Mindfulness Behind the Office Desk
Mindfulness may seem like a great idea, but how do you become more mindful in the context of a busy work day? You may have emails, phone calls, meetings, and presentations to deal with. And, of course, your own work! In the middle of all that, how can you apply the principles of mindfulness so that you feel more alive and present, as well as being productive? Here are a few popular and other more radical ways to be mindful at work.
When you accept yourself, you cut down on energy-draining self-criticism. You’re then much better able to enjoy your successes and smile at your shortcomings.
1. Productivity with one thing at a time
Single-tasking or doing one thing at a time promotes focus and concentration. In yogic philosophy the source of joy is found in being in the present moment, that means being mindful about every action in the given second. Office jobs often force us to multitask and handle two or more tasks at the same time or switching back and forth between tasks. Multitasking is seen as a way to create a dynamic vs stagnating work climate while in reality it creates a sense of time shortage, anxiety, stress and continuous pressure.
In fact, our brain is ineffective if madly switching from one thing to the next – we often lose or muddle information or waste time to re-concentrate after a switch. When we multitask we function under continuous stimulation and adrenaline burst, therefore the sympathetic nerve system is triggered. We create an illusion of productivity at the cost of our own health and longevity.
To accumulate Prana [in Sanskrit – “vital energy”] instead of dispersing it, try this mindfulness trick when you got plenty of tasks in hand: Time journal – allocate a block of time for each task consequently and stick to the plan. Note down what you achieved in that timeframe and how calm you felt.
2. There is always time for a mindful exercise
The more mindful exercises you do, the easier your brain finds it to drop into a mindful state. The process helps to rebalance your nervous system, so that you make reasoned decisions rather than automatically react to situations through fight-or-flight response.
Mindful exercises can be as short as you wish. Even one minute of consciously connecting with your body or one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise. Be creative about finding slots in the day to practice mindfulness exercises.
Breathing exercise – Box Breathing Technique
Observing your own breath is the best way to ground and reconnect to your body. Here is how we do Box Breathing:
- Breathe in counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Slowly exhale through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath with empty lungs for 4 seconds.
- Repeat steps 1 to 4 until you feel re-centered.
Eye Exercises – Circle & Figure Eight
Exercise for your eyes, also called a vision therapy or Trataka [in Sanskrit – “look, gaze”], is a great way to reset and bring mindfulness into your actions.
- Pick a point on the floor 10 feet away from you.
- With your eyes, draw a circle returning to the focal point. Repeat for 30 sec and reverse the direction.
- Trace an imaginary figure eight. Continue for 30 sec, then switch directions.
Take a moment to observe where you are at with your posture, sensations in your body and boost your energy by awakening your spine with seated Cat/ Cow
- Sitting up tall, round your back, pulling your abdominals into your spine, tucking your tailbone under and tucking your chin into your chest.
- As you inhale, allow your belly to move foward, arch your back, send your heart forward and (if your neck is okay) look up to the ceiling. Relax your shoulders and jaw.
3. Accept What You Can’t Change
Acceptance lies at the heart of mindfulness. To be mindful means to accept this present moment just as it is. And it means to accept yourself, just as you are now. It doesn’t mean resignation or giving it. It does mean acknowledging the truth of how things are without frustration and “taking things personally”.
I often ask my students at a yoga class: Why are passengers so afraid of flying while only a pilot has a yoke (airplane’s steering wheel)? Always do your best with the things within your scope and accept the things you can’t change.
At work we are always exposed to unpredictability – product competition, changes in the market, all-encompassing pandemic, war in the neighbouring country – we can’t foresee it all… Let’s say you have experienced a financial loss. It’s already happened. As soon as you accept that, you can move forward – talk to the necessary people, learn from your mistakes, and move on. Acceptance actually leads to solutions.
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