In my recent blog Can mindfulness training protect us from high-stress, challenging work situations? I promised an excerpt from my book regarding being mindful. Here it is:
We frequently go through our day-to-day actions on autopilot. Not thinking. Not being aware of what is happening around us. Zoning out or not paying attention. Shutting down the inputs because we have reached our capacity. We often lose the present moment because we are thinking about the future or worrying about something that happened in the past. In doing so, we miss the gifts of the present — a smile, the beauty of a flower, the warmth of a touch or the gift of kindness.
When we are caught up in thoughts or worries, we are effectively absent from our body. No one is home. We might be walking by a beautiful garden, but we cannot see the flowers. We can be served a delicious meal, but we do not taste it. Our loved ones may be sending us strong cues, but we do not hear them. We are preoccupied. But by shifting our attention to the present moment — to our breathing, walking and surroundings — we come back into our body and become aware.
Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose. Noticing in a non-judgmental way. Being present. Living in the moment. Being aware. Giving 100 percent attention to what we are doing. It is about tasting the food we eat, smelling the scents of the out-of-doors, seeing the beauty in the everyday. It is about being present with our customers, clients, colleagues, friends and family members. Being in touch with their needs.
Being mindful involves quieting the mind and practicing stillness in order to create space for a deeper way of knowing, and increasing awareness of self and what matters. Thus, to be mindful is to observe self or as Wayne Dyer calls it, to witness one’s life. As we become an observer, we gain clarity about our unique purpose.
Being mindful is a way to access our own resources for growing, healing and self-compassion. Mindfulness provides access to the inner wisdom required to create the kind of life we wish to lead. Moreover, it is a practical way to get in touch with our authentic self. It involves self-observation and self-inquiry.
So, we want to shift our attention to the present moment and the nuances around us. We want to use all our senses, taking time to taste and smell, hear and see, touch and feel. We want to take the time to feel our connectedness with all things.
Mindfulness reflection. In what ways have you been mindful? Examples might include paying attention to the taste and texture of the foods you eat, being present and fully listening to a colleague or friend as they talk, or thinking carefully before speaking so that your message will be heard. Maybe it is listening to sounds, smelling smells and seeing the sights around you. We’ve all experienced mindfulness. Take a moment to remind yourself how it felt to be present, open and aware. What could you do to be more mindful?
I would love to hear about how you have been mindful at work and what difference that made.
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Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.