Over the centuries, mindfulness practice has spread from ancient Buddhist traditions, into today’s easy to access TED Talks, and flowing to corporate boardrooms from New York to Los Angeles. Although it has become increasingly popular in the corporate world, mindfulness isn’t just another fad or productivity hack – it prescribes a fresh way of looking at the world, noticing what is going on behind our assumptions and narratives, and feeling what it means to truly be in the moment.
Several cutting-edge companies have set aside meditation rooms, or provide midday breaks for quiet contemplation. Even if you don’t work at one of these companies, you can apply the principles of mindfulness to be more present with your work, your life, and people around you.
Here are a few steps for integrating mindfulness into your day.
1. Sit Quietly
It doesn’t matter if you do this for thirty minutes or three. If you don’t have a quiet space in your workplace, you can sit at your desk or take a quick walk around the block. Just claim a small slice of time, whatever you can manage, in which you can expect to be relatively undisturbed.
When you have found your spot, sit still, with your hands in your lap or at your sides, and close your eyes.
2. Focus on Your Breath
After you’ve taken a few moments to calm yourself, gradually bring attention to your breath. Ride each breath as it travels through your nose and fills your lungs. Rest your awareness on the pause between the in-breath and out-breath. Then slowly release. Give your full attention to the process of breathing.
As soon as you notice a thought, acknowledge it – say to yourself, “thinking” – and return your attention to the breath. Do this as many times as necessary until the session is over.
When you accept your thoughts and then let them go on their way, you reclaim some of the power and energy you might otherwise invest in worrying over them. Bring all that focus back to the present moment and the experience you are having, here and now.
3. Apply Mindfulness on the Go
There’s a reason that sitting is called “practice.” You’re practicing an approach to everything else in your life. When you practice in this way, you prepare yourself for the harder work of staying present, focusing your attention, and maintaining equanimity in even the most taxing professional situations.
When you are in a meeting, give your full attention to the presentation and presenter. When you are working on a project, just do that. When you notice sights or sounds in the room, or distractions competing for your attention, acknowledge them, accept them, and let them go, releasing any thoughts you may have about them. Return your attention to the task at hand.
4. Keep Learning and Practicing
Mindfulness is a journey, not a destination, and you may not see major results after one or two sessions. If you make mindfulness practice a part of your daily routine, it will gradually shift your attitude toward your work and yourself.
In the book Mindfulness on the Go, Jan Chozen Bays distills centuries of contemplative wisdom into simple exercises you can try anywhere. (A companion set of flashcards is available, too.) Meditate.io is an online community built around sharing meditation practice with professionals in creative and technical professions, with guided exercises for mindfully attending meetings, taking breaks, and checking email.
At Artisan Creative, we believe that when you find meaning in your work, you find meaning in your life, and vice versa. Contact us today to discover how we can help. We hope you enjoy the 444th issue of our weekly a.blog.