Mindfulness at Work: What It Is, and How You Can Get Started Today

Reduce stress, improve productivity, and create a greater sense of purpose with a mindfulness program at work.

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The ability to multitask is a vital part of making it through your daily list of “to-dos.”

However, learning to give your full attention to one present moment can have a positive effect on how you manage both your personal life, as well as your business. This is what mindfulness is all about.

Mindfulness programs at work are not just something that big business can implement with their teams. Mindfulness at work should be considered more of a cultural aspect, and something you can instill every day.

To better understand mindfulness and the benefits it can have on your business, we interviewed Isabel Duarte, Mindfulness Leadership Coach, who defines mindfulness as “a quality of awareness. It’s the act of bringing our attention to the present moment on purpose and non-judgmentally.”

While some people equate meditation as the same thing as mindfulness, Duarte explains that “meditation is a way to practice mindfulness, but it’s not the only way. We can walk, paint, or eat mindfully. It’s about the quality of your attention as you’re doing the activity.”

If you’re trying to implement a culture of mindfulness with your employees, here are some practical first steps.

Assess your organization

Before diving into any new initiatives, it’s important to assess your current culture. Understand where your organization is so you know what to expect and what kind of roadblocks exist in your employee’s environment when it comes to working mindfully. There may be simple things getting in the way of people’s happiness and mental health. Without a proper assessment, your initiatives might miss the mark.

Clearly define your objectives and understand exactly what it is you are trying to achieve by introducing mindfulness. Speak with your team to gauge their interest and understand what would be helpful for them.

Duarte explains that once you have some idea of the folks who are interested, discuss how you’d like to proceed:

  • Do you want to have weekly group meditations?
  • Do you want to share and discuss articles or books related to mindfulness?
  • Do you want to partner with any local meditation groups?”

To learn more about how to plan and prepare to introduce mindfulness into your company, review this guide from The Mindfulness Initiative.

Keep it secular

The cultivation of mindfulness can be found with its most comprehensive approach in Buddhist teachings. The focus at work should be on mental training with no commitment to spiritual tradition.

Duarte says “Mindfulness is a secular and science-based practice but some guided meditations out there are Buddhist based, so be aware of that and make sure you pick material that is appropriate for your group.”

Create a regular cadence

Creating a culture that supports mindfulness means that anything you plan can’t be a one-off event. Rather, you’ll need to build a regular cadence around anything you do.

“Once your team starts practicing, word of mouth will bring more people to the sessions,” Duarte says. “Be consistent with the time and place and people will join in time.”

One way to start small and create a regular cadence is to begin meetings with a “mindful minute.” You can have everyone practice deep breathing exercises before starting each meeting. This way, people always know what to expect when attending meetings and mindfulness can become part of their regular routine.

Leverage free tools

Insight Timer is one free tool that offers a library of guided meditations. While tools like Calm and Headspace are paid apps, you can access some of their free content through their YouTube channels.

“A great and simple way to get started using these tools is to pick a time and location that would allow for you and your mindfulness group to be undisturbed,” Duarte says.

“Simply hit play on one of the available guided meditations. Sit as a group and when it’s over, discuss the experience together.”

Have a mindfulness champion at work

It will be much easier to make mindfulness a priority if there is someone within the company who is championing the initiative. Whether this person is you, or someone else, having a champion will help streamline communication and buzz around the office. This person can help encourage participation (though participation should always be voluntary and never mandatory!) and maintain engagement.

The benefits of mindfulness are not just something that can help your business, but something that people can carry with them in their lives, Duarte says.

It can help people develop emotional resilience, reduce emotional exhaustion, and reduce anxiety and depression. 

However, mindfulness is not a bullet solution and can be challenging for people who have experienced trauma, abuse, or depression.

Duarte says “to be aware of this and have your company’s Employee Assistance Program details available for quick reference if needed.”

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