The art of mindfulness

Mindfulness in the Workplace

One of the biggest hindrances to a consistent mindfulness practice is work. It’s an easy scapegoat to excuse not making adequate time for ourselves to rest and reset. More than that, it can actually seem impossible to juggle both work and a dedicated mindfulness practice and may even overwhelm you. This is, of course, the opposite of what the practice is trying to achieve! Many of us are consumed by our careers and often feel that we have very little space in our lives for anything but the daily grind. This feeling causes us to neglect our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing and in turn perpetuates a seemingly constant cycle of stress. Keep on this path and burnout is inevitable.

If you feel overwhelmed by the notion that you have to dedicate time to something like meditation or a 20 minute daily walk, a great place to start is by practicing mindfulness while at work. This is helpful in and of itself but can also be a gateway into a more committed practice for which you carve out space in your day.

For starters, you need to slow down to speed up. Sounds entirely paradoxical, but it has been proven time and time again that rest increases efficiency, productivity, happiness, resilience and overall health. Panic and stress are a misuse of energy – you can’t help that and it is not a conscious decision that you should blame yourself for, but mindfulness is the antidote.

The most basic way to practice mindfulness absolutely anywhere is conscious presence. Our culture has encouraged us to operate on autopilot, teaching us that constant focus on work and work only is what makes us productive and valuable members of society. This could not be further from the truth. Focus on your moment to moment experience throughout your workday and take a step back to breathe. Notice what’s going on around or within you, taking in the entirety of what makes up your experience. This will aid you in managing your mental and emotional state by breaking up your time into units and helping you to acknowledge each one as it comes and goes.

Notice when your mind wanders and make an effort to bring it back into the moment. At work especially we tend to be very much focused on the future, which breeds a lot of fear. To be liberated from this fear we must recognise that we are doing what we can in this very moment, and that is all that we can ask of ourselves. Take everything one task at a time, breaking your work up into manageable chunks to focus on one by one. Put reminders up around your workspace if you need a little encouragement.

We do not have to compromise on efficiency in order to care for ourselves, despite what we may have been made to think. Whenever you feel overwhelmed at work, remind yourself to come back into the moment – the now is free from fear of the future.

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