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Mindfulness At Work

written byKate Nobleon 03/02/2016

It’s a new year, I’m immobilized with a broken big toe, and have just had a ‘milestone’ birthday so please forgive me once again contemplating the never-ending "What’s it all about?" question. Back in the 1990’s, as the result of a major health crisis, I began searching for ways to boost my self-healing powers, discovering in those early years what is now termed ‘mindfulness’.  

An insight dawned those twenty or so years ago, regarding the value of being present in my life, and how presence can bring a deeper meaning and added joy to each passing moment.  

Ample science exists supporting these spiritual wisdoms, including research in the field of psychoneuroimmunology – (the mind/body/spirit connection).  

Candace Pert was one of the first, although perhaps the least acknowledged, to conduct this breakthrough research. In her book Molecules Of Emotion she provides scientific data connecting the emotional state with endorphins and other immune supporting chemicals from our own internal pharmacy. Simply put – negative internal dialogue, which blasts through our minds at an unconscious level, shuts down our healing resources; positive internal dialogue, which typically requires conscious re-programming to acquire and maintain, turns them back on.  

Obvious as this may sound, I know from personal experience that it requires a leap of faith to break an addiction to focusing on past "what ifs", and step consciously into a positive, forward and solution thinking mode. More than a leap of faith, it’s a challenge to be present and to envision and design one’s own future, a future in which every moment has the potential to be experienced joyfully.  

Since my personal journey began in the early 1990’s, mindfulness has transcended (no pun intended) from a mystical/spiritual practice to a recognizably important aspect of personal and organizational health and well-being. Schools are adopting mindfulness programs for younger children and some organizations begin meetings with a brief meditation. Thought leaders have emerged in this field such as Jon Kabat-Zinn and others, whose teachings have been embraced by some of the most forward-thinking and successful organizations on the planet – Google included. 

No longer is meditation in general, and mindfulness practice in particular, reserved for gurus and mystics. In the workplace this evolution is just dawning. Gallup’s world-wide surveys on employee satisfaction continue to show, tragically, that 70%-80% of workers are dissatisfied in their positions. 

Shockingly the average time we spend working in a life span adds up to as much as 90,000 hours, and that’s not counting getting ready for work, traveling to the workplace and thinking about our jobs outside of working hours. Millions of people are unhappy in their working lives every single day. Employee engagement programs have by-and-large failed, despite the focus of the past few decades on developing a new breed of inspirational leaders. 

Beyond the obvious corporate benefits to leveraging the discretionary efforts of the workforce, surely we all want to make the best of our working lives. Personally, as a coach, I’m excited at the possibility that 2016 could be the turn-around year for employee engagement. 

I believe that within the next decade the experience of working will be transformed. Leaders are beginning to embrace the power of positive psychology and solution-focused coaching as a potent, effective and efficient way to support individuals, and teams, in the workplace toward consciously choosing success, joy, and fulfillment.  

The business benefits are clear. A happy workforce means increased productivity, higher retention rates, and significantly reduced health-related costs. Individually, the benefits to joyfully experiencing each never-to-be-had again moment of our lives is immeasurable.  

Although it seems obvious that we are who we think we are, in fact if we think we are less than we could be then wouldn’t we want to rethink it? 

Want to integrate mindfulness into your life?

Learn more about mindfulness and our upcoming The Art & Science of Mindfulness course.

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