Too many employees are working on autopilot. Overloaded. Missing creativity. They are rather reacting than responding. No wonder that a growing number of businesses (Google, Nike, Apple, Coca Cola) invest in mindfulness training. Pixar, the animation company, has it’s own meditation room where employees can practice mindfulness.
Why Mindfulness? 28 benefits. Scientifically proven.
Research into the effects of mindfulness has been explosive in the last 10-15 years. It indicates that Mindfulness can offer as much as 28 benefits. Think of:
· Reduced stress & anxiety
· Increased cognitive function and memory
· Increased focus, concentration and creativity
· Enhanced performance
· Reduced absenteeism
· Improved physical health and life quality
· More effective communication
· More resilience (psychological flexibility)
· Better conflict resolution
· Stronger leadership skills
For the latest news on Mindfulness research , please visit the website of the American Mindfulness Research Association.
But what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, it trains us to explore and respond skillfully to whatever is happening right now.
For an employee, it means being fully aware of the task at hand, not thinking in the meantime of what is piled up in the in-box or what might appear there in the future.
Through mindfulness we recognize the degree to which our mental health and our happiness can be shaped by how we think and where we place our attention. Most importantly, we recognize that the main event that we give our attention to throughout the day is thinking. We’re mostly busy re-living and pre-living our lives in the cinema of the thinking mind. It’s so easy to get caught up in these thoughts about the past and future that we become disconnected from what is happening right now. These styles of thinking, if not monitored, can lead to continuous regret, worry and anxiety and all this rewinding and fast forwarding is exhausting and rarely helpful. It also leads us to react rather than respond to life events.
Mindfulness offers other possibilities and through mindfulness-based practices we begin to recognise and manage unhelpful thinking patterns and we begin to give more attention to the sensations of the body: to what we are physically experiencing and to how we are really feeling. Making this shift tends to make our thinking less ruminative, and more focussed as well as more creative. It also reacquaints us with our natural intuition and our innate ability to recognize when things are out of balance in our lives. Mindfulness-based practices help us to develop insights into the small, and sometimes big, changes that we may need to make in order to bring back a sense of balance. These efforts, over time, can lead to a reduction in life-related stress and to a greater sense of personal well-being.
How is Mindfulness learned?
A Mindfulness Course is proven to be an excellent way to learn the basics of mindfulness and to start experiencing its benefits. Research using brain imaging has shown that mindfulness meditation changes both brain structure and brain activation patterns. As little as eight weeks of practice is long enough for lasting effects.
Jon Kabat-Zinn speaking at Google about Mindfulness