Mindfulness suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s really happening, but in the middle of chaos, how can you really apply the principles of it to your everyday-life?

Most people probably do not associate business with mindfulness. But the idea of mindfulness in an office or professional setting has gained some traction recently.

Encouraging employees to practice mindfulness throughout the day, or even bringing in an external expert to help guide the office through mindful practices can be particularly beneficial.

Mindfulness may seem like a great idea, but how do you become more mindful in the context of a busy work day? You may have emails, phone calls, meetings and presentations to deal with. And, of course, your own stuff. In the middle of that chaos how can you apply the principles of mindfulness so that you feel more alive and present, as well as being productive?

How does it work?

Mindfulness essentially means moment-to-moment awareness. Although it originated in the Buddhist tradition, you don’t have to be Buddhist to reap its benefits. This description explains the basic philosophy:

“When you are mindful…You become keenly aware of yourself and your surroundings, but you simply observe these things as they are. You are aware of your own thoughts and feelings, but you do not react to them in the way that you would if you were on ‘autopilot’… By not labeling or judging the events and circumstances taking place around you, you are freed from your normal tendency to react to them.”

Here’s how to be mindful at work:

  • Be consciously present:

Mindfulness is, above all, when you’re consciously present at work, you’re aware of two aspects of your moment-to-moment experience: what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. To be mindful at work means to be consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state.

  • Train yourself to avoid negativity:

The human brain is trained to look for threats and danger. So, mindfulness can train your mind to be more aware of this natural reaction and potentially choose alternatives beyond those for which we have been conditioned.

  • Use short mindfulness exercises at work:

Mindful exercises train your brain to be more aware. e more attentive exercises you do, the easier your brain finds it to drop into a mindful state. In the busy workplace, finding time for a 30-minute exercise can’t be difficult.

Some ideas for exercises: 

  • Make a clear decision at the start of your workday to be present as best you can. Pause for a few moments before you start your work day to set this intention in your mind.
  • Make an effort to work more consciously, even if that means that you need to work a little slower at first. Doing so pays in the long run.
  • Keep all the advantages of working mindfully in mind to motivate you.
  • Connect with your senses rather than getting lost in trains of thought when you’re doing a task.
  • Give your full attention to seemingly mundane tasks like washing your hands, opening doors, dialing phone numbers, and even just feeling your breathing as you’re waiting in a meeting room.

These little moments add up to make the day a more mindful one.

“All it takes is 10 mindful minutes”, the Andy Puddicombe TED Talk at London Fall 2012.