How To Practice Mindfulness At Work-Ultimate Guide

how to practice mindfulness at work

In this guide, I’ll show you how to bring the quality of mindfulness to your work, which will help you to increase your productivity and reduce stress. Plus, it will make it easier to deal with all those emails, presentations, meetings, phone calls, and everything else while keeping your cool.

As you might know, mindfulness is the simple practice of focusing the mind on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. It is a relatively easy practice, but it yields big benefits. That’s why corporations like Google and Apple now have free mindfulness programs for employees.  

As a corporate meditation coach, I have personally taught many people to be mindful at work. And there are lots of ways to do it. You can use breathing meditations, mindful stretches, Body Scans, and oh so much more.  

So let me share everything you need to know. 

How To Do Mindfulness At Work

1: Understand what mindfulness is 

Mindfulness is the state of being consciously aware of the present moment in a non-judgmental fashion and often involves focusing the mind on one thing at a time, such as the breath.  Read our beginners guide to mindfulness for more on this.  

You might wonder how you’re supposed to practice mindfulness while working. After all, it’s not like you have a lot of time. However, Shamash Aldina (author of Mindfulness for Dummies) says, “Mindful exercises can be as short as you wish. Even one minute of consciously connecting with one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise.” [4

So essentially, to be mindful, just stop for a short while and focus on one thing.

2: Just Breathe

The absolute most basic and most popular form of mindfulness is mindful breathing, which technically is called Anapanasati. All this is is focusing on the sensation of your breath moving through your body. It is best to practice for ten to twenty minutes at a time. However, while you’re at work you can stop every so often and spend just a couple of minutes mindful breathing. 

 3: Mindfully walking around the office

One of my favorite mindfulness exercises is Kinhin, which is the proper name for Mindful Walking. Essentially, this involves taking a slow walk while focusing on the process of moving your legs. It’s usually done in a field. However, you can find an excuse to stand up and go for a walk at the office warehouse floor (for instance, going to the print machine), and then focus on the walking. Your colleagues wont even know what youre doing.

4: Mindful Listening

Simply focus on the sound of other people’s voices when you are talking to them, without being judgmental. Got a client on the phone? Listen to them mindfully. This reduces arguments, heightens workplace compassion, and improves communication. Do not be surprised when your coworkers seem to enjoy talking to you a lot more!  This is one method I teach in my corporate mindfulness training.

5: Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating is exactly what it sounds like: being mindful of the process of eating. Basically, you eat slowly and are hyperaware of the movement of your mouth and of the taste of the food. This is actually one of the meditation techniques that I teach in our corporate meditation classes and it is very popular.  It’s also easy to do in your lunch break.

6: Desktop Zen Gardens:

A desktop zen garden is essentially a small box full of white sand that we decorate with a little rake. You will have seen the Japanese rock gardens with circular ripples of sand; these are the same but for the desktop. The gentle motion of raking the sand is very relaxing.  This is a very relaxing practice that will quieten the mind and dispel stress. Plus it will add a little decoration to your desk space.

7: Mindful writing

If your job involves a lot of writing or typing there is absolutely no reason why you can’t do that mindfully. Simply sit at the keyboard with good posture and consciously focus on the process of tapping your fingers on the keys. 

8: Try formal corporate mindfulness training 

We here at THE DAILY MEDITATION are experts at facilitating corporate mindfulness sessions. We will teach your entire company to be mindful, and show you all the best mindfulness exercises for the workplace. Be sure to checkout our corporate mindfulness sessions.

Benefits of mindfulness at work

Practicing mindfulness at work is beneficial for both the employee and the employer. I have seen this many times in our workplace meditation programs.

For the employee, mindfulness helps us to remain calm during stressful moments. In turn, this helps us to be more productive because we are more conscious of what we are doing instead of being lost in stress [READ:  Meditation For Productivity]. 

There are big pluses for the employer too. Not least the fact that a mindful workplace will increase both employee productivity and satisfaction. In turn, this improves employee retention rates.

A 2014 US study conducted by Dane, E., & Brummel, B. J.et al. [2] showed that being mindful on the job leads to a decrease in Turnover Retention because mindful employees are better equipped to handle stress.

Better Mental Health at Work

According to MentalHealth.org, 14.7% of employees suffer work-related mental health problems, the most common of which is stress (although anxiety and depression are also commonplace).

Practicing mindfulness and meditation at work improves workers’ ability to handle the pressure and expectations that can cause mental health problems. 

Mindfulness increases productivity

Meditation and mindfulness improve our ability to single-task (the opposite of multi-tasking). And this is essential for productivity. Indeed, research shows that multi-tasking reduced productivity according to research by Zheng Wang at Ohio State University.

But it can be hard not to multitask at work because you constantly have so much to do.

Janice Marturano, founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, says “The information we’re bombarded with [from emails, texts, etc.] can produce anxiety] and it can create a sense of disconnection that can overwhelm us in our professional lives”.

Do you feel like you’re constantly bombarded with noise and information? I know the feeling. Often when I am at work I continually get emails and messages pouring more and more tasks on me, making me evermore stressed.  But mindfulness can help.  

Reduces stress

The staggering amount of noise and information at work has given rise to the term “information economy.” 

Writing for the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley, Jacqueline Carter and Rasmus Hougaard say, “In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills.”

Thankfully, mindfulness helps us tune-out noise and people so we can focus.

Mindfulness makes workers more aware of what they are doing. It boosts consciousness and helps us to focus through the negative thoughts and stress that come from a demanding job. This increased awareness means employees are less likely to make mistakes and more likely to perform their roles successfully. It also changes the Default Mode Network part of the brain, so that if you are automatically multi-task you will naturally develop more of a single-task mindset.

Increases concentration

Perhaps the biggest benefit of mindfulness for workplaces is that it improves focus and concentration.

Research shows that mindfulness enhances the region of the brain responsible for self-regulation. That is, the Anterior Cingulate Cortex. In turn, this helps employees to avoid distractions, such as emails and social media.

The University Of Washington states, “…Those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative emotion after task performance…”

Taking It Further

There are so many reasons to bring a culture of mindfulness to your office space.  It benefits both employees and employers. Hence why big companies like Google and Nike are starting to embrace mindfulness, and smaller employers are following suit.

Many companies these days hire me as a meditation teacher to visit their office and teach their employees to meditate. This is a small investment with big rewards.

By introducing mindfulness in the workplace, you can improve staff morale, reduce turnover rates, and increase productivity. It’s a simple practice that benefits the whole team.

Giving Is Caring

By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion's Roar. Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul's biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield. "My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation" - Paul Harrison

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