I've been teaching mindfulness meditation at different companies for a few years, including at my last company. Some of these companies have amazing cultures, others terrible. I was at some during periods of massive growth and others during periods of contraction. There is one thing that crosses all boundaries of company size, industry, title, rank, or company culture. STRESS. No matter where you work or who you are, work is stressful.
And stress can be exhausting. So often I'd be so stressed out at work running from meeting to meeting, that when I got home, all I wanted to do was veg out on the couch and do nothing. I had nothing left to give my family. Other days, I would bring that stress home and complain and complain. And the cycle would start all over again the next day. But what if there is a way to hit pause and reset on that cycle periodically throughout the day, then we wouldn't feel so drained by the end of it.
Mindfulness Meditation can give us that pause and reset. A few mindful breaks during the day can help us become more aware of our bodies, our emotions and how stress affects our bodies and emotions. And with that awareness, we can slowly begin to alter our relationship with stressful situations. Instead of letting stress hijack us, we can choose to respond to stress in a different way, with more ease and compassion. This is how mindfulness meditation can help us lower stress.
I have found that a short meditation break at work can help make a BIG difference in how we feel and function that day. Here are some tips on how to start building in mindful pauses in the workday.
PUT A RECURRING DAILY REMINDER ON YOUR CALENDAR CALLED "PAUSE" to remind yourself to take a one minute meditation break just once a day. Pick a time that you will least likely ignore. On days packed with meetings and more meetings, this is easier said than done. Trust me I know. And that is ok. Just having that mindful reminder on your calendar is the start.
TAKE A ONE MINUTE PAUSE. When the calendar reminder pops up, do this. Close your eyes, take a few slow deep breaths, then ask yourself "how am I feeling physically right now?" Notice your body and answer that question silently (lethargic, sore, energized, etc), then just focus your attention on your breath until you sense the one minute is up. There's no need to time yourself, just do what feels like a minute.
Somedays you will feel calmer and other days nothing. But remember nothing happens overnight, mindfulness is cultivated over time so consistency is key! You can do this anywhere. I've done this at Starbucks, at my desk, in the car, in a conference room, waiting for the bus, and even in the bathroom. Start with once a day, and over time you can build in a longer pause or do it 2 - 3 times a day.
IN MOMENTS OF HIGH STRESS, TRY THIS ONE MINUTE PAUSE. Close your eyes, take a few slow deep breaths, then ask yourself "how am I feeling physically right now?" Notice your body and answer that question silently (lethargic, sore, energized, etc). Then ask yourself, "how am I feeling emotionally right now?" (frustrated, angry, disappointed, sad, etc). Notice how your emotions and bodily sensations are correlated. Lastly, just focus your attention on your breath until you sense the one minute is up.
When is the last time you checked in with your body and emotions in a moment of high stress? Probably never. Try it and you'll be amazed at what you can notice.
START A MEDITATION GROUP AT WORK. Ghandi once said "be the change you want to see in the world." I say, be the change you want to see in your company! Do you wish that others could be more mindful at work or that mindfulness can become a bigger part of your company's culture? You don't need to be a meditation teacher to start a meditation group at work. All you need is a room with chairs and an app with guided meditations. Headspace and Simple Habit are my favorites. I was scared to start a meditation group at my last job because I thought no one would come. With a bit of encouragement from others, I sent out a calendar tap. And people came! People loved having a meditation break at work and eventually meditation became a part of the work culture, something we were proud of.
While you may think you don't have the time for this, just think about how much time you spend surfing the web or checking Facebook. I challenge you to just swap out one of those minutes for a mindful pause and see the difference that can make in your day.
May your work days be filled with more ease.