Not everyone puts much stock in mindfulness. It’s certainly not the key to solving all your workplace stresses but it can bring value if you make the effort. There’s an embarrassment of health benefits associated with practising mindfulness, and you really could reach enlightenment on your coffee break.
So where do you begin? How do you get into a mindful state during the constant to-ing and froing of the work day?
Most of us don’t have time to sit in quiet contemplation during work hours. More formal meditation might be something to do when you wake up or at the end of the day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be mindful at work – after all, it’s just about being aware of the details of the present moment. So you can sneak in some mindfulness on your commute, walking to meet a client, eating your lunch or taking a tea break, and here’s how:
Six tips for practising mindfulness at work
- Find a comfortable place to sit, and relax your body. The lotus position is entirely optional. Pay particular attention to dropping your shoulders. You’d be surprised how much you hunch and tense them during the day, particularly if you work at a computer.
- Focus on your breathing. When we’re stressed, our breathing can become too rapid or shallow, without us realising it. Concentrate on taking a few deep, slow breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, feeling your belly expand as you breathe in, rather than your chest.
- Try to limit noise to minimise any distractions. It’s hard to be mindful when your phone’s buzzing and your email is pinging. Either turn of your notifications or get a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
- Listen to the ambient sounds. If you work in an open plan office you can’t lower the volume on your colleagues so try to practice mindfulness on the ambient sounds. Even if you usually find the sounds annoying – people typing, the whirr of your computer fan, the hum of office lights – try listening to the changing tone, pitch and volume of them without attaching any feelings.
- Accept interruptions. As you try to quiet your mind, your thoughts, body sensations and memories will naturally interrupt you. Accept that that’s what’s happening and let them go.
- Eliminate nagging thoughts. If you find that you can’t shake a particularly nagging thought, write it down so you can come back to it later and then return to your mindfulness.
Practice makes perfect
How long should you spend working on your mindfulness? Well, how much time do you have? A couple of minutes a day is better than nothing, but you should try to get into a daily routine. The more you practice mindfulness the easier it is to clear your thoughts and enter a calm state.
Now, mute your notifications, find a quiet corner and take a little time for yourself. You’ve earned it!
Hat tip to Moyan Brenn for the photo.