This article is the first in a series focused on mindfulness and its performance benefits. Research shows that practicing mindfulness for as little as 10 minutes a day can yield tangible benefits for professionals working throughout the enterprise—from the company CEO to the college intern.
A researcher at Hult Ashridge Executive Education explains: “People who practiced mindfulness for ten minutes or more each day had an increase in their ability to focus, to regulate their emotions, to empathise, to adapt to changing circumstances and to try out different perspectives. They became better able to collaborate with others, were more resilient and were able to handle the complex and uncertain conditions at work today. Mindfulness should be considered an important and effective intervention in developing leadership capacity for the 21st century.”
What is Mindfulness Anyway?
Not surprisingly, there are many definitions of mindfulness. Perhaps the most well-known is “the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Given the fact that the concept of mindfulness is often viewed as less concrete and thus often misunderstood, it is instructive to explore other experts’ working definitions of mindfulness to help further illuminate what it is and isn’t.
“Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment with an attitude of kindness and acceptance. The opposite of mindfulness is running on automatic pilot. Mindfulness is an evidence-based superpower that trains the capacity of the mind for increased attention, focus, prioritisation capability, creativity and innovation.”
How Am I Supposed to Find 10 Minutes a Day to Do This?
Let’s face it—professionals are so busy and finding even 10 minutes every day to mediate (or regularly practice some similar mindfulness activity) can be a challenge. Megan Reitz and Michael Chaskalson’s Harvard Business Review article “Mindfulness Works but Only If You Work at It” acknowledges that finding 10 minutes a day for consistent mindfulness practice can indeed pose a real challenge for many. They assert, “So let’s put the time commitment in perspective. We know that senior executives spend an average of 1,060 minutes awake per day. And yet allocating just 10 minutes – less than 1% of their waking hours – to practicing mindfulness proves demanding for some and impossible for others.”
Their research concludes that indeed the key to realising mindfulness benefits is consistent, formal practice. As such the article offers several recommendations for putting this into practice and establishing this healthy habit.
- Consider carving out 10 minutes first thing in the morning (before the chaos of the day has started) to encourage natural habit development.
- Listen to an audio exercise during your commute if that complements your daily lifestyle.
- During your chosen activity, don’t become frustrated if your thoughts wander. When this happens, practice curiosity and the art of allowing.
- If you feel comfortable doing so, tell those closest to you at work and home that you are trying to build a mindfulness practice. Tell them how they can help and support you.
- Connect with others who are interested in becoming more mindful.
New Year’s resolutions are filled with commitments to get back into the gym, eat healthier, etc. in order to strengthen our bodies, but for busy workplace professionals, it can be just as important to consider the steps we should take to enhance our minds. While broccoli, kale and blueberries might be super foods to fuel our bodies, mindfulness can be a super power to fuel our minds. Consider starting today—just 10 minutes a day could make a huge difference!
Source & Copyright: Forbes / Michael Chaskalson – Image: Pexels