Nov 6, 2020 in 

Adopting Mindfulness Techniques at Work Place

Integrating mindfulness techniques & retreats in company for employees performances, weighing the efficacy & drawback of it.

Irene Seow

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The Nuts and Bolts of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined by different researchers in varies ways. It is a common translation of a term from Buddhist psychology which means ‘awareness’ or ‘bare attention’ Mindfulness can be describe as ‘facing the bare facts of experience, seeing each event as though it is occurring for the first time’ and it is also quoted as keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality by a researcher, Hanh (Hanh, 1991). . To elaborate further, one working definition of mindfulness is a process of openly attending, with awareness to one’s present moment experience. This stage of awareness involves the current moment experience contrasts with much of our daily life encounter which we often lead to ourselves to allow our minds to wander unintentionally, functioning on an automatic pilot situation, and even supressing the unwanted experiences. Mindfulness practice can be induced in both state and trait changes which implies that temporarily changes the condition of the brain and the corresponding pattern of activity or connectivity (state change). It also alters personality traits following a longer period of practice. There are more research indicating that personality, including disposition towards mindfulness can change over time because of life experiences or through mindfulness practice, suggesting personality is itself flexible. The benefit of mindfulness results depends on individual differences in personality that likely to attribute to how they respond in contrasts of the brain function and structure, genetic predisposition, life experiences and environmental factors and so forth.

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Irene Seow

Counselor

100 $ / session

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Incorporating Mindfulness in a Company

How can employers implement mindfulness in the organization? Regardless which industry,  majority workers will face multiple challenges in turns of job stress or colleagues issues and expectations from superiors on so on. These tensions can come in the form of physical, emotional, and mental aspect. The increase of anxiety and stress put us in an extreme emotional mode. Many feel burnouts and started taking sleeping pills to sleep at night. This has no doubt, added onto employees’ depression, upside emotion, absentee behaviour and increase of sick leave regularly. Companies can  organize a yearly retreats to get out of the office and cultivate mindfulness practice for workers, which can assist employees to perform better after a break. Mindfulness emphasized the physical posture and mental strategies of focused-attention meditation and couple of techniques are use in mindfulness to assist people to distress.

We will be exploring 2 methods which are commonly used in some corporations. They are known as the “anchor breathing” and “quick body scan”. "How to go about exercisng anchor breathing?" Whenever we are feeling distress and caught in an emotional stage after a hectic meeting or in the midway of working on a important project that can be too overwhelming for our feelings and thoughts. Companies can created a “Mindfulness Room” with dim lightings with a comfortable long chair. Any  employees can access to practice the techniques to release their tensions but maximum time located is 20 mins so it will not take up too much on the working time. Staffs may rotate their turns to go to the room for any techniques they want to use. With anchor breathing, it enables us to bring our attention to the present moment as we tend to lose track of our surroundings. Mindfulness helps us to reconnect to the present moment and with anchor breathing, it allows us to take a moment to pause and check-in with ourselves again.

This technique can be challenging as there is some difficulty to engage during times of crisis. Nevertheless, it is still a useful tool for us to practice and our capacity to use this technique will increase gradually. This method is like dropping the anchor during a storm and provide safety for us till our conditions are calmer. By practicing this skill over time, it helps us to feel more stable and improve our ability to handle stressful situations. Anchor breathing requires several steps such as taking slow deep breaths, noticing our chest rises and falls with each breath. Placing our feet onto the ground, having a correct posture of our breath entering and exiting through our nostrils slowing. We repeat the exercise until we feel more calm or grounded. This technique is simple yet effective at the same time to release tensions out of our body. The difficult part of this exercise is at the initial stage of sinking in as our attention tends to wander off or it does not make all the distressing thoughts and feelings go away. Therefore, making certain judgements is not unusual and we simply need to bring our attention back to whatever we are observing during the process of practicing this methodology.

Another mindfulness practice is known as “quick body scan” which teaches us to recognize and experience our physical sensations. It is quoted that the recognition of physical signals such as tension or restlessness is important especially for the prevention of stress and burnouts. The body scan method enables us to experience how associative and strong the noise is in our thoughts causes. It is an approach to learn how to draw the attention to a certain point of regulation. Body scan is known to be able to help in healing our emotional pain and my staffs find this method deeply relaxing as it involves systematically sweeping through the body with the mind, bringing an affectionate, open hearted, interested attention through various regions, starting from the toes of the foot including ankle, the shin and the calf, knee, the thigh, hip and gradually the other regions of the body till the face and head. Body scan let us often become aware of the many ways in which our body sensations, becoming more attuned to this sensations arising from the visceral disturbed nervous system which can carry information such as our intuition, gut feelings, heartfelt sense and so forth about one being that is often hidden from direct consciousness.

Body scanning enable us to practice the existence of “non-striving” and is simply about being present and embracing ourselves with kindness. We will encounter whatever thoughts and feelings that arises in our body regardless as it being as pleasant as relaxation or unpleasant such as pain. Many times, this technique helps to improve in insomnia, and this benefits many workers who are suffering from that to improve in their sleeping pattern with restorative sleep at home or short office intervention. This technique can be practiced in a lying down or sitting position in their “Mindfulness Room” in the office. A program like this can be done with as little as 5 minutes by scanning large segments of the body at a time or 30 to 45 minutes comprising the whole-body parts that are encountering pain, stress or even tensions. It is normal for us to feel some physical sensations such as burning, shaky or trembling symptoms. Emotional reactions include release, joy, fear and so on with thoughts that may occur such as planning, evaluating, circular thinking as we perform the body scan technique.

