Mindfulness is easier said than done—especially at work. Everyday fatigue, new challenges, looming deadlines, and agitated coworkers are all obstacles to our peace of mind. So we asked four mindfulness experts how we can boost our inner office vitality through enhanced awareness, boundaries, and kindness.
(Courtesy of Steph Stern)
Steph Stern, Career Strategist and Engagement Manager at Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute
Between things… "Feel the transitions: the moment you get inside your office; the moment you sit at your desk and start working; the moment you have to go to a meeting. Breath in and out a few times just to bring more awareness to yourself and where you are. Reconnecting yourself to the moment brings more energy to what you are doing."
Mind over matter… "Sometimes mindfulness is a matter of choice. How do I want to accomplish my daily tasks? How do I want to relate with this person? What kind of energy do I want to bring in my office space? Take a few moments every day to think about those questions."
Stop overthinking it… "Overthinking can affect the ability to perform. Instead, close your eyes and visualize yourself achieving your goal with success. Remind yourself that you're good."
Be here now… "Engage yourself in what you are doing. If you aren't distracted, you can focus on what matters in the present. This heightened focus leads to higher productivity, which can cut a workday's hours significantly and allow you to enjoy the rest of your day with your friends, lovers, and family." // stephstern.com, siyli.org
Augusta HopkinsCourtsey of Mindfulness for Stress Reduction
Augusta Hopkins, Founder of Mindfulness for Stress Reduction and Success
Try mindfulness in action… "When washing your hands, allow yourself to be fully present to washing your hands. It is a simple task that you can do without thinking, so it is a great opportunity to practice being. Feel the water. Feel the texture. Feel the temperature. Feel your hands caressing each other. Enjoy the slipperiness of the soap. Doing so gives your busy mind a break and a chance to recharge."
When you lose yourself… "Use bells of mindfulness—a text message alert, an ambulance siren, or a honking horn—to help you remember to stop and come back to yourself. Sure, you are always physically with yourself, but how often is your mind, with your body, in the present? It is by taking the opportunity to come back to ourselves that we are able to notice when we are triggered, in the present, before we act on irritation."
Pause for poise… "The truth is we push ourselves too hard. When we take more breaks, away from the computer and phone, to actually be in touch with ourselves and our environment, we are much more effective and our creative juices flow more easily."
When the day is done… "Reflect on what you've accomplished, big and small. Acknowledge and congratulate yourself. Then, make a list for tomorrow. Take the opportunity to be with yourself as you transition out of work mode. If you are headed home, change your clothes when you get there. If you are heading out to exercise, enjoy your physical activity with presence and focus. If you are getting together with friends, begin the conversation by sharing something you enjoyed recently, are thankful for or happy about. Notice how this sets the tone for the rest of the conversation." // mindfulness4stressreduction.com
James Mitchell, PhD(Courtesy of mindfulmuslims.org)
James Mitchell, Ph.D, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Instructor at UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
Clock in… "Spend a few minutes as soon as you arrive at work to get fully present, letting go of everything that happened that morning. Repeat this exercise a few times throughout the day, spending a few minutes to pause, regulate your breathing, and do a quick body scan. Be sure to do this practice whenever you feel the stress starting to build."
When the phone rings… "Take a moment to let go of what you were working on, take a breath, and be fully present when you pick up the phone. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much smoother many calls will be."
Chew with consciousness… "Try to dedicate at least one lunch per week to a mindful eating exercise. Rather than wolfing down a sandwich at your desk or grabbing fast food with coworkers, choose a healthy, delicious meal to savor, giving your full attention to the aroma, textures, and taste of the food as you eat."
Think first… "When encountering difficult people or situations, take a moment to mindfully respond rather than reacting without thinking. Try not to take things personally, and stay grounded and positive about resolving the issue at hand." // osher.ucsf.edu
Master Stephen Co(Courtesy of Pranic Healing Center)
Master Stephen Co, Founder of U.S. Pranic Healing Center / American Institute of Asian Studies
Know yourself… "First, you have to know what are your strengths and your weaknesses. Are you a person who is more mental, or more emotional? How do you deal with stress—do you respond with your mind, or are you a person who stirs up emotions very quickly? Once you get that down, you are able to interact with your environment. The second step is to be mindful of what is your job and what are your tasks, what are the office politics, and what kind of people you are working with."
Kill them with kindness… "Many years ago, a person came to visit Master Choa Kok Sui in the Philippines and told him about this negative colleague at the office. Master Choa Kok Sui suggested he visualize this person and project upon him pink and gold light—colors related to love energy. In one month, the colleague became very nice with him. If you project negative thoughts...you plant negative seeds, but if you project positive thoughts, you plant positive seeds. As you change your attitude and your way of thinking towards this person, [the other] person will change as well."
When you feel overwhelmed… Practice Pranic breathing. Inhale six counts, then hold three; exhale six counts, hold three, and so on. If you do it for three to four minutes every day, it helps to calm your mind and your emotions." // pranichealing.com