Mindfulness - the Zen-like meditation practice of concentrating on the self and the current moment - has been practiced both independently and in some education institutions for some time. Now it's finding its way into business with some of the larger companies embracing this latest health and wellbeing trend - even offering access to it during the working day.
So what's it all about and what are the benefits?
The practice of being purposefully aware, consciously paying attention to what is going on around us in the moment may sound a bit bogus. It's a bit like telling someone to remember to breathe - we all just get on and do it, don't we? When it comes to being aware though, not to mention being in the moment, a lot of us probably aren't quite there.
Work is one of the most common sources of stress for many and a good proportion of those who are stressed get through it by concentrating on what's next, while unpicking what has gone before rather than paying full attention to the moment and the current task.
Most people who work in an office also work 'on the go' as well as at their traditional stations. Anybody who has any sort of tablet device is most likely contactable by email 24/7. Over a significant period of time, day in and day out, this can be quite exhausting and that is where mindfulness comes in…
Celebrating and embracing each moment of life, mindfulness provides a source of relief away from the 'always on' culture. It is the antithesis of constant communications and the technology that enables us to always be available and in the mindset of work. It allows us to reduce stress and to achieve an emotional balance while improving the overall quality of working life. It can also work for the greater good and not just the individual, which is why it is proving such a good fit for big business.
The beneficial outcomes of mindfulness most relevant to business centre, of course, on productivity. The practice of mindfulness has been proven to increase employee productivity by generally making the employee happier and healthier overall and giving him or her an effective tool to manage stress. By taking what has been referred to as 'purposeful pauses' throughout the day, the practitioner is able to take him or herself out of the noise and make conscious and more thoughtful decisions.
In its own way, mindfulness is promoting a form of best practice all around. The considered approach should improve general internal communications as workers practicing mindfulness will be more likely to pause to consider how to improve communications with colleagues and associates and better approach tricky situations. (Again, this works for external communications too).
Greater tolerance between workers in the office is destined to lead to a more harmonious working environment. This impacts on far more than productivity. A happier office equates to happier workers who are less likely to take unnecessary leaves of absence and who will also be less inclined to move on.