So many things to do… and even more things to think about – how do we keep up? A mindfulness practice helps us to step back and manage thinking.
I remember my ‘Computer Studies’ teacher, in the 1980’s, telling me, “You’ll only have to work a few days per week when you’re older… the computers and robots will do all the work and you’ll have buckets of leisure time!”
Nearly 40 years later, modern working levels have not changed much but the nature of our work continues to alter and develop. More and more work is mental rather than physical which can be enjoyable but can also lead to other-thinking which is not good for work concentration, efficiency and quality.
One of the issues with so much modern work being mental rather than physical is that we can be ‘switched on’ all the time. Either because we can be contacted 24/7, or because our massively complex minds have the ability to think about what ‘needs doing’ or what we ‘should be doing’ all the time…
When practising a mindfulness meditation, we notice this over-thinking – we step back – and return the mind to the breath. It doesn’t matter if it wanders off 50 times in a 10 minute practice; we let the thoughts go and return the mind to the breath: letting go of frustration, irritation or self-judgement, we simply keep bringing back the mind.
But how does that help? The work still needs doing, the emails still need reading and sending. Well yes, but mindfulness ‘allows’ us to step back from overthinking so when we are working we can focus more clearly and achieve more, with greater clarity and less stress.
And vitally, mindfulness supports a healthy work-life balance. When we are not working, when we are spending time with family or friends or walking in the park, we can fully do these things and relax. Each time our mind wants to take us away from the lush, green park back to the workplace – we step back – and return the mind to the park. So, rather than being mentally at the office, we are mentally in the park.
Therefore, when back at work, we are re-energised rather than frazzled.