It’s a common misconception that mindfulness requires you to sit with your eyes closed for hours, preferably surrounded by crystals and incense. But that’s luckily not the case, practising mindfulness does not require a lot of time, and you can even practice it at the workplace. Some companies: like Apple, Google, and Salesforce have dedicated meditation rooms. Although you can practice mindfulness easily at your own desk without the need for a formal meditation posture or a dedicated room.
Mindfulness is giving full attention to what is present right now, with full acceptance and without judgment. This can be practised many times a day, and the workplace is a perfect environment to do so. Making the practice a continued habit improves attention and productivity while reducing stress and reactivity.
Practising mindfulness several times a day at the workplace is a really powerful way to reduce your overall level of stress, which builds up from when we wake up. You can practice mindfulness even when your time is limited! You might find yourself waiting for a meeting, a task on the computer or in the bathroom. Here, you will find 5 easy exercises you can implement throughout your work day. They will train your attention by bringing it to various objects, even while at work!
Awareness of the breath
Bringing your attention to the breath is the easiest and most accessible attention exercise. The breathing is both a conscious and subconscious action, it’s a movement in the body that’s always there. You can practice this several times a day
Take a deep breath into your belly while giving full attention to the sensation in the body. Notice how your belly and chest expands, then slowly exhale. You can repeat this a couple of times if desired.
Mindful walking is an exercise which can be done at several locations, this of course includes the workplace. When you need to walk to a meeting room, the lunch room, a colleague in another office, or even when you walk to the bathroom, you can practice mindful walking.
The practice is that you bring your attention fully to the walking itself. Try to notice how your body feels as you walk, notice the movement of the muscles, take in the sights around you and be fully aware of your surroundings.
The 3-step arrival is a short, more formal, exercise which you can use throughout the day. You can use it whenever you feel you have been triggered and need to relax. It only requires a few minutes of time to complete the 3 steps, 1 minute per step is already a good start.
The three steps of the practice:
- Bring your attention to whatever is happening on the inside at this moment. You might notice some persistent thoughts, strong sensations in the body or a strong emotion. Try to look at it from a distance and accept whatever you notice, without judgment and the need to change it.
- Narrow your focus to observe only the breath now. Observe how the breath moves in and out of the body, and when you notice you start thinking about your breath you redirect your awareness again to the breath.
- Expand your attention to include the whole body. Notice sensations that are present without the need to think about them.
You can find an audio version of the meditation here: XXX
Check-in to a meeting
Most meetings require you to prepare by using your mind and logical thinking in order to be up-to-date with the content of the meeting. But you can also prepare yourself for a meeting by checking-in to yourself, in order to get more out of your time together.
- Bring your attention to how you feel in the present moment. Not trying to change anything, while you observe briefly your body, thoughts and emotions.
- Reflecting on what the goal of the meeting is and how you want to be perceived by others.
- Set an intention to stay present during the meeting.
- Bring your attention to the full body and the surrounding room.
You can practice this by yourself, or in group, which helps to get everybody on the same page. Deloitte Assurance and Advisory Australia has a recorded pre-meeting meditation which you can use as an example.
How often are we really listening to someone when we have a conversation? A lot of times we’re more busy in our heads with how we will respond or with something unrelated, instead of fully listening to what a person has to say verbally, but also bodily.
With mindful listening we give our attention fully to the other person and what he says, while staying connected to what the impact is for ourselves. So you’re not thinking about what happened before or the email you need to send later. But you are fully focussed on the words someone is saying and what his body is telling you. This will result in a more productive meeting while building a stronger connection between you and your conversational partner.
Practising Mindfulness does not require a lot of time, nor does it require you to sit still in a difficult posture with your eyes closed. You can easily tap into the benefits of Mindfulness several times a day at the workplace. I hope you enjoy these easy exercises, and look forward to hearing your feedback in the comments!