Keith Fowler

How mindfulness helps at work – take your first pause

We’re all guilty of it – rushing around like headless chickens, trying to accomplish all our goals but failing to succeed in all. Delivering the most value at work, maintaining a happy family life, having a fulfilling romantic relationship and working on our physical fitness – it can all be a bit much. That is why increasingly experts are recommending the use of mindfulness to give our cerebral cortex a change of pace.

One of the most respected voices in the mindfulness field is Jon Kabat Zinn. Through a meditation and mindfulness practice that spans more than 5 decades, he has been able to influence an entire generation and turn them on to the benefits of pausing, slowing down and watching the breath. 

Kabat Zinn (along with others) pioneered the teaching of mindfulness back in the 1970s. He spearheaded the UMass Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979, teaching people to overcome and manage their chronic pain, the aftermath of industrial accidents and even cancer.

Though he himself takes his inspiration and teachings directly from Buddhism, he is not afraid to downplay this aspect in order to reach a wider audience and help more people. He has defined his brand of meditation as

“the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

So, what does Kabat Zinn and mindfulness have to do with success in business? 

Simply put, if you are stressed beyond belief and acting like that proverbial chicken, can you really be on top of your goals and targets? Can you really assess your SWOT with a clear head, or are you always reacting to new problems and trying to race around putting out fires?

Just a few minutes of mindfulness each day can truly help you to regain your composure, find calm and maintain a clear head. Sitting in a comfortable upright position, close your eyes lightly and focus on your breath. You might even find it helpful to think, “In, Out. In, Out.” as you breathe. When you notice that your mind is wandering (and it is always ‘when’ and not ‘if’) just gently bring your mind back to your breath. 

Remember – there is no “good at meditation” or “bad at meditation”. Some days it will feel easier than others but remember that the same is true for even the most seasoned yogis. By simply making the time to pause and slow down, you are rewiring your brain and doing your business a world of good. Go on – give it a try! What do you have to lose?

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