Betsy noticed change as the physician’s brow dropped slightly, as she discussed the life-saving qualities of the medication she spoke to the Cardiologist about.
“Something seems to be on your mind. May I ask what your thoughts are about what we just discussed?”
The physician looked at the stack of patient charts on his desk, then back at Betsy. “I like the benefits of the medication, but it doesn’t do these patients any good if they can’t afford it.”
With the resources and programs available, a solution to a prominent problem in the physician’s mind was overcome. As a result, better care was obtained for his patients. Several sales representatives had visited this physician in the past, but, before Betsy, not one had uncovered his true objection to even attempting to prescribe the medication they represented. What was the secret? It sat clearly with mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being fully present in the moment…fully aware of what is going on now and within a person’s immediate surroundings.
Too often our goals and objective for a business interaction fills our minds and our thoughts, drowning out the signs and answers to a mutually beneficial business interaction right in front of us. Being deliberate and confident enough to release our mind from being solely set on personal goals and objectives to recognize and assess our environment, is when the real breakthrough occurs.
When the world and emotions seem to be reeling in my mind, and I struggle to be present at work or home, my place of refuge is the wilderness. If I have the flexibility with work and with the eight children I have running around my house, I do what I can to get to the mountains of Northern Arizona. There, the noise of the world just stops. The experience described in the novel Lulled for the character Malcolm, is the literal and true experience I had during one of my many excursions to the mountains of Northern Arizona. “The thought of the mountain lion tracks from the day before made the hair stand up on his neck. He felt totally aware of every small sound upon that mountaintop. He inhaled the crisp cool air that filled his lungs. The smell of dirt, sage, and pine scented the air around him. He was fully present, fully alive at this moment.”
Studies have shown that just a walk in the nature can significantly decrease stress and improve mental well-being. Reading about this research was not a surprise to me. I have lived it. Something about being in nature brings us back to the present moment. It creates an environment that makes being in a mindful state more easy to achieve.
However, what about in the workplace setting? What about the times when there is literally not a time, place, or even space to escape to nature? Even I cannot escape to the mountains more than a week or two every year. The skill and concepts so easily achieved in nature can also be realized within the workplace setting. One just has to be more deliberate about creating that state of mind.
The world of competitive business can be grueling and cutthroat. Often times, decisions must be made quickly and soundly, even when overwhelming emotions come flooding in as a result of too much to accomplish with too little time. At the same time, these work stresses also need to be balanced with obligations from home and family.
When emotions, stress, and exhaustion seem too much, a mindful conversation with yourself can make all the difference.
Elite runners are an excellent example of the practical application of utilizing mindful conversation to accomplish what could not be accomplished otherwise. For example, when pain and fatigue come crashing in on the final lap of a 1600 meter race, elite runners have learned from years of training not to resist the pain. Instead, the most effective athletes often have a mindful conversation with their selves that can make all the difference. Replacing the conversation an athlete has around the hurt and physical fatigue can move an athlete from not even placing, to finishing first in the event. For example:
Replace: “This is too much. It hurts to bad. I need to slow down.”
Replace with: “This hurts. It should hurt. I am working hard. But…I’m not the hurt. I’m separate from it”
These same principals of acknowledgement, acceptance, and separation of the individual from the pain or mental fatigue, can have the same record-breaking results in business as it does in athletics. Research has demonstrated that exercises like Mindful Meditation can be consistently implemented with incredible results. Mindful Meditation at periods as small as one minute a day, has actually been shown to strengthen and increase brain matter within the prefrontal cortex (the brain’s command and control center). This allows an individual to respond thoughtfully to stresses versus the often less favorable instinctual and emotional reactions.
Mindful Meditation in practice:
- Choose a time when distractions are minimized
- Get in a comfortable position
- Set a timer to eliminate the distraction of keeping track of time
- Breathe deeply in and out through your nose for 3-10 breaths
- Allow your breath to go back to its natural rhythm
- Focus on nothing but the sensation of breathing (notice the rise and fall of your abdomen)
- If thoughts come in, notice them, then let them go and focus back on your breathing
- Start with one minute per day and increase 30-45 seconds every few days
- Frequency trumps duration
Just as important as daily mental exercises, is the self-awareness and acknowledgement of mental fatigue during your daily work routine.
When you feel yourself slowing down, or the creative process coming to a head, a deliberate break will increase effectiveness and efficiency in completing the task at hand. Be deliberate about taking mental breaks every one to two hours during intense mental work.
While working form my home office, every 1-2 hours, I work to take a deliberate mental break. The key is to provide a mental break, but not to be fully idle, which can create an environment for thoughts to flood your consciousness. Engage in light activity that requires minimal mental strain. For me, its picking up my bow to shoot 6 to 12 arrows into the archery target I’ve set up in my back yard. For others, it’s a 6 minute walk to the mailbox and back. To others still, its 10 minute shower.
During this time that the conscious mind takes a break, the unconscious mind continues to work. On more occasions than I can count, the epiphany I needed to effectively complete the task at hand comes during these moments of space. Even at times when the answers do not come to me sporadically during that moment of space, they often come soon after re-initiating my focused work.
With practice, mindfulness can be obtained simply by paying deliberate attention to breathing, feeling the rise and fall of your abdomen.
I would like to say I just stumbled upon practices that brought about mindfulness in the work place. On the contrary, it stemmed from an inability to maintain the pace that life threw at me, which was compounded with the additional workplace travel and the responsibility of dealing with a family tragedy that felt like it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
All experiences, positive or negative, can be used to our benefit.
Today, I Choose My Fate, accomplish more, and do it better than I have at any point in my life. Being diligent about developing mindfulness into my daily routine has been a significant contribution to that.
To Unite and Share your perspective on choosing a positive attitude when adversity strikes, visit us at CYFworld.com.
Also, please take a moment to take a look at the most recent release from CYFworld Press.
“Gear up for quite a ride as you experience the personal story, struggles, tragedy and triumphs in this suspense novel as two university students uncover the real impact of the emotional numbing and separation we have all grown too accustom to.”