Mindfulness has had a lot of coverage in the media over the past few years. For a meditative practice, with its roots in Buddhism, it is interesting to consider where the practice has found its place in the 21st century. From the NHS to schools, universities and heavy industry, more and more people are trying it out and finding that it can, indeed, be beneficial for our physical, emotional and mental health.
So what is mindfulness? It is about being awake in the present moment, instead of living our lives on automatic pilot. We spend a lot of our time either reliving or pre-living our lives in the theatre of the mind, focusing on what has happened already and what might happen next. The practice of mindfulness enables us to bring ourselves back into the moment, once we have noticed that our mind has wandered.
The body is a great way of managing our minds, which might sound a little strange. In mindfulness, when we notice our mind has wandered, we come back to the present by bringing our attention to the breath, and the body. Wherever our minds may go, our bodies can only ever be in the present moment. Yet mindfulness is not only attention training, we practice with a quality of kindness to ourselves, rather than harshly judging ourselves – which may be our usual approach!
Here are a couple of exercises to try, if you feel so inclined.
Coming Home to the Body
If you notice you feel off-centre, or ‘frazzled’, try this short exercise.
Bring your attention to the contact between your feet and the floor. Really feel the sensation of connection or pressure, or if there you have no sense of this, notice that instead – an absence of sensation. If you are sitting down, bring your attention to the sensations of contact between your thighs and buttocks and the seat of the chair as well, just noticing, without judging in any way.
Now bring your attention to the breath. Simply noticing the breath as it enters the body, travels to the lungs, and the slight rise in the trunk as you do this. Following the breath as it leaves the body, in the same way. There is no need to breathe in any special way, just let the breath breathe itself.
And every time the mind wanders, just bring it back to where you want it to be, with a quality of kindness.
You can practice mindfulness by bringing attention to the food you eat. Perhaps choose a snack, a piece of fruit – or chocolate – and bring your full attention to the taste, the smell, the texture and anything else you notice. And when your mind wanders, just bring it back to your snack!
Mindfulness in the Workplace
Join GWLAD for our work-based learning programme that looks at the research surrounding Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, and the impact on personal, professional and organisational well-being.
“I decided to join the Mindfulness in the Workplace course because work-related stress has been one the greatest challenges I have faced. My whole leadership style has changed as a result of the course, resulting in more effective ways of working and better team morale. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to improve the effectiveness of their workplace, as well as the quality of their own working life.” Dawn Smith, Managing Director, The Final Word
Mindfulness in the Workplace is one of many modules offered under the GWLAD Project. Through GWLAD, businesses and not-for-profit organisations in South West Wales can access up to 70% funding towards staff development courses and programmes, which are designed to be flexible, develop employee skills and improve organisational performance. Funding is only available for a limited time, so contact GWLAD today for further information and to start making a difference to you, your workforce and your organisation.
If you would like to find out how GWLAD can make a difference to your business, please contact a member of our friendly team on 01267 225167, drop us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org, or take a look at our website or Facebook page. Alternatively, why not pop along to one of our free and informal ‘taster sessions’, where you can meet the team, chat to our knowledgeable tutors and get a taste of how our courses can develop your skills and organisational performance.
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GWLAD is led by the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.