Workplace Mindfulness

What are some simple methods to start to inspire mindfulness in the workplace
Women sitting lotus pose on conference table

Workplace Mindfulness

The topic of mindfulness is such an enormous talking point within both HR but also sales and marketing machines within corporates right now. What many are now discovering is that the topic of personal time is dwindling all too fast and efficiency in the work place is dropping as a result. There is a direct correlation between time taken for ‘still self’ and productivity.

The following article has been reprinted with the permission of Joel Henehan of Finite Australia.

The topic of mindfulness has been approached from many different directions by a wide range of individuals and with varying degrees of authority.

There is however a consistent level of agreement when it comes to the practice of mindfulness, that it is an important part in daily life and its importance in the achievement of a personal level of happiness, balance and awareness.

The effects of being present and in the moment for any length of time can be considered very powerful when it comes to increasing our daily productivity levels and our overall sense of wellbeing.

Those companies who have adopted a practice of mindfulness in the work place as a core part of their human resource policies are still few and far between. However some organisations are leading the way, Google who have developed the very successful SIY program, Apple, Sony, Target, Nike, Goldman Sachs and even sport franchises such as the Seattle Seahawks. Mindfulness has shown to significantly benefit those in high pressured situations, Phil Jackson an NBA coaching legend who won numerous championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls implemented Mindfulness training as a way of calming players before their big games.

However the level of current research showing that the practice of meditation and mindfulness in the workplace is not only positive but also improving the business bottom line is continuing to grow.

The practice of mindfulness appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits as well as practical real world benefits – from producing changes in the old grey matter by increasing its volume to a reduction in over activity in the “me” centres of the brain.

Other benefits also include an enhanced connectivity between different brain regions, and the ability to react to and engage with a situation in a much faster and more controlled manner.

So to address some of the sceptics out there on the topic of mindfulness training in the workplace, here are some of the ways that scientists now believe that mindfulness not only helps the individual but also increases the business bottom line by reducing down time and making employees more compassionate, co-operative and creative.

Protecting the ageing brain:

The daily practice of mindfulness can take the pressure off key areas of the brain and, much like partaking in regular exercise, this can over time protect the brain from later issues concerning mental illnesses or mental disorders. A UCLA study found that long-term practitioners of mindfulness and meditation had better-preserved brains as they aged.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01551/full

Sharpening the sword of focus and attention:

Training the brain to remain focused throughout the day is at the heart of an effective mindfulness practice, and the idea of staying in the present moment regardless of both external and internal distractions, including thoughts that seem to come out of the blue, requires a great deal of concentration. For this reason those who practice mindfulness have a greater ability to remain clear and focused throughout the day concentrating on tasks that need to be completed without distraction, remaining more productive and feeling happy about the work they are doing.

Avoiding the stress monster:

The level of time off an individual takes during any one year can be put down to many different things including lifestyle and their ability to handle stress. It has been found that those who practice meditation and mindfulness are less likely to suffer from the effects of extreme stress, work burnout and generally stay much healthy as a result, decreasing the levels of absenteeism which for any business definitely helps improve the bottom line.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/14/meditation-help-stressed-public-servants-mps-inquiry

Increased creativity and decision making skills:

When we make decisions ours brains will often take us on a journey through the many different options available, continually weighing up each option and adding things like our gut feeling or previous experience to the mix to ensure we make the right call. Those who practice mindfulness are often more able to make clearer and more concise decisions as they move quickly in the present moment to understand the situation directly rather than getting too caught up in the maybes. If you are doing your best to live in the present moment your focus will also be more on the situation at hand and less on the mirage of future what ifs and maybes.

Mindfulness just makes us all a little happier:

The case for including mindfulness as part of your company’s internal culture could for no other reason be that it just makes us a little happier. People undertaking mindfulness training in groups have shown to have an increased level of activity in the area of the brain that is associated with positive emotions. More than 100 studies have shown changes in brain wave activity of people who practice mindfulness and meditation daily and many researchers have found that the areas of the brain that are most linked to emotional regulation become larger in those people who have continued these practices for over five years.

The evidence for different types of mindfulness practice is very promising and research has increased over the past few years to potentially take mindfulness practice out of the strange hippy thing people do in quiet rooms to a mainstream work practice that increases happiness and the bottom line.

This article has been granted permission to be republished by Joel Henehan of Finite Australia.

Joel can be contacted here:  joelh@finite.com.au  Joel is a specialist in sourcing software development and digital talent in Brisbane.

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