Wondering how to build more mindfulness into your day? If it’s possible or where to start? We show you how with our super easy infographic. We’ll guide you through 5 steps to get you started on your mindfulness journey.
Ever wondered what a mindful workplace is or how to create one? We give you the skinny with our step by step infographic and talk you through some easy to use mindfulness at work hacks to get you started. Here’s how to create a mindful workplace.
Mindfulness? Pah. You don’t have time to sit around doing nothing. Or maybe you’ve read the research and you’re sold on the idea of mindfulness but you just can’t find the time. You’re not alone, this is something that we hear frequently at Positive Change Guru. So what can you do to make mindfulness part of your day? We’ve put together six painless but powerful practices to kick start your Mindfulness journey. We show you how to start where you are, adding mindfulness into your day with just a few minor tweaks.
If you arrived at work this morning, feeling good, shared a few words or a joke with colleagues then you’re probably in an organisation with a positive work culture. If your answer is ‘Yes’ feel the love and sit this article out. If you walked through the door and the toxicity was palpable, sticking to the floor, your shoes, eventually enveloping you, then that negative workplace culture may be damaging more than your day.
Part of us knows already that this isn’t the right way to live. You don’t need to examine the science to know that sort of workplace produces a huge downer on your day, that sometimes it dominoes into the rest of your life, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. You muster all of your energy (and civility) for work, returning home with a huge vitality deficit, which slowly but surely infects both your personal time and your personal relationships.
But it could be worse than you think. I first noticed this phenomenon whilst working with a range of organisations over a period of years. From FTSE 200 to small charitable bodies, there was one thing that they all had in common. When the leader was all stick and no carrot the results were high levels of absenteeism, stressed out teams, demotivation and eventually a rapid staff turnover. Even more surprising at the time, this behaviour went unchecked and unchallenged leaving employees disclosing how undervalued, overstretched and frankly, ill they felt as a result. It was visible, easily recognisable. Leaders at the top had created a culture so toxic it was visible to everyone but themselves. Good businesses go bad, crack teams weaken or adopt bad practice by osmosis, emulating their leader’s despotic characteristics and eventually good people jump ship. It got me wondering. If negative cultures and dysfunctional leadership result in increased levels of absenteeism, what is the long term impact on our health?
Research in organisational psychology consistently demonstrates that a toxic environment characterised by hierarchical structures, narcissistic leaders, backbiting and gossip not only demotivates employees, reducing productivity, it also harms their health. Authoritarian leaders lack the self awareness necessary to recognise the hidden costs of such practices. Anna Nyberg’s research at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute highlighted a link between leadership behaviours and employee heart health. If your boss encourages a stressful practices in the false belief that a cut throat environment will increase productivity, it may just be damaging your health.
If you walk into work everyday feeling unsupported, dreading the next round of persecution or the pitting of team members against each other it could be time for a rethink. Sarah Pressman’s research from the University of California produced worrying data. Whereas the probability of early death is increased by 20% if you are obese, 30% for excessive drinkers, 50% higher for smokers it is increased an astounding 70% for those with poor social relationships. We do the same things, day in, day out, telling ourselves that we need to pay the bills, kidding ourselves that things aren’t bad, it’s ok really, when inside we know that we are in the wrong working environment. If your workplace is toxic it may just be reducing your life expectancy and that’s food for thought.
If you find yourself in a toxic workplace culture (or even inadvertently leading one) contact us to find out how you can adopt a more positive and productive approach at firstname.lastname@example.org Like to find out how you can embed growth mindset or mindfulness into what you do? Check out our forthcoming events and course brochure. Looking for something more bespoke? We’d love to talk to you about getting the most out of your team by using positive psychology, contact us to find out more.
Unleashing the creativity genie
The elusive muse. Creativity. How to unlock it, nurture it and keep it generating innovative ideas time after time. It’s the holy grail of the creative process. Mindfulness may be the answer to developing and sustaining your inner creative genius. Let’s take a look at how to apply it. [Read more…]
What to look for when choosing a mindfulness teacher, course or coach
You’ve been interested in mindfulness for a while and decided to give it a try. It’s now time to find a course. But amidst all of the advertising and the hype, how do you know what to look for, from a mindfulness teacher, a course or a coach? Here’s our step by step guide to choosing the right mindfulness teacher for you.
- Committed to good practice? Is your prospective teacher committed to the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness? The UK Network was developed to promote good practice in teaching mindfulness. Teaching Mindfulness in the UK is unregulated and the Network is an attempt to address this. Qualified teachers who have demonstrated that they meet the UK Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Based Teachers will be registered on the UK Network Listing https://www.mindfulness-network.org/listingspagenew.php This means that they have been verified as suitably trained, committed to continuous professional development, hold insurance and receive regular supervision.
- Your teacher has a regular Mindfulness Practice. You wouldn’t go to a gym and expect to find a personal trainer who had never exercised. You certainly wouldn’t choose them to show you how to train your body. The same is true of your mindfulness teacher. Training your brain is no different to training your body. It’s ok to ask them about their own practice, how long they’ve been meditating and whether they practice on a regular basis. Standard advice is that mindfulness teachers should have been practicing for at least two years before they teach others.
