Mindfulness is spilling into areas beyond medicine, healthcare, psychology and neuroscience. It’s moving into programs in education with children and college students, parenting, athletics, the legal profession and business.
Studies of Mindfulness in a business context have shown that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased burnout and executive and corporate mindfulness leadership programs are emerging to meet the need. A 2001 FAA study found that multitasking reduces productivity by as much as 20%-40%, while a study with business men in Korea found practicing mindfulness increased productivity. Pacific Investment Management Co and technology leaders, Apple Computer, Yahoo!, Texas Instruments, Nortel Networks and Google have all already instituted mindfulness training and wellness opportunities on-site.
How do you begin to practice mindfulness in a corporate or office environment? In an atmosphere where you may be easily distracted habitually shuttling between the past, future and multiple projects, mindfulness may seem impossible.
Breathing Exercise for Work:
Simple breathing exercises can be practiced anywhere. While sitting at your desk, you can inhale deeply for 10 breaths, counting on the inhale until your lungs are full (usually the count reaches around 4-5) and also counting on the exhale until the lungs are completely empty. Repeat this deep breathing for 10-20 breaths. Use your breath as a tool to bring yourself into the present moment.
Sitting Mindfully at Work:
Take a moment during the day and notice how you are sitting. Are you slumped and leaning toward your desk or computer? Try sitting with your back straight. The neck and head should be aligned with the spinal column, straight, but not stiff. Keep your eyes focused a yard or two in front of you. Notice your breath and relax all your muscles. Relax the muscles of your face, hands, arms and legs. Sit comfortably for a few minutes.
Practicing Mindfulness at work may initially feel uncomfortable, but the benefits are immense. Mindfulness enables us to more effectively listen deeply, make informed decisions, handle stress and innovate.
Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and freelance writer. She has worked in mental health since 1994, is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT) and has extensive training in Mindfulness. She is an experienced group leader and trainer in Mindfulness and DBT Skills Groups.
She has provided clinical supervision to DBT residential programs and was a member of the senior administrative team that designed Grove Street Adolescent Residential Program, a winner of the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Award. She functioned as The Bridge of Central Massachusetts DBT training supervisor for clinicians from the department of counseling psychology of Assumption College and the department of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
She also co-authored the article ”DBT for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities: A Program Description.” She has provided numerous trainings and presented at conferences, including the International Society for the Improvement and Teaching of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and NADD, an association for persons with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges, on the topic of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Her approach uses principles and techniques supported by research, including mindfulness techniques for managing anxiety, depression and other problems. You can get more tips and strategies for mindfulness on her blog at www.christymatta.wordpress.com