One of many things the pandemic has taught us is that it is ok to stop, take a breath, reflect, and simply do nothing. I turned to mindfulness meditation as a way of coping in the last Melbourne lockdown and it has helped in many areas of my life, personally and professionally. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment in an accepting, nonjudgmental way. It is a way of training yourself to focus your attention in a certain way to calm your mind. It originated in Buddhist teachings and has become increasingly popular with numerous meditation and breathing apps. More and more people and organisations are realising the benefits of being mindful. I noticed the shift in myself with increased patience, focus, calm, and joyful moments.
Mindfulness can make a big difference when it comes to sleep. Often, the reason people have trouble falling sleep or stay asleep is stress or racing thoughts. By practicing mindfulness as part of your nighttime routine, you can go to bed focused only on the present. This requires you to practice deep breathing, which eases your body into a more relaxed state. Deep breathing also helps your body produce more melatonin, a natural hormone that can improve your overall sleep quality. Research has found that practicing mindfulness is also effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. In addition, it contributes to well-being at work and leads to happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Studies show that mindfulness slows down heart rate and brain-wave patterns, boosts the immune system and cardiac functioning, and that people who meditate experience less stress, fewer health problems, improved relationships, and longer lives. Mindful employees present higher awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. They can turn off work to pay attention to their surroundings, and they are as emotionally present in off-work times as they are during work hours.
In February 2021, I wrote a blog article about focussing our attention and why it is important to avoid switching tasks and reduce distractions. When we constantly flit from one task to another, we are not in a state of flow, and the quality of our work suffers. By practicing mindfulness, simply coming back to the present moment, we can train ourselves to become more focused, to get into a ‘flow” state, and avoid distractions, resulting in increased productivity and better quality of work.