If you suggested to someone that mindfulness is encouraged to be practiced all day in your work environment, what would they think? I am sure the first thought that would come to mind is that you would be sitting and meditating all day. How can anyone possibly do this?
Many people might find it surprising that mindfulness practice at work takes no time out of your day. It can help us to be more productive, relaxed, and better communicators. We will be engaged in our work with our colleagues, rather than just doing our work.
Let’s say that you need to clean and organize your classroom or office. You have been putting this off for weeks. Organizing and cleaning will be the time to practice mindfulness if you approach it as such an opportunity. To begin this practice, focus your attention on this activity only, enjoying the peacefulness of the present moment. Some people might perceive this as torture, a hassle, boring, and tedious, and these thoughts are the tools for practice.
While you are organizing your classroom or office, your mind will wander and many thoughts will pervade it, such as, “I need to pick up a few items at the grocery store after work, then pick up my daughter at school”; “I should check my e-mail, texts, and Twitter”; or “I hate cleaning, I just need to get this done ASAP!”, along with many other random thoughts.
These thoughts are the noise of our mind chattering. When this happens, our body follows and becomes tense as a response to future-thinking, or what we call anxiety.
There is no goal in mindfulness. It is simply an awareness of the chattering of the mind, how it drifts, and how it worries about the future and takes us away from the present moment.
Mindfulness practice involves being aware when your mind wanders and bringing it back to the activity you are doing, right here, right now. This will happen many, many times and you will gently bring it back each time. That’s it. There is nothing magical or complex about this practice.
Many people say, “I can’t do this, I just can’t focus!” When you have this thought, acknowledge it and bring your attention back.
Sitting meditation can be a way to practice this more deeply. One simple practice is to focus on your breath coming in and your breath going out. Your mind will wander from your breath as a thought arises, but you will acknowledge the thought and bring your attention back to your breath.
Your time is important, and mindfulness can make it meaningful.