Silver Lining of Mindfulness at Workplace

Amalgamating mindfulness contributes many rewards in many companies. As known, organization excellence relies on qualities within the workforce, including different levels of staffs. According to numerous researchers, there is substantial body suggesting that neurobiological changes can occurred during concentrative meditation and mindfulness-based training. These findings indicate the positivity in psychical health and in addition, mindfulness also enhance psychological quality and social interaction according to Ryback (Ryback,2006), with result that there is an expanded ability to listen to one’s inner voice, together with the capability to contemplate. This upshot to produces an increase at including mania, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, in parallel with post-traumatic stress as a form of individual viewpoint which reflect positively influencing organizational competitiveness in the workplace dimension. Such rise in mental health strengthens workforce performance, reducing work related conflicts. Thus, benefits organizational development. In engaging mindfulness, self-regulatory function can be improved and gain deeper insight, to obtain a balanced mind. Hence, organizations adopted mindfulness practice to seek a better job performance from their workers.

Transformation After Implementing Mindfulness

With the above researchers in support of mindfulness, it is not easy to put every employee into practice at the initial phrase. Encouraging them and starting them to manage and practice mindfulness was tough as being too authoritative with a force towards them can result as a rebound of negativity to occur. A retreats will be beneficial to all instead of being forceful. Companies which sent empolyees shows certain results indicates the following improvement from their employees:

1. Reducing of Stress

Mindfulness reduce levels of the primary stress hormone which is known as cortisol. Mindfulness enable us to show a shift in activation of negative emotions and associated in transference to positive emotions. Feedback from employers highlighted workers are more active and engaging in group discussion to resolve cases together via more communication after the retreats.

2. Increasing of Resilience

Resilience captures the capacity to rebound from adversity, conflict, and failure and to develop because of challengers. Retreats program not only bring better communication among employees and grow in the face of adversity in increasing resilience. Mindfulness enhances the ability to explore new perspectives, thinking creativity to distinguish thoughts from feelings and to respond to challenges rather than merely reacting.

3. Higher Quality of Focus and Concentration

Mindfulness is the practice of returning attention repeatedly to the present moment and task at hand. Employees do make an improvement to stay on task longer or multitask more effectively. This impact their performance greatly in productivity and allow them to better process information and behave more rationally.

4. Greater Workplace Harmony

Complaints and arguments frequently occur in the past among colleagues in some companies. However, with mindfulness practice, increasement of empathy arise and altruism makes the environment more amicable. It dissolves arbitrary social distinctions and encourages feelings of interconnectedness as mindfulness fostered the ability to be more empathetic towards others without taking in their negative emotions.

5. Employees Satisfaction and Well-Being

Employees well-being comprises of psychological, physical, and behavioural aspects such as their mood and eudemonistic resilience facets, are happier with more upbeat mood gradually over a period. Mostly filled with positive mind being contentment, equanimity, and compassion which enables them to experience huge decrease in emotional exhaustion and more job satisfaction as compared when mindfulness was not implemented previously.

6. Sick Leaves Decreases

Mindfulness not only benefit employees but also the company as lesser medical leave is taken when their stress and emotions are better managed. They will feel positive and happier thus performs better to benefit the company.

Is Mindfulness Inimitable?

Further research in integrating mindfulness at workplace or other disciplines are still evolving. Mindfulness may not always be functional, and it may also bear negative consequences for organizations. Employers which first implement mindfulness in the office have to understand not every employee is willing to accept this techniques. Some with complete no idea of what it is while others are sceptical about it. It is very important not to come off as proselytizing or too forceful for employees to engage into mindfulness practice if they are not personally interested, despite it can be a powerful tool to make available to employees. Nonetheless, there are also some downside of this tool as follows:

1. False Memories

Much research still pending as studies are showing mindfulness may increase false memories and it does not necessarily help us remember more effectively and result in less accurately in our memories. People who practice mindfulness may be less connected to reality which is debatable as said that mindfulness has subject to some important implications and has been previously argued to promote the specificity of memory. Current study also showed that mindfulness may also increase false recollection; that is, memory distortion. Despite mindfulness may also seem to be a useful method for eyewitnesses to prepare for testimony such as reducing stress and by increasing the specificity of memory. This may lead to false reconstruction of memory. With varies above issues, further study is needed to examine the effects of mindfulness on everyday memory distortions.

2. Less Creativity

Workplace mindfulness and creativity training is instilling the belief that one is capable of creative behaviour. This is known as creative self-efficacy and is an important predicator of creativity in the workplace. Although mindfulness has been found to be useful for problems which requires analytical thinking such as clearing the mind, there is also a greater state of mindfulness which have been associated with lower states of creativity. It does not assist people in solving a problem which needed insight. Therefore, with fact like this, mind-wandering might probably result employees to be less creative when shutting down the mindfulness practice process.

3. Narcissism

Mindfulness makes people feel good about themselves. However, studies did show some people received a higher self-esteem and may be associated with being more aggressive towards others and being able to enhance oneself. Despite no study has proven mindfulness result in narcissism, losing touch with egoless dimensions of mindfulness may predispose one to have an aim of superiority over others. Hence, in an office, leadership will be affected with narcissistic behaviour. And individuals in office can make favourable impressions in the short run, but in the long run their aggressive, arrogant, and contribute characteristics come into play. This will affect the company in impact of negatively and affecting the team’s performance.

In a nutshell, given extant experimental research which shows mindfulness practice did improves cognitive functioning, it may be also be useful to investigate further to the link of mindfulness with job performance in future research evaluating more pros and cons. As mentioned, mindfulness may not always be functional, and it may also bear negative consequences for an organization. I look forward for future research which may thus be interesting to extend our findings and examine these. Other potential processes underlying the beneficial effects of mindfulness is receiving more popularity as our world flourishes, implementing this to young children from pre-school till university should benefits them in terms of well-being is worth a lookout and I hope to see more researchers putting more effect into exploring this.

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