While many of us value the focus, peace-of-mind, and resilience that mindfulness cultivates, it can be challenging to fit practice into a busy work day. In this post, MindSpace’s corporate mindfulness program director Jill Graham proposes 5 impactful practices and the 5 key moments into which they can be integrated.
- The morning mindset. Before turning on your computer, try a 3 Minute Breathing Space. This helps you take stock of what’s on your mind that morning, settle the mind into the present, and then create a clear and focused mindset for the rest of the workday. Capitalize on this state of mind to decide on 2-3 priorities for the day. How to: Sitting up in a dignified position, close your eyes and tune into whatever thoughts, feelings and body sensations are present from the morning. After about a minute of this observation, bring your attention to the sensations of breathing at the belly. Set the intention to be fully present with the breathe for about a minute. Finally, expand awareness to take in your entire body, letting the breathe in the broader context of the body. After practicing in this way for about a minute, open your eyes and set the intention to bring this spacious awareness into the rest of your day.
- Coming to your senses. Lunch can be a great time to restore your mental energy after a busy and depleting morning. Shift your brain from thinking mode to feeling mode by connecting with your senses. How to: Instead of eating your lunch in front of your computer take a few minutes to eat lunch mindfully. Pay attention and tune into the taste and smell of your food. Another option is to go for a short walk. If you can’t (or don’t want to) go outside, walk mindfully to the washroom, printer, or boardroom: pay attention to each step, notice how your legs are moving, how your feet feel in your shoes, and the contact between your feet and the floor.
- One act of kindness. Get a virtuous cycle of positive interactions going by helping make your colleague’s life a little easier. Not only will you feel good about contributing to their workflow, but a colleague might step up to support you when you really need it. How to: Step up if a colleague asks for help. Notice if a colleague is struggling with something or seems stressed out and ask if you can help out in some way. Make sure to clearly express gratitude and generosity when the opportunity arises.
- Taking a purposeful pause. Meetings can be a drag on productivity, especially when attendees are distracted or uninterested. If everyone at the meeting took a couple of minutes to focus their minds and set the intention to communicate mindfully, meetings progress more efficiently and decision-making will be much more reliable. How to: One volunteer can invite the group to sit in silent practice for a minute or two at the beginning of the meeting. He or she can offer the additional instruction of noticing the sensations of the breath and letting go of distractions when they arise. Before the practice wraps up, participants can be asked to set an intention for how they want to contribute to the meeting.
- Body Scan in Bed. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for feeling well and being effective at work. Ruminating on unresolved issues can really eat into those precious hours of sleep. To let go of a stressful day and allow your body to relax, spend a few minutes doing a body scan. How to: Starting with the feet, allow yourself to feel the different sensations that are present. Continuing up the body, noticing the legs, hips and pelvis, abdominal area, lower back, chest, upper back, neck and shoulders, arms, hands, head, and face. Bringing full awareness to whatever sensations arise and giving yourself full permission to let go of whatever preoccupations linger in your mind. Don’t be surprised if you fall asleep before you finish!