Much has been made of the importance of practicing mindfulness and how it impacts our personal lives and our work. Have you ever caught yourself ruminating about negative thoughts or past mistakes? And this probably interfered with the here and now and caused you to stress out. Practicing mindfulness will help you counteract this and feel better. The following article provides an overview of what mindfulness is and how it can benefit you.
What Is Mindfulness?
There are several definitions of mindfulness, like the ability to focus on the present, the intense awareness of how you’re feeling right now, the state and practice of awareness. Fundamentally, there is no judgement or interpretation. Things just are.
It is a form of meditation where you tune out distractions and focus on the moment. This meditation involves breathing methods and guided meditation to relax the body and mind. It teaches you to recognize negative or random thoughts and tune them out.
In short, mindfulness is the act of being in the present moment.
This type of meditation trains attention to bring mental processes under voluntary control and foster mental well-being. According to the American Psychological Association, researchers have identified the following benefits:
- Reduced rumination, that is, less focusing on negative thoughts that cause emotional distress.
- Reduced stress, decreases anxiety and negative affect.
- Improved working memory by suppressing proactive interference.
- Increased ability to focus and suppress distractions.
- Decreased emotional reactivity. It helps people disengage from emotionally upsetting scenarios.
- Greater cognitive flexibility. It enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way (Siegel, 2007a).
- Increased relationship satisfaction and improved emotional communications skills.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and father of mindfulness
Mindfulness and Creativity in the Workplace
It’s not unusual that team members get swamped in work and don’t have the time or mental space to come up with new and original ideas. So how can team leaders help their teams develop their creativity? The answer is mindfulness training. As mentioned above, the practice of mindfulness increases cognitive flexibility. It activates the area in our brain associated with more adaptive responses to stress and negative situations.
According to research, people who practice mindfulness can also see beyond what’s been done and can use insight to solve problems. Experts call this part of the creative process the incubation and insight stages. As a result, people observe things as if they were seeing them for the first time and can come up with original ideas. If a whole team practices mindfulness, however briefly, this effect is magnified, and the team develops new ways of doing things.
Some Mindfulness Exercises
There are few simple ways to incorporate mindfulness in your life. It only takes a few minutes to slow down and notice things with all your senses. Or finding joy in the simple pleasures if life and intentionally living in the moment. Also, breathing plays a fundamental role in meditation. Whenever a negative thought invades your mind, focus on your breathing. Sit down, close your eyes, and take deep breaths.
Of course, there are more structured exercises, which can be guided or you do on your own, like body scans. If you prefer to have some guidance, there are apps like Calm or Headspace that provide guided meditations, like the one below:
As well as providing language training, we include stress management techniques in our lessons to help our clients be more flexible at work. Get in touch to find out more about our classes and workshops!