When was the last time you took a mindfulness break and realized that it improved your day? Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. By being mindful of our thoughts, feelings and actions we can curtail automatic and habitual reactions. As a result we become more creative while seeing situations more clearly.
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By becoming less habitual with our reactions we can problem solve more effectively. Each one of these are examples of being mindful. By taking a mindfulness break you enhance your ability to be more responsive, creative, and effective.
Have you ever started eating a snack bar, taken a couple of bites, then noticed all you had left was an empty packet in your hand? How did you feel? Did you feel like you had missed something? Or have you ever driven somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize you remember nothing about your journey?
Did you feel relieved you arrived safely? Or did you even wonder about what happened?
What happens when Jane from the next office comes into your office and interrupts your train of thought? Do you go into an automatic defensive posture and feel irritated with her presence? Imagine instead, taking a few deep breaths, holding your place physically or metaphorically and responding to your teammate by being present.
Or during a meeting two people are convinced they are “right” do you automatically join in the fray by taking sides? Instead of an argument and having a project waylaid, what if you were mindful and focused on creative problem solving? Each one of these situations are common examples of “mindlessness,” or “going on automatic pilot.”
In our modern busy lives we constantly believe we can multi task. When we eat at our computers we forget to taste what we eat. We can easily lose awareness of the present moment, and the thread of the exchange, when we talk on the phone while on the computer. When we become lost in our efforts to juggle work, home, finances, and other conflicting demands we need that mindfulness break.
The simplest and easiest mindfulness break can be closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. By taking a few minutes to consciously breathe we change our emotions, and expand our energy. Instead of falling into habitual reactions to our colleagues of fear, defensiveness and anger we can respond more effectively to complex and difficult situations.
To create a more extensive mindfulness break begin by turning your phone and media off for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths, and begin a silent meditation for 5-10 minutes. You can listen to soft music, focus on a mantra, or just scan your body with your breath.
Meditation can be simple, it’s the act of quieting your mind that creates the meditation. The rejuvenation you will feel will be greater than a visit to the coffee machine, and much better for your body. More creativity, greater skills in problem solving, less reactive to teammates, less judgmental of self is a recipe for greater productivity.