Seeking Mindfulness at Work

When I shared with my sister that I was beginning a mindfulness and meditation class through work, I could practically hear an eye-roll groan through her text response of “…really?”

In fairness, she works for a Bay Area based psychology book publishing company and has hear the word “mindfulness” tossed around in meetings more times than we heard “passive income” at FinCon.

But seriously, have companies and business schools caught on to something important? Dare I even suggest game changing?

On the first night of my class, our instructor asked us if we could remember the last time we had truly been mindful.

I looked nervously around the room, but was relieved to see that I wasn't the only one who struggled to answer the question.

With my recent freedom from a stressful workplace, surely I've experienced some moments of mindfulness over the past months, right? I wasn't sure.

Suddenly, my mind was swirling with ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed an under cooked brownie earlier. Did I consume that mindfully? What about the sounds of distant trains I've noticed during my evenings on the porch? Or the the way the warm, uneven payment felt against the soles of my bare feet when I stepped out quickly to check the mail?

I realized that I wasn't entirely sure what mindfulness actually was. Or why achieving it was so desirable.

Psychology Today describes mindfulness as “…a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace (affiliate link), our class' chosen reading material, poses the question “Can we really maintain our peace of mind in hectic environments filled with uncertainty?”

The book goes on to suggest that we can train our minds, through meditation, to perceive work issues and challenges as an opportunity to gain greater clarity and wisdom.

I thought about all the stress and anxiety that I endured at my last job and wondered how it may have been different had I developed these tools earlier. How much of an impact could mindfulness and meditation have had? Would I inevitably still have made a change?

According to the recent Fortune article, Is ‘mindfulness' just another management fad?, mindfulness has been adopted by many major organizations.

Google found their in-house mindfulness training so effective that they started their own school, the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, to help spread these techniques and ideas.

I'm curious to see if I'll benefit from mindfulness and how useful this tool will be next time I encounter a stressful work situation.

Note: If you're interested in exploring meditation inexpensively, I was recently turned on to a free app called Calm. There are quite a few free guided meditations you can enjoy without upgrading to ProAccess.

Readers: How has mindfulness and meditation affected your life and career?

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Discussions — 9 Responses

  • Erin @ Journey to Saving October 9, 2014 on 2:57 pm

    You’ll have to fill us in on how things progress with the class! I’m interested to see how it will impact your experience at work. While I make it a habit to practice gratitude, I find I’m often rushing from one thing to the next. I don’t take the time to linger on things and really enjoy them, so I could use a dose of mindfulness!

    Reply
  • Melanie @ My Alternate Life October 9, 2014 on 4:12 pm

    I also want to hear how things go. I have done some meditation and it has been immensely helpful. I need to get back into it 🙁 Mindfulness is about taking the time to be present, which can be so hard to do these days.

    Reply
  • Income Surfer October 9, 2014 on 5:19 pm

    Good for you Kate! I tried meditation to help with stress/anxiety…..with mixed results. I use other techniques now, but still hope to succeed at this meditation thing. One of my best friends does it for a few minutes per day at his desk, and it makes all the difference to him. Right now exercise and so forth are getting me through.
    -Bryan

    Reply
  • debs @ debt debs October 9, 2014 on 7:13 pm

    I look for small opportunities to practice mindfulness (sitting at a traffic light, waiting for my report to open in my browser) but I often find I’m just go go go and these chances don’t come up as often as I would like. Maybe I’m not doing it right, so am interested to know your experiences. I’ve never been one to meditate either but am interested to try under the right conditions. Thanks for sharing that Calm app, I’m gonna check it out.

    Reply
  • Mrs. Frugalwoods October 10, 2014 on 6:22 am

    Very cool! I meditate while I do yoga and I’m trying to incorporate greater mindfulness into my daily life too. It sounds silly, but, yoga talks about “breathing into” challenging poses and so I try to “breathe into” challenging situations. But, I realized I was breathing really loudly in a meeting the other day, so I need to be a little more stealth about it 🙂

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  • Myles Money October 10, 2014 on 9:38 am

    I’ve tried meditation and yoga, but as soon as my eyes are closed and I start with the deep breathing, it inevitably turns to snoring after a few minutes and I wake up 3 hours later having lost an entire afternoon. Let me know if you discover the secret…

    Reply
  • Michelle October 10, 2014 on 6:09 pm

    I cant wait to see how it goes. I am always looking for different ways to stay calm and stay motivated.

    Reply
  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 13, 2014 on 8:25 am

    Both have affected my life very positively! I probably practice meditation more effectively than mindfulness, but when it comes to spending I’m way more mindful than I used to be. It just slows life down a bit…but it’s easy to get caught up in the hectic-ness of it from time to time. It’s always something that is a work in progress. I think it’s great companies are teaching this, even if it is kind of a fad.

    Reply
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    […] an effort to be more mindful, I’ve tried to spend at least a few minutes at the start of each day considering what […]

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