How to Be Mindful At Work
People often ask me, “How can I be mindful at work? I can’t just sit and stare at my desk. I have to be working all day. There just isn’t any space for mindfulness.”
It’s easy to think of being mindful as something that only happens to people sitting in white satin robes on the beach staring at the sunset. But mindfulness isn’t just for perfect settings with perfect conditions.
I’ve had some of my most interesting moments of mindfulness perched on top of a dusty old water heater or sitting at the airport after a flight cancelation. The joy of mindfulness is that it works in almost any setting. It is a skill that you can use no matter where you are or what is happening.
How to Be Mindful at Work?
Here are five simple ways you can add more mindfulness to your day at the office.
1. Mindfulness Sprints –
While meditating for longer periods is important, you can also learn alot from short focused meditations.
Whenever you have a little space at work set a timer on your phone for one minute. Then hit start and try to focus on your breathe for that minute. Don’t let anything else get in your way. Try to put 100% of your attention on your breath.
At the end of one minute stop and ask yourself how you did. Did you get distracted? What distracted you? What could you have done to help you be more focused next time?
Mindfulness sprints are a great way to build your mindful muscle as well as learn what keeps your mind from focusing.
2. Mindful Sidebar –
Some people have jobs that are go, go, go, all day. But even if there aren’t any breaks there is still a way to find space for mindfulness.
Pick an activity you do regularly that doesn’t demand all of your attention. It could be sorting email or waiting for a receipt to print out.
Whenever you do this task, your goal will be to bring in a little awareness of your breath. Your breath won’t take up your whole screen of awareness; it will just be a small side bar. Your main focus will be your task, but you will try to keep your breath in the mix as well.
This practice can teach you to have wide awareness as well as how to carry mindfulness wherever you go.
3. Mindful Communication –
Another great opportunity for mindfulness is talking to co-workers. Instead of just waiting for your turn to talk, try really listening to what they have to say. Pay close attention to their voice, their body language, and even the tone of each word.
Then respond by reflecting what they said so they know you understand. This will not only improve your listening skills, it will encourage people to like you more.
4. Mindful Bathroom –
One of the practices the great Zen master Dogen Zenji did throughout his youth was mindful bathroom usage. He even went so far as to never face north while peeing and never doing so standing up. But you don’t have to follow such strict rules.
Instead, think of the time in the bathroom as a chance to practice mindfulness. Take the time to focus on your body and on your breath. Feel the muscles you use and sensations that arise.
Then feel the texture of the soap and the warmth of the water as you wash your hands. Notice the sound of the paper towel crunching as you ball it up. Then notice your feet as you walk out the door.
5. Mindful 5:00pm –
One of the best mindful work practices is done at the end of the day. As you pack up your stuff to go home, but before you leave your desk pause for a moment. Visualize taking all of the days worries and placing them into a brief case. Then place that briefcase on your desk.
Tell yourself your day is done and that when you get up you will not carry anything from work with you. Tell yourself that you will leave all the worries and concerns here at your desk. Then as you get up and leave, continue to visualize that brief case on your desk.
This small act of mindfulness helps you leave your work where it belongs and gives you the space to enjoy your life outside of work even more.
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