Mindfulness? Who’s Got the Time?
Startups and small businesses, by their very nature, stretch and stress their limited resources. Our Western World narrative intensifies this pressure: “the harder and longer you work, the more you will succeed,” and, “there are always at least four more things you have to get done now…”
While the thought of taking a break may seem counterintuitive, it’s actually a really good idea.
Today science is proving what many have known for a long time: practicing mindfulness lowers stress, improves your health and helps increase creativity and productivity.
While there are many ways to cultivate mindfulness, meditation is a key method embraced by business leaders and yogis alike.
MEDITATION CHANGES THE BRAIN
A recent review of the results of 21 neurological studies on the effects of meditation on the brain showed that meditation actually changes the brain’s structure and significantly increases its density.
Structural changes include increased activity in the area responsible for self-regulation, resulting in fewer knee-jerk reactions and greater flexibility when switching strategies. This region is also associated with learning and applying lessons form the past, which can be a great asset given the uncertain and ever-changing conditions of business today.
Both meditation and mindfulness help strengthen the part of the brain that is damaged by chronic stress, when when ignored or untreated can lead to depression and a whole host of issues that affect all parts of the body.
MINDFULNESS IN THE WORKPLACE
Aetna, Intel and Keurig Green Montain have all started to integrate mindfulness into their leadership practice and employee culture. These companies have found that both the business and its employees benefit.
Aetna discovered that employees participating in their Mindfulness at Work program reported a decrease in stress, an increase in sleep quality and a reduction in pain, all while increasing productivity by 62 minutes a week; worth an estimated $3,000 per employee per year.
WHY MINDFULNESS WORKS
In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Harvard psychology professor Dr. Ellen Langer said, “Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective.”
Being present can make you a better listener, which can lead to more open, authentic and informative communication with clients, employees and, well, pretty much everybody.
Mindfulness makes us more aware of our actions and their effects, and this helps us avoid mistaking motion and noise for effective action.
It also makes us more open to new ideas. By focusing on what is true and present in front of us, we are open to the possibilities of what can be instead of stuck on what was or should have been.
The ability to step back and put things in context lets you learn and understand why something is happening, which leads to more creative problem solving. It also allows you to make better decisions: is this really a problem that has to be solved or is it an opportunity?
As an entrepreneur or the head of a small business, your success often rests on your ability to adapt to changing conditions. Not only is each step of the journey different from the last, being able to recognize and adopt new innovative solutions to the challenges your company faces can give you the edge you need.
NO TIME TO MEDITATE?
Still can’t bring yourself to take the time out to meditate? Fear not, there are many ways you can practice mindfulness as you go about your day.
Pay attention to the details of what you are doing, whether it’s walking down the street or brushing your teeth. Notice your body and the air around you. Let go of distractions and thoughts and be aware of what your are experiencing without judging.
➠ New to mindfulness? Try these tips for practicing mindfulness without meditating:
➠ More on mindfulness from the Harvard Business Review:
Originally published at RogueNotion.com