Welcome to my very first blogpost 😊. In this weekly blog I will discuss anything that will increase your productivity at work and your personal effectiveness. For more information about the kind of articles that I will write for this blog, please read this page.
So, if you are reading this, you are probably wondering why mindfulness would benefit you at your work and in your personal effectiveness at all. Therefore, I will start this article with a number of benefits that will really help you. Personally I started mindfulness based meditation to better cope with the stresses at work. And for me it really works in the moment. Also, when I started reading about this topic, I noted that there were other long term benefits that really makes it worthwhile for me. First I thought that mindfulness was something that your typical hippie would do, however it actually increases your capacity for rational thinking and it is very simple and straightforward.
Here’s what the science says about mindfulness and meditation
A lot of research is being done on the effects of mindfulness. In 2013 scientists of the Johns Hopkins hospital conducted a meta study to find 47 qualified studies. The outcome of this study was that mindfulness can reduce anxiety, pain and depression. Under anxiety I would also place work related stress. So basically, it helps to reduce your stress levels to healthier levels. Also, there has actually been research that shows that your pre-frontal cortex grows, which is the part of the brain that governs logic and inhibits (extreme) emotional responses. This is an awesome side-effect, which you can use in the workplace as logical thinking is really required there. Next to that, the workplace tends to be full of distractions. Especially the open offices with flex spots. Applying mindfulness at work means that you can go of distractions and return to what you’re supposed to do.
How mindfulness and meditation works
Mindfulness meditation is about letting go of distractions and coming back to your point of focus each time. This point of focus can be different things, but a lot of people use the breath to focus on. Each time when you’re distracted, you’re supposed to return to your breath. So that’s it! It doesn’t get any more difficult. I’ve written down a short exercise at the bottom of the article which includes a bit more elements, but the core of the exercise is sitting down with your eyes closed and keeping your focus on the breath. I use the App “Headspace” on my phone as guidance, but it is also perfectly possible to meditate without any application. Personally, I like this App as it tracks how much you meditate and provides you with loads of additional instructions and tips (and no, this is not sponsored in any way 😉 ).
How to start the habit of daily meditation
In one of my next blogposts, I will discuss the mechanics of creating new and positive habits. However, in this article I would already like to point out that it is important to practice mindfulness every day. I would start out small with just 5 to 10 minutes of meditation per day. When you do this at a fixed time, for instance when you leave your bed, it is easier to make it a habit. And you should be kind to yourself. When you do not meditate for a day or for a couple of days, you can pick it up again afterwards. The positive effects of meditation take effect almost immediately.
Steps for an easy mindfulness meditation exercise
Here are some steps you can follow for your meditation. Remember, the most basic form is to just sit down and focus on your breath. When you get distracted, just remind yourself of the exercise without getting mad at yourself – getting distracted and returning to the breath actually is the meditation exercise. I would just set a timer for the amount of time you want to meditate, so that is one less thing to worry about.
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For a more comprehensive exercise, you can follow these instructions:
- Start with deep breaths in and out with the eyes open
- After a short while; close the eyes. Breath returning to normal.
- Scan your body from top to bottom. This means that you really check how each part of your body feels, without giving any judgement.
- Focus your attention on the breath. Do you feel the air entering your nose? Can you feel your chest moving up and down? Focus where you feel your breath the best.
- When your timer / alarm clock rings, let go of your focus and let your mind be free for a short while.
- Open your eyes again.
- During the exercise, it is important that you do not get annoyed or blame yourself when you get distracted. This is actually where the benefit of the exercise is and how you train your brain to get more focused. Focus is actually the ability to let go of distractions.
Well, that’s it! My first blogpost. I hope you liked this article. If you do: I’ll release new articles on this blog every Friday.