I was presenting a workshop on the Power of Pause at a business association conference for HR professionals earlier this month. During the workshop, a person asked me two questions, “How does one start being mindful? And, how do I bring mindfulness to my workplace?”
I paused before I responded. Then I said that if being mindful is about cultivating one’s ability for moment-to-moment awareness without judgment, then it starts with self. My thought behind that is, how can I bring that presence to my work if I’ve not given time to cultivate that internally?
Mindfulness is not just a set of practices that one does, like lifting weights. It’s not like going through a recipe book and selecting a recipe to try for dinner tonight. (I’ve done all the cooking in our household for years, so I can relate to this.) “Yup, I tried mindfulness tonight and it didn’t taste too bad. Maybe it could have been a bit spicier.”
Imagine asking people at your staff meeting that we are now going to be fully present with each other, moment-to-moment awareness, nonjudgmentally. Just do it. Oh my, you will get quizzical looks. Some people will be thinking what new management technique is this? Where did this come from?
My sense is to give yourself time to experience being mindful, because you are the practice.
- Begin with some quiet time each day, just by focusing on one’s breathing and bringing one’s wandering mind back to one’s breath.
- Practice just being present with one task and be aware of your surroundings. This means to slow down a bit and be conscious of bodily sensations as you do this.
- Be conscious of how your emotions trigger reactions vs. responses, and to understand the difference between the two.
- Just give time to just experience being.
Then, start bringing these new habits to work in how you are present with others, begin focusing on one thing at a time, and be aware of your compulsion to react vs. respond in emotionally and stressful situations. Continue the cultivation of your practice. The seeds you plant by your being mindful will soon sprout and others will notice something different about your presence. Once they do, you now have fertile ground to begin talking about your experience and planting thought seeds for them.