You know that blissed-out feeling as you’re coming out of savasana? Or the grounded way you take on the day when you stay committed to your meditation practice? Wouldn’t it be great if we could pack that body-mind happiness up and take it to work with us every day?
If you’re working at companies like Google, General Mills, or Target, you already have access to mindfulness meditation at work. But if not, how can you begin to introduce mindfulness at your workplace?
1. Tap into Beginner’s Mind
As we practice mindfulness and become more comfortable with sitting in stillness and watching our thoughts with curiosity, it can be easy to forget how challenging meditation is. With open offices design, ongoing chat streams, and the other ever-present stimuli in which most of us work, simply being quiet while in the presence of others is often rare — and that means it can feel uncomfortable, awkward, or even scary. Before introducing mindfulness practices at work, tap into the attitude of Beginner’s Mind to see your own practice with new eyes and cultivate compassion for colleagues who may be skeptical.
2. Start with Why
With mile-long to-do lists, mounting deadline pressures, and full meeting schedules, your colleagues might see mindfulness as simply one more thing to do. Given the competing priorities we all face in a given day, we’re most likely to initially take on something new when the reason for doing it helps make life easier, solves a sticky problem, or aligns with our deepest values. Help your colleagues understand (and hopefully experience!) how mindfulness will help them deal with change, thrive under stress, navigate conflict, or find more balance. Share the science, speak from personal experience, and ask for the willingness to try.
3. Keep it Simple.
As “father of mindfulness” Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches, mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment, on purpose and without judgment. While many different tools exist, new practitioners are often best served by the simple, core concentration techniques such as anchoring one’s attention to the breath or body.
4. Practice what Your Preach
For so many things in life, we have to see it to be it. Consider how you might model integrating mindfulness in your workday. Perhaps you can ask your colleagues to pause and simply take 5 deep breaths with you before starting a meeting? Before making a high-stakes decision, could you ask your team to take a 3-minute break and simply walk outside or visualize the people that will be most impacted? Maybe you could invite your desk mate to step away from the computer for an intentional, mindful lunch instead of multitasking while you eat? Any change requires patience. As you model mindfulness at work, simply invite others to join you and learn from their own direct experience.