- Retreats. All teachers should have a regular daily practice and attend one retreat a year as a minimum. You need someone who has walked the path themselves before they can lead you.
- Do they have a qualification? Has your mindfulness teacher attended a Level 1 and Level 2 Mindfulness Teacher Training programme? Whilst this doesn’t demonstrate competence it does demonstrate a commitment to professional development. Ask them where they trained and who with. Find out about their credentials; who have they worked with? How many courses have they run? Solo or alone? Don’t feel bashful, a good teacher won’t mind answering your questions. It’s important that your teacher is following a framework when teaching, all of the research evidence is based upon courses led by qualified teachers delivering a structured Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programmes.
- Do they undertake regular supervision? It’s important that teachers have supervision on a regular basis. Your teacher should be able to tell you who their supervisor is and how often they meet. This is necessary for regular reflective practice as well as the safety of everyone involved.
- How do you ensure you’re up to date? All Mindfulness teachers should maintain continuous professional development in the form of workshops, peer evaluation and keeping up to date with the latest research. A teacher who has their own teachers recognises that we are all on a mindful journey, however long we’ve been practicing.
- Do they practice what they preach? Known as embodiment this simply means that they demonstrate mindfulness in the way they behave towards you and others. Look for someone who displays a consistency in actions and words. An authentic Mindfulness teacher will walk their talk. They’ll treat you with respect and compassion rather than use sessions as a platform for their own ego. Asking why they have chosen to teach Mindfulness and what motivates them to practice can provide valuable information.
Are they a good fit for you? Notice how you feel around your teacher. Listen to your intuition. Do they seem authentic? Do you feel that they have genuine humility and are there to serve you and others in the group? If it doesn’t feel right, find another teacher. Use your judgement, you’ll know when you find a teacher that is right for you.
We love to talk about all things mindful at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke mindfulness at work training for your organisation.
Positive Change Guru’s Mindfulness at Work expert, Gill Thackray, is registered with the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness. She has also studied Mindfulness with Aberdeen University, Bangor University, Dr Patrizia Collard and Google’s SIYLI Programme. She is currently researching Mindfulness, Leadership and Compassion at Aberdeen University.
A big thank you to Gill Thackray for her guest blog on becoming more mindful in five easy steps.
Mindfulness in minutes
Everybody is talking about it, but it isn’t new. Mindfulness and mindfulness based cognitive therapy have been effectively used to treat anxiety, stress and depression for a number of years.
Google famously use it in their ‘Search Inside Yourself’ programme, Deloitte, Barclays, Harvard Business School and UK Sport have been practicing it of late, even Transport for London are jumping on the mindfulness train. So what is it?
More than positive thinking or simple breathing exercises, mindfulness is an effective way to train your brain – it’s all about being in the present moment, consciously aware, paying attention without judging, and it’s a great way to promote happiness and mentally de-clutter.
5 easy steps to being more mindful
With regular practice, mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help you improve your overall wellbeing. Here are just 5 simple ways you can become more mindful in under 5 minutes a day.
1. The Traffic Light
This one is simple and takes just one minute. Think of what you do at a traffic light; STOP! You can do this sitting in your car every time you really are stopped by a red light, sitting at your desk or just sitting in your chair.
Stop: Stop what you are doing. Pause for a moment.
Take a breath: Breathe, it’s easy, we do it all of the time, we just don’t think about it. Really notice how the breath feels entering your body and how it feels as you exhale. Concentrate only on your breath.
Observe: Now you’ve had that pause and breathed a little, how do you feel? What’s going on for you? Just notice, observe it without judging.
Proceed: Time to continue on your journey.
2. One minute Breath
Another technique that only takes a minute.
Set your stop watch or sit in front of a clock and just breathe for one minute. Your aim is to focus on your breath for one whole minute. Notice how the breath feels as it enters the nostrils, how it feels cool as you inhale, how it’s a little warmer as you exhale. That’s all you’re doing concentrating on your breath for an entire minute.
3. Mindful eating
This is a mindfulness favourite and you can do it with chocolate, raisins, dinner, breakfast, anything you like as long as it’s edible. Get rid of distractions like the TV, newspaper, mobile phone, radio or talking and sit down to eat.
Give your full attention to your food; how does it smell, what colour is it? What are the textures like? How do you cut it? Chew slowly and really savour your meal. Notice how it tastes different? This is also a great technique if you are watching your weight, helping you to feel fuller for longer rather than wondering where that bar of chocolate went….
4. A mindful cup of tea
It’s a simple procedure, but there’s a reason it’s a ritual in the Far East. Making (and of course drinking) tea can be a profoundly relaxing experience. Notice the weight of the kettle as you fill it with water, listen to the sound of the water as it runs from the tap, how the light bounces off the endless stream. Notice the sounds