What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is nonjudgmental attention focused inwardly. It provides perspective and context for the thoughts and feelings that otherwise might engulf or overwhelm us. It is intentional wakefulness that keeps us focused and present.
When we try to focus our minds we realize our thoughts are all over the place. Our minds are out of control. This leads to automatic reactions that may not include the newness, subtly or complexity of the situation. With mindfulness we gain mental stability and clarity. We develop the ability to respond consciously, to think creatively and to be open to new possibilities. This is very valuable in complex, fast paced and highly charged work environments.
Governments, corporations, hospitals, educational institutions and prisons, all over the world, offer mindfulness training because of its many benefits, including:
- Greater ability to manage stress
- Clearer and more effective communication
- Responding with awareness, not reacting out of habit
- Improved ability to address and work through conflict
- Improved coordination and collaboration within and between departments
- Heightened creativity
- Enhanced leadership
- Increased stability during periods of high pressure, deadlines, restructuring and change
- Greater ability to show up
- More responsibility for one’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
Particularly important to many companies today are the following advantages:
- More control over habitual thought patterns and emotional reactions including fear
- Better understanding of complex situations
- More tolerance for the “don’t know” aspect of new work
- More open-mindedness and more original thinking leading to more innovative work
- More comfort with uncertainty
The benefits for the individual are immediate. As they ripple into the workplace they soon positively influence co-workers. The company as a whole benefits along with its clients and customers.
Support for this inner work is essential. It isn’t easy to change habitual patterns. Regular meetings, group momentum, daily effort and guidance are critical to developing mindfulness at work and in life.