Mindfulness practices transform who we are and how we show up in the world. We can become the observer of our thoughts and cease to be the slave to them when we deliberately pay attention to the present moment and the next moment non-judgementally.
Mindfulness exercises separate us from our constant absorption in the narrative state, which is a cause of much confusion and unhappiness.
It helps us to take back control of those difficult situations, providing more choice about how we react, as well as ensuring stress levels do not rise to unhealthy levels.
Mindfulness programs are the new corporate “must have”. Companies like LinkedIn, twitter, Barclays, google, KPMG and Sony all have mindfulness programs. They encourage staff and employees to spend valuable production time in a mindfulness practice.
There seems to be no shortage of research on the benefits of mindfulness including reduced stress, enhanced memory, improved focus, enhanced self-insight, increased cognitive flexibility, improved decision making, mental clarity, emotional resilience, increased immunity, slowing the rate of aging, managing chronic pain, improved sleep, decreased anxiety and decreased depression.
The benefits are immense!
Lets take a look at some of the facts about mindfulness.
David Michie in his book Why mindfulness is better than Chocolate said enhanced emotional regulation in the work place is among the reasons why Mindfulness is being embraced with such enthusiasm in the boardrooms and organisations. Issues of human interactions and difficult personalities can be challenging and disruptive. When we are less reactive, more centred, and better able to get along with people, the work place is happier and more effective.
Bill Bowen author of a Complaint Free World says “78% of U.S. workers estimate wasting more than 3 to 6 hours every week listening to co-workers complain”. For a business with 200 employees, that’s $1.2 million every year in lost productivity alone. A happier and more effective working environment could have significant impact on the bottom line.
Erik Dane and Bradley Brummel recently published findings that positively linked workplace mindfulness to job performance and turnover. Another study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed participants training in mindfulness experienced improved job satisfaction and less emotional exhaustion.
Research done by Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilber,t in a samples of 2,250 adults, they found that “mind wandering” occurred 46.9 percent of the time. In other words, almost half the time, people were thinking about something other than what they were currently doing. They are not present or focused on the task at hand.
Much of this mind wandering is unconscious without awareness. Mindfulness practice broadens our awareness of our wandering minds habits and builds mental fitness to deliberately focus on what we choose.
How much more efficient and effective would meetings be if everyone was present and focused? Or training sessions, output and relationships? In our western society we are so used to turning outward for fixes that a natural internal practice can appear too simple.
Practicing mindfulness for short periods has a significant impact on how we feel, think and act. Dr Davidson and Dr Jon Kabat-Zinnfounder of the Mindfulness based Stress Reduction Clinic at the university of Massachusetts Medical School undertook research in this area. They took corporate employees and taught them some mindfulness techniques and followed this with an FMRI, which revealed a shift of activity from the right to left prefrontal cortex. Signaling a shift from a stressful state to a happier state. The employees said they felt happier, energised more purposeful and less anxious. Even with a small amount of mindfulness practice a big shift can occur. They also tested a Tibetan Lama, one whom focuses his life on being mindful, and understandably he was positioned the furthest left on the happiness spectrum.
Mindfulness might feel like the new buzz practice, but the process of mindfulness extends back through the ages.
You can’t think you’re your way to mindfulness. It’s a practice that requires practice!