Colleen Gavin wants people to know mindfulness is not as complex a concept as some believe. She wants demystify it to make it more mainstream.
“Mindfulness, put simply, is taking in your present moment with all five senses,” says Gavin, a senior health coach at Capital Blue Cross. “It’s not about yesterday, or tomorrow, or five minutes from now. It’s about focusing on this moment, here and now.”
In our everyday lives, be it at home or at work, we face endless strings of tasks, emails, texts, instant messages, conversations, and meetings. It can be paralyzing.
Mindfulness can help mute the distractions and make us more productive, Gavin says, “because you’re more focused on the task directly in front of you.”
Big Names on Board
Mega-employers such as Apple, Google, and General Mills agree, and have implemented mindfulness training and practices at their workplaces, hoping it will decrease distraction, enhance production, and lend a competitive edge. That makes sense in a country where, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), 75% of people say they’re stressed at work.
In one study published by the APA, researchers found that participants in a six-week mindfulness program displayed less work-life conflict, more job satisfaction, and increased work focus.
“That’s because when you’re mindful, you’re paying attention to the things you do,” Gavin says. “You’re not in autopilot mode. You get more enjoyment out of what you do when you do it with intention.”
In-depth research on mindfulness’ impact is in its beginning stages, but is growing. And the initial data is encouraging. Various studies suggest mindfulness improves focus; reduces stress; and promotes empathy and compassion, leading to improved relationships.
“You’re paying more attention not just to the words, but the way words are said,” Gavin says. “And you’re able to foster relationships.”
We can all be more mindful by remembering to:
Make conscious choices to lower distractions – things like turning off pop-up notifications, answering email only during predetermined times, and finishing one task before starting the next.
Do breathing exercises that instill calmness.
Employ the STOP technique when stressed – stop and pause, take a deep breath, observe what is happening (good or bad), and proceed.
Do simple meditations.
Here to help
Capital Blue Cross actively encourages mindfulness through a series of in-person and virtual workplace programs, including:
A mindfulness presentation.
A breathing techniques and meditation course.
Stress management seminars.
Mindfulness is more than a trendy throwaway term, and Gavin wants people to know its benefits transcend a few fleeting moments of calm.
“Many people don’t realize how much mindfulness enhances your world,” she says. “A lot of people think it’s just for stress management, but mindfulness makes you more aware of things that you would not otherwise notice.”