You know the feeling of being at work having lots of tasks to finish, feeling the stress levels rising and anxiety building up – yet not being able to focus? It’s those times when practising mindfulness can be extremely helpful.
During the research for mindfulness, we realised that many businesses do not disclose their mindfulness activities outside of the office into the public domain. At The Polyglot Group, we want to share our experience and inspire other businesses, teams and individuals to embrace mindfulness.
At our Polyglot Europe office, the team introduced mindfulness with weekly workshops to learn how to implement the techniques at work and in life. Our recruitment assistant Ole Kristian is trained to give workshops, guiding individuals and teams in various topics, such as mindfulness or conflict management. Our European team gathered in a comfortable surrounding once a week for an informative and interactive workshop on mindfulness. The workshop encouraged questions and time to practice the techniques so that each Polyglotter could develop their own mindfulness skills.
But what is mindfulness and how does it work?
Imagine that 47% of the time when you are doing something, you are actually thinking about something else. That means you are missing half of your life not being present in the moment. To truly enjoy an experience and be in the moment requires 100% of your attention. And let’s be honest – it’ hard to do so! Our minds are wondering off whenever they can, because we are filled with images, experiences, memories, tasks and much more. What can help? Learning to be mindful and not mindFULL.
“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” Killingsworth
Mindfulness is a psychological process where you attend to the current moment, and what is happening in that moment in a non-judgmental fashion. It is a form of meditation and takes its inspiration from Buddhism. It helps individuals to focus on their current tasks and let go of the anxiety and stress that comes with it. Being able to use this in the work life can lead to better overall performance and better well-being at work. With this technique, you are better equipped to deal with stress and anxiety. Naturally using this at home will also have benefits in private life. Try thinking of it as a muscle. It may seem like there are no instant effects, but over time with practice, you will eventually be able to reap all the benefits!
Mindfulness can be practised in a variety of ways. Keeping in mind that free time is difficult to come by sometimes, it’s recommended that small activities with daily practice are the best approach – which is exactly what was done at our Barcelona office.
Let us introduce you to six short exercises we put into practice:
The first activity is called mindful breathing – Actively focusing on one’s own breathing, slowing it down a bit and concentrating your thoughts on the air that one inhales and exhales. Our Polyglotter Claudia Lacaste really liked this one and described it as the following: “This exercise really helped me in moments of stress, or when I wanted to disconnect a little bit during breaks. I also used it before I fall asleep. I try to be conscious of my body, relax every part of it and fall asleep easily.”
The second one was mindful listening – Listening to a completely new song in a non-judgmental manner whilst actively listening and identifying the different components of the songs. The components could be the lyrics or the voice of the singer, or each of the instruments. By focusing on each component separately the appreciation of the work that is behind this art grows.
It was followed by mindful appreciation – Take notice of things that you often take for granted throughout your day, such as hearing birds chirp in the trees or the bus driver on your way to work. While researching and really thinking about these little things, we learned more about it and learned to fully appreciate its existence. Our Recruitment Consultant Sophie van Goethem put it into practice and described the following: “Every day I walk to work from my home to take the opportunity to clear my head. The moment I start walking everything disappears from my mind. It’s just me, the music from my headphones and everything I see around me. I really focus on the buildings, the trees, the people. I stop thinking and just observe with my senses. With practice, I have made this into a ritual and it really relaxes me. It gives me a break from the rest of the day and gives me new energy for the next hours to come.”
The fourth one was mindful observation – Pick something from the natural environment, such as a plant or an insect, and focusing on it for a minute or two. Try to fully take in all the aspects of it, like the petals of a flower or wings of a fly, instead of simply glancing over it.
The fifth exercise was mindful awareness – Take a moment to think of something that you do every day, such as opening a door or turning on your computer. During that action fully take in the moment and the often complex things attached to it. Such as, how complex a computer turning on really is or smelling your food and being aware of all the tastes that it combines.
The last activity was mindful immersion – Actively immersing oneself in a daily chore such as taking out the trash or washing dishes where people often try to hurry through. Instead, feel what you are doing, the muscles you use to hold the sponge and the water that trickles down your hands. Properly delving into it to feel all of it whilst not simply being on autopilot throughout it.
How to put it into action?
Our Global Head of Market Development Jacques Reynaud knows the struggle of getting used to the mindfulness practices, but successfully included a short meditation in his work life once a day. Jacques explained:
“I first got in touch with the concept of mindfulness, when I practised handball in a team. I never expected to start my day with a meditation. As for many new things, the mindfulness meditation did not come as easy or trivial as I wanted. But I always like a challenge, I thought I’d practice 30 days in a row to see how it feels like. This was in 2014 and I continue to practice and improve this technique regularly since then… because it works for me!
I realised that once my body and mind were in balance, I was more productive. Therefore the training with Ole Kristian at our Polyglot office was very helpful because discussing how such techniques can boost productivity in the workplace, was of interest. I truly believe such coachings can help businesses (and society as a whole!) to support the well-being of their employees. This is as trivial as it is key to compete in today’s business world and the key to creating a more purpose-driven business world for tomorrow.
I’m very pleased to have participated in Ole Kristian’s training on mindfulness and to promote its use in our workplace as well as within our clients’ and highly recommend sceptics to try it out. There might be a chance that it doesn’t work for you, but what if it does?”