When we talk about “mindfulness” most people have an immediate visual of someone sitting in a traditional meditation pose, usually in a tranquil location, with eyes closed and legs crossed. It’s about as removed from a business setting as you can get but, in fact, Mindfulness is a hugely beneficial business tool that can have positive impacts on both staff and customers.
First, let’s look at how we define Mindfulness.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you, used as a technique to help you relax. Mindfulness is a way for body and mind to reconnect.”
Let’s take a deeper look at how Mindfulness is relevant within a business setting. Mindfulness means being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment. So, being mindful means we take a non-judgmental approach to what is happening in our inner world. In other words, we simply view “thoughts as thoughts” instead of evaluating whether certain thoughts are positive or negative, good or bad.
Acceptance is an important aspect of mindfulness – having the ability to be aware of our experience without either holding on to it or pushing it away – we accept our experience as “what is”. Mindfulness is the ability to acknowledge what we are feeling, to allow the emotion and be able to step back from it so that it does not define us.
Our mind is always “on”, we are scanning our inner and outer world for any threats to our well-being – either real or imagined – and looking for possible solutions and explanations. An untrained mind will wander through all kinds of thoughts, scenarios and emotions – whether supportive or unsupportive – and this can trigger our fight/flight response.
Mindfulness involves becoming purposefully aware of ourselves and acknowledging whatever we are experiencing, whether it’s an emotion, a breath or being focused on an activity such as eating (i.e. enjoying every morsel of food). Being purposefully aware helps train our mind and is a particularly effective calming mechanism in managing workplace stress.
Mindfulness is a learned response which is strengthened with repetition and consistent use. Most people don’t find Mindfulness is something that comes naturally or easily but, once they are given some direction in how to start utilising the practice, they are able to master it and begin to apply it in both work and home environments.
Here are our top tips for mastering Mindfulness:
- Purposefully direct your awareness away from any wandering thoughts and redirect towards an “anchor”. This decreases the effect of anything unsupportive on our responses and reactions.
- One of the easiest and most successful “anchors” is breathing. If you find your mind wandering, focus back on your breathing. Notice how you are breathing. If you are taking shallow breaths, try to relax and make them longer and deeper.
- Focus on one breath at a time. This will calm the nervous system, defuse any flight/fight response and allow you to come back to the present moment and really assess what is occurring or simply enable you to enjoy the experience and the moment.
- Using your five senses to create Present Moment Awareness. Go through each sense in turn and identify one thing you can see, one thing you can feel, one thing you can hear, one thing you can smell and one thing you can taste. This identification process brings the mind’s focus back to “right here right now”. When you are in the Present Moment, you are in a state of Mindfulness.
Achieving a state of Mindfulness places all your systems – mental, physical and emotional – in alignment and will defuse any fight/flight response. As a consequence, you can then make more rational and logical decisions concerning responses, reactions and actions both personally and in business.
From a business perspective, any time your staff are able to use Mindfulness to better manage their own responses, they will be in a better position to manage customers, and be more productive within their own roles, and you will have created a more positive workplace environment.
If you would like to know more about how to achieve Mindfulness to live a calmer, less stressful life, contact us to book a coaching session or request an online workshop.
We invite you to make March a “Mindful” month.