We are hard-pressed to find a leader, an entrepreneur, or an employee who doesn’t want to be more focused, more productive, and less stressed. We live in the most fast-paced, over-stimulated, multi-tasked time in history. And focus has never been so challenging!
In fact, during 47% of our waking hours we are thinking about something other than what we’re doing. Another way to look at this is that roughly half the time, we’re not actually focused on what we are doing. Half the time! We won’t bother speculating on why that is, however we might surmise that if we could change it, we would.
Mindfulness is the solution.
Mindfulness is the mental state achieved when focusing one’s attention on the present moment. That means we’re not focused on the past, reviewing events, analyzing what’s taken place, or feeling bad about what’s happened. And we’re also not focused on the future, planning our next steps, imagining what if, or feeling worry or anxiety about some future possibility. Mindfulness is having your full attention in the moment, on whatever you are doing, feeling, saying or hearing right now.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, one of the most common being meditation. And while thousands of corporations around the world are offering mindfulness training to their employees, there are so many different approaches, that there is still much confusion about what it is.
The benefits of mindfulness at work include
- Improved mood and morale (increases positive emotions and reduces negative emotions)
- Improved productivity (increases focus, changes brain regions linked to learning and memory)
- Better teamwork (fosters compassion toward others, enhances relationships)
- Reduced sick leave (boosts the immune system)
- Reduced stress
The simple approach to Mindfulness that I teach is mastering the combination of relaxation and awareness, so that the mind can remain focused, clear and present. This is a skill-building process. Learning the skill of deep relaxation and the skill of heightened awareness, while training the mind to enter these states at will, provides us with a powerful asset. Imagine what’s possible when your mind is able to remain calm and focused, regardless of what is going on around you and what you are experiencing. That’s the beauty of mindfulness.
Here is a simple exercise that can help you right now. It’s called Pausing to Breathe. It takes just 2-3 minutes, and even that will be challenging for many of you. Begin by putting your pen or your device down and turning away from any screens. In a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Proceed to take 5 deep breaths in and out, while you keep your focus on the breath. Notice how it feels as the air passes through your nose and mouth, how it fills up your lungs, then how it moves out as your lung push, and the feeling of the breath passing your lips or nose on the way out. Use curiosity about the breath to keep your attention on it. And ignore distractions for the full 2 minutes. If your mind wanders, as soon as you notice it wandering, then bring your attention back to the breath.
Do this Pausing to Breathe practice several times a day and you’ll feel refreshed, centered and more focused.
And if you would like to bring mindfulness training into your workplace or group, let me know. I’d be happy to discuss possibilities with you.
Until next time,