11 Jun Creating a Mindfulness Practice (for Work)
The magic of Swift Kick happens out of a collaborative workspace in Downtown Manhattan, called LMHQ. The walls are white (because we can write on them #WorkPerk) and it has a warehouse-chic feel to it. As there are a lot of businesses that work out of the space, there are a lot of personalities, each with their own work styles and
procrastination refresh tactics. Some plug in and chip away at their to-do lists and never need a break (cough, Tom, cough). Others take time for walks and talking to other people to re-center. Part of my New Year’s Resolution was to start meditating regularly. While I have not been 100%, I have introduced quiet times when I work from home. In the hustle of a typical 9-5 workplace, I started to think of how I can bring that mindfulness to work.
A lot of you out there in blog land are reading this (thank you) and thinking, “Melissa, I know what you’re getting at and I don’t meditate.” And I say to you: Keep reading. Mindfulness is much more than meditation. But let me not get ahead of myself. Let’s start with the basics.
What on Earth does that mean?
It means being quiet. Not necessarily in the audible sense, but in your mind. It means being focused on a task when you are doing that task, not while doing 10 other things. It also means:
- tasting your food, flavor by flavor;
- reading your book and not having to re-read the same passage five times;
- exercising with gratitude for what your body can do.
In Oprah’s book, The Wisdom of Sundays, she shares a conversation with researcher and clinician Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. In it, he asks the question, “When you’re in the shower, are you really in the shower?” Meaning, in that simple task, one we do every day (hopefully), are you present in the act of showering or is your mind somewhere else? If we can’t be in our own minds, quiet and present in the act of showering, how are we ever going to quiet the voice in our heads when we really need to?
I can feel you thinking again, “Melissa, I’m a great multi-tasker and I work best under pressure.” Uh-huh, me too. That’s why I was up until 3am last night working on a transcription project. Not very mindful of me. Or productive for that matter.
And others of you are thinking, “I get my best ideas in the shower.” And that’s exactly it! When our minds are relaxed, it allows our brains to make connections we couldn’t see before. John Kounios, a psychology professor at Drexel University, has been researching the brain’s activity for years finding that there is a “brain blink” before a moment of insight where you become less aware of your environment. (Read more from Headspace here!)
Mindfulness is just like eating healthy, doing cardio or shopping for clothes. Unless you feel good doing it, you won’t continue to do it. So make sure it fits your needs. Here are some not so obvious techniques that can bring you to a mindfulness practice (at work) that is unique to YOU.
Do one thing at a time.
“Multi-tasking” robs your brain of precious resources, according to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. I know, there are simply not enough hours in the day to do things one at a time. As I am writing this, I have 13 tabs open in my browser. I get it. The most important thing to remember is that it takes intentional practice.
Rather than full-on journal entries about what has happened in your life, make a list of things that you are grateful before going to bed each night. It can be a person, your dog, coffee, the ability to breathe – sometimes, life is hard and if being grateful for that simple ability is all you can muster up, then write it!
Level up – send loving kindness to people in your life. This type of meditation involves bringing images to mind for people in your life and for yourself. Sending compassion to others helps our brains focus on love rather than the stress we tend to feed it.
Sometimes, it’s that simple. Set an alarm to go off a few times each day and increase frequency as needed. Mindful breathing brings you back to the present moment and allows you to check in with your body and mind. Using this technique a few times a day has warded off headaches and helped me prioritize my next work task. If you want to up your game, check out the book 10 Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment for new ways to be more mindful every day.
If you lead a team, people look to you for guidance – even in the areas of stress management and balancing work projects. So, are you really in the shower?