Mindfulness

Have you gotten on the mindfulness bandwagon?

Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been a growing fad in the working world since the mid-2000s.  Google, Aetna, General Mills, Intel, Keurig, and Target, as well as the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the European Central Bank, and the US Marines all have employee programs tailored to foster mindful practices.

If they are all practicing mindfulness, shouldn’t we?

Benefits of Mindfulness

One of the leading authorities on mindfulness, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor emeritus of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” As an example, a simple mindfulness exercise is to sit quietly and focus on your breathing for two minutes.  That’s it.

Although mindfulness has lots of enthusiastic supports who make strong, yet diverse claims about its potential for success, one of its more relevant applications focuses on workers attention and engagement.

According to Gloria Mark, professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, office workers are interrupted every three minutes during the day, with distractions coming in both digital and human forms. Another study in the Wall Street Journal reported that, on average, employees visit Facebook 21 times a day and check email 74 times.

These constant interruptions have been identified by major corporations as a source of stress and loss in employee productivity, which both result in a negative impact on the business’s bottom line.  To counteract this, many companies utilize employee mindfulness programs which have reported a significant reduction in stress levels, an increase in productivity, and a noteworthy reduction in healthcare costs.

In fairness, however, there happen to be many other ways not associated with mindfulness to reduce stress, increase productivity, and lower healthcare costs.

Meditation

One outstanding component of mindfulness is its training for meditation.

Mindfulness meditation seems to produce real results that are not replicated in other secular applications.  While mindfulness meditation does produce a reduction in stress and lower healthcare issues, its real benefit is its spiritualistic product.

Psychology Today comments, “Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are. Instead, it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by moment. We could say that it teaches us how to be unconditionally present; that is, it helps us be present with whatever is happening, no matter what it is.”

Mindfulness meditation helps us see who we are and be realistic about what is going on.

How to Meditate

If you are interested, here are several ideas on how to start meditating.

  1. Get comfortable. Turn off your phone and get into an upright and comfortable posture. Dim the lights a bit, or shut them off completely to help you focus better.
  2. Focus on your breath. Close your mouth and focus entirely on your breath as it enters and leaves your nose. Don’t force your breathing here – just breathe naturally and observe your breath without thinking too much about it.
  3. Don’t think. This is the hard part. Don’t analyze your breath; just bring your attention and focus to your breath, without thinking about it or analyzing it.
  4. Bring your attention back to your breathing when it wanders.
  5. Continue to meditate for whatever time you set. Start meditating for short periods and gradually lengthen your time as you get more proficient.

The Bible

Many don’t realize it, but all Christians are commanded to meditate; mediation is not only the purview of the Buddhists.  Psalm 1:1-2 says.

 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

The difference between mindfulness meditation and Christian meditation is what the mind focuses on.  In mindfulness meditation, the mind is to focus on your breathing, and nothing else.

In Christian meditation, your mind is to focus on God’s laws and scriptures.  As Christians, we are to transform our minds continually, and that is accomplished by focusing on scriptures, their meanings, and how God intends for them to be reflected in our lives.

Meditation is great, even if your focus is limited to your breathing.  Meditation, however, on things that can transform your thinking and develop you to be a better businessperson and better friend and neighbor seems to be even more beneficial. 

Try meditating, but on a single scripture verse and see how God can ease your stress and transform your life.