Mindfulness goes Mainstream

What is mindfulness?

“Mindful Work, How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out”

This is an enlightening read written by David Gelles. I had no idea that the practice of Mindfulness was quietly becoming mainstream and that many corporations had developed mindfulness programs for their employees. Many are leadership programs or programs that began after someone in upper management experienced first hand the power of the practice. Gelles describes many company’s programs and how they got started. He also discusses the growing body of research proving why it is so beneficial.

Just a few of the examples noted in the book:

Green Mountain Coffee has over five thousand employees participating in their program and mandates that all front-line workers do a series of mindful yoga stretches prior to beginning their shift. Among the benefits they noticed was a decrease in the amount of workplace injuries.

Other well-known corporations offering mindfulness programs include General Mills, Intel, Google, Adobe, Apple, Cisco and Facebook. No doubt corporations believe these programs may have the ability to positively impact the bottom line, but the benefits to the employees stretch far beyond their time at the office.

Mindfulness is making an impact in the sports world too. Phil Jackson introduced meditation to the Lakers locker room. The Lakers subsequently won five championships. Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, hired Mike Gervais (a sports psychologist) to teach mindfulness techniques to players prior to practice. The focus on quieting the mind and eliminating distractions is one aspect of the program designed to help these top athletes realize their full potential. The Seahawks won the 2014 Superbowl.

So just what is mindfulness?

Gelles describes mindfulness as being fully present, feeling sensations in the body without clinging to them or wishing them away, observing your thoughts without letting them become the only version of the truth and embracing whatever you are feeling in the moment. It is a practice of paying attention in the present moment, on purpose, without judgment.

Why is it worth carving time for mindfulness out of my already busy schedule?

A growing body of research shows that practicing mindfulness results in:

  • Reduced stress

  • Greater focus & concentration

  • A Stronger immune system

  • And perhaps greater happiness

Meditation and yoga, with their focus on the breath are two of the most popular and effective methods of developing a practice of mindfulness. To begin to meditate, all you need is the decision to spend a small portion of your day in silent observation. You can start with as little as 3 – 5 minutes a day and still notice a difference (see my former post “FINDING IDEAS through MEDITATION”).

Just a few other ideas for cultivating a practice of mindfulness:

  • Choose a transition task that you do multiple times daily, such as riding the elevator or walking to get a drink of water. Make an intention to use this time to scan your body. Notice any areas of tightness or tension. Pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling. Do this without judgment; simply be curious.

  • Decide to spend the first few minutes (or more) of each meal fully engaged in the process of eating. Take notice of the taste, texture, smell and appearance of your food. Monitor your thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes.

  • Make an intention to focus on one task at a time. If you find your mind wandering, gently guide it back to the task at hand.

  • Resist the constant pull of the internet; whether it be frequently checking email, looking at Facebook or surfing the web. Deliberately choose when and how often you want to engage in these activities.

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