22 Jun 2017
81. MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
By tuning awareness and attention back to the present, mindfulness meditation can help to combat the effects of stress and enhance performance under pressure.
Amid the many pressures of modern life, it’s unsurprising that much of our emotional energy is now spent either worrying about what has happened or thinking about the future. But by learning to focus on the here and now through mindfulness meditation we can deal with our external stressors better and change how they impact on our wellbeing and performance.
According to Dr Kate Joseph, Cognacity Wellbeing LLP, as well as reducing stress mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve focus and communication and reduce self-criticism and risk of burnout. “In particular, it is being used to help leaders and managers adapt to changing environments, improve decision-making and develop new ways of communicating and responding under pressure,” she says.
“Studies also show that regular mindfulness practice can improve physical wellbeing by bolstering the immune system, thereby helping to fight off colds and other illnesses,” she adds. “There are also impressive findings showing that even short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation.”
While the traditional image of meditation tends to be one of a lithe young person contorted into the lotus position, Joseph says there is no right time or place to practise mindfulness. “The key is to develop a routine that works for you. Find a time when you will not be disturbed by others and turn off your phone.”
While classes are a great way to learn meditation with others, there are also plenty of websites and apps that offer downloadable exercises and many short meditation practices that can be easily slotted into a busy routine.
These include a mini-meditation called the ‘three-minute breathing space’, walking meditations for those who find it hard to sit still, and imagery exercises for people who prefer to visualise a scene rather than focusing solely on their breathing.
“A simple way to build mindfulness into a busy schedule is to become more mindful during everyday activities,” says Joseph. “By paying attention to all five senses, everyday routines that we take for granted can be transformed into rich sensory experiences that take us away from our usual mental habits."
“At work, regular breaks should be built into the working day to calm the mind, as even a 10-minute mindful walk can increase productivity,” she says.
“Meanwhile, taking three minutes out in a quiet place can help to ground you when you are stressed or anxious and help you to focus your attention on what is important.”