For many of us, life is busy. In this wired, “always-on” world, many of us feel overwhelmed with thousands of things to do every day. We try multi-tasking, but according to neuroscientists, our brain only works sequentially. So what happens? We stay distracted by multiple things and are not able to focus on what’s most important and meaningful in our lives. So what do we need? We need to create a space – a mental space for us to calm down, see what’s most important at the moment, and focus on it. In recent years, many business leaders turned to Mindfulness Meditation as a solution. And many fortune 500 companies started offering mindfulness trainings for their employees and seeing positive results in their job performance and bottom lines. Some people may think “meditation” is something mystical, religious, or spiritual, wearing robes and sitting cross-legged in a cave for long periods of time. That is rarely the case. While it is true that meditation has been practiced by spiritual traditions for thousands of years, Mindfulness Meditation is simply a form of mental training proven effective by science. And we can practice it at our workplace for as short as a few minutes at the beginning of the day, or even just three breaths before a meeting, and feel the results. Now, let’s find out what mindfulness is and how it can benefit us.
The Definition of Mindfulness
Simple definition for Mindfulness is “being present.” It is a state of mind when we are focused on what is in front of us, as opposed to a wandering state of mind – which some people call “mind-less-ness.” A wandering state of mind thinks about the past, worries about the future or is just being overwhelmed by lots of incohesive mind-chatter.
In the state of mindfulness, we have control over our attention. This control allows us to observe what is happening at the moment, right in front of us, and also inside of us with regards to emotions and thoughts. This gives us the capacity to intentionally turn our attention to what is most important right now.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Scientific studies suggest that the heightened capacity from mindfulness gives us advantages in various aspects in life, including:
- A greater feeling of well-being
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Less rumination or repetitive self-criticism
- Improved self-compassion
- Greater emotional intelligence
- More focus
- Improved relationship satisfaction
- Greater ability to manage emotional responses
- Increased productivity in the workplace
- Improved teamwork
- Better, more effective communication
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
There are different ways to bring out a mindful state. And Mindfulness Meditation is one such way being practiced by many. As stated previously, Mindfulness Meditation is simply a mental training we can practice for as short as a few minutes while sitting in an office chair.
Mindfulness Meditation commonly refers to an attention training exercise to bring your attention to your breaths for a period of time, typically for a few minute to start.
Sure it sounds easy, but doing is not. You will be distracted by thoughts and emotions and find yourself wandering away from the breath. This is ok, because the training is on noticing the attention-wandering and returning back to the breath. Just like building a new muscle, each time you notice it and bring it back, it builds up capacity to detach from distraction and bring your attention to what is most important in life.
Mindfulness Meditation is a practice that you set aside a period of time, from a few minutes to an hour, desirably in a quiet and comfortable space. But there are many other forms of practices available in Mindfulness training programs that are shorter and easier to do at any time in your work environment.
How to Start Your Mindfulness Meditation
Give this a try. Find a quiet spot where you can sit comfortably. Either on a chair or sofa, or you can sit on the floor if you so choose. Sit with your back and head in a straight but relaxed position. The aim here is to sit where you can be relaxed and alert at the same time. You can close your eyes, or keep them slightly opened, unfocused, slightly looking downwards. Either way is fine.
Let’s begin by taking a few deep breaths. Notice how your body breaths in and out. Where in your body do you feel your breath most strongly? Maybe your nose, lungs, chest, or shoulders?
Let’s choose one part of your body and notice how your body breath-in and breathing out. And maintain your attention on the breath.
If your attention wanders, just notice it, and gently bring your attention back to the breath. This is a normal and important part of the exercise. You can try our sample guided meditation today led by our founder Hiroyuki (Hiro) Miyazaki.
How Long to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
You may want to begin with a 3-minute mindfulness meditation session and gradually work your way up to 5 or 10 minutes as you get used to this exercise.
When the time is up, take one deep breath, and gently open your eyes.
If you’re interested in finding out more about mindful meditation for yourself or Mindful Leadership in the workplace, sign up for our free 30-minute consultation today.
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