Adopted by global giants: Deutsche Bank, Apple and Astra Zeneca, mindfulness is the latest buzzword sweeping through offices. Claiming to improve memory and performance, reduce stress and lower blood pressure, the simple act of becoming aware in the present moment, is set to revolutionise the way we work. If you fancy giving it a whirl, here are my top four tried-and-tested techniques which take no more than ten minutes in your lunch break.
1) Take a mindful walk: With so much of our time spent multi-tasking, the present moment gets swept away in a torrent or e-mails, reports and never-ending meetings. Getting away from your desk for just ten minutes at lunchtime allows you to break free from the racing thoughts and dilemmas which preoccupy our brains for seven hours a day. As you leave the office environment behind, take deep inhalations of fresh air and bring your attention to the repetitive sensation of your feet connecting with the pavement. This simple exercise creates a connection with the body which brings a grounded feeling of peace in the frantic rush of corporate life.
2) Eat a mindful lunch: From bowls of cereal to lunch al-desko, the trend in mindless grazing while fixated on a screen, frequently results in us not being aware of what food tastes like or of how much we’re consuming. (This is particularly the case with my mid-morning rabid chocolate digestive frenzies.) Breaking away from your desk for just ten minutes to savour lunch in a quiet place, can work wonders for your mood, stress levels and waistline. Slowly savouring a favourite meal in the present moment allows you to focus fully on the rich tastes and textures and also recognise when we’re full. Mindfulness can also teach you to acknowledge and accept the negative thoughts and feelings which fuel a range of disorders from binge eating through to anorexia.
3) Perform a mindful body scan – If the morning’s stress is getting on top of you – this ten minute mindful meditation technique works a treat. Slip away from your desk to a quiet spot and start by focussing on your feet. Slowly become aware of any physical sensations of tension or pain before working your way up to your legs, pelvis, stomach, chest, upper and lower back, hands, fingers, upper and lower arms, shoulders, neck, forehead, temples, eyes and jaw. For maximum effectiveness, tense the muscles in each area for a couple of seconds as you work your way up your body. This technique also works really well if you’re plagued with work worries at 4.00am. If time allows, you can also consider extending your mindful practices into a free thirty minute group guided meditation session with the World Spiritual University.
4) Take a mindful approach to open-plan working – from the relentless rattling of keyboards to the shrill cry of the phones, open-pan office life challenges even the most focussed individuals. But rather than trying to tune out the distractions (which ironically makes them grate all the more), a more mindful approach would be to become consciously aware of the impact the noise is having on your body. This technique works by enabling you to become a detached observer, which in turn lessens the power the noise holds over you. Sounds far-fetched? Give it a try and you may be surprised with the results.
Have you ever tried any mindfulness techniques at work? I would love to hear how you got on.