Advance Performance | How mindfulness can help you to fully appreciate today
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How mindfulness can help you to fully appreciate today

How mindfulness can help you to fully appreciate today

“Remember yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift which is why it’s called the present.”

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Mindfulness is the subject of our latest podcast following Professor Mark Williams’ brief in Parliament on how mindfulness could significantly improve the UK’s wellbeing and productivity.

The term “mindfulness” is very much a buzz word of our era and there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings around the idea.  Heather Wright and John Bullock give a short introduction to the practicalities of mindfulness and how it can improve your effectiveness within your working environment and your personal life.

Heather defines mindfulness as she sees it as “the ability to focus on the present whilst keeping our effectiveness and clarity of where we’re moving forward.”  She believes “one of the issues in business is that things are changing so quickly people aren’t enjoying what they are doing now.

Research shows that our fast changing world, constant worries and overload of information is affecting our mental and physical health.  This means that we are not being as focused, as stable, as happy and as effective as we could be.

John says goals are very important and exciting “but you do have to remember the place that you’re in, and enjoy the place you’re in. Nobody is going to get the end of the journey and get the result, if you haven’t enjoyed the journey.

This is the key to mindfulness – the practice of being fully in the moment; an ability to be completely in the present.

So how can this help your wellbeing, effectiveness as a person and our productivity as a workforce?

Professor Williams presented the results of a year long enquiry and many years of clinical research from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and other eminent researchers such as Jon Kabat-Zinn from the Massachusetts Medical School.  Here are just a few of the proven benefits of mindfulness from

Anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability all decrease with regular sessions of meditation. Memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increases.

Mindfulness can dramatically reduce pain and the emotional reaction to it.

Meditation enhances brain function. It increases grey matter in areas associated with self-awareness, empathy, self-control and attention. It soothes the parts of the brain that produce stress hormones and builds those areas that lift mood and promote learning. It even reduces some of the thinning of certain areas of the brain that naturally occurs with ageing.

In his critically acclaimed book Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world, Mark Williams provides the 8 week programme of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, which is the recommended programme to be introduced throughout the public sector to improve the UK’s mental health, education, and justice system.  The programme includes 5-30 minutes daily meditation sessions on breathing, concentration, relaxation, and focusing on the complete present moment without judgment or criticism of the past or future.  This mindfulness meditation is a practice which requires commitment to build up the skills to ensure the results proven by research.

Interestingly, major employers such as Google, BBC and Tata are reported to be hiring mindfulness teachers to help staff.  115 MPs and peers have already taken the 8 week courses in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.  There are now over 700,000 subscribers to the meditation app Headspace.

Headspace is an appropriate term to refer to mindfulness.  The practice of mindfulness is giving yourself the time to focus on yourself, release yourself from critical thoughts and the “frantic world” around you to fully appreciate the gift of the present.

Returning to the podcast: “Today is today. Get out there, breathe in the air and go back to your desk and do what you can today and stop worrying all the time about stuff that might never happen.

We hope you will join us for our next webcast on Leadership Standards on 19th November.  Please register here to participate with us.