“Might workplace mindfulness—in the cubicle or on the court—be just another way to get employees to work harder for nothing but airy rewards?”
This query, proposed by Virginia Heffernan in her article in The New York Times Magazine, really got me thinking. Sure, I’m as guilty as the next person for over using the term and under emphasizing its impact when employed in its most pure form. But who says we can’t explore the mindfulness journey even further and push it beyond its boundaries and Eastern practices?
Still, the writer has so many valid points including the challenge of not claiming the word as a way of excusing the “human condition,” but rather as a descriptive approach to facing what is staring right back at us, warts and all. Dang, she’s good.
And when it comes to our careers and the workplace, mindfulness is the path to peace, good health, reduced conflict and increased productivity.
“Mindfulness is about turning off the monkey mind and expanding that empty space between your thoughts,” explains Mona Nair, Certified Yoga and Mindfulness Coach, and popular TV Host.
“Employing mindfulness in the workplace can be a fun challenge. I see it as a nice little game I can play with myself. The ‘worse’ the situation you are hit with, the greater the challenge. Can you handle it calmly? You always have a choice in how you react. I like the analogy of the eye of the storm. There’s a huge swirl and upheaval happening around you, but can you access that place in the center, the eye of the storm, the calm place right in the middle of it all where nothing can affect you.”
Mona shared with me several simple ways to start the mindfulness journey. “The easiest way to clear your mind is to focus on your breath as you clear your mind of thoughts. Belly rising as you inhale and belly contracting as you exhale.” She recommends “visualizing yourself through a bird’s eye view. Sitting on this huge planet can give you perspective on how small some seemingly big problems are.”
She also recommends trying resources to help support your mindfulness journey.
“There are several good apps online, like Headspace,” explains Mona. “Find a good yoga class where you live, even one day a week can make a difference. Listening/doing a good guided meditation online or via a CD before you sleep at night could help you get a good night’s rest and function better at work the next day.”
This small investment of time in a mindfulness practice can have a huge impact at work and in life. “With everyone having to juggle so much going on in life, there’s a greater need for a daily mindfulness practice than ever before,” she states. “You are under pressure to be the perfect parent while also being the model employee, and the stress of one can spill over into the other. The nice thing about a mindfulness practice is that when you are hit with a major crisis at work, you don’t have a strong reaction to it. And that state of calmness helps you handle it better. Life, in all aspects, becomes easier.”
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.