier then showing it to ourselves. However, it is vital to practice self-love as it allows us to maintain happiness, mental endurance and enables us to endure through difficult situations. Positive self-talk can radically help with eliminating negative thoughts and allowing us to get re-centred.

The techniques above can be practiced in any setting and have had positive results. Despite these techniques sounding simple they are often difficult to implement. Our busy lives often make it difficult to simply ‘switch-off’ and we can feel constantly ‘plugged in’. Combine this with the constant need to multi-task we often end up mentally drained.

Multi- tasking or constantly thinking of the ‘next thing’ whilst attending to something else, has been proven to lead to employee burn out. Take a minute to pause, re-centre and focus on being constructive and positive – it will result in maximising productivity.

Simply practicing mindfulness is of great benefit to the individual, but more often there needs to be a ‘buy-in’ from senior management. Having senior management or leaders within the business encouraging the practice, is often more important than just merely practicing mindfulness individually. Employees should be encouraged to go for walks and take breaks and even have spaces provided for them where they can recharge. Using these techniques to better handle distractions should optimise performance and have an impact on the bottom line.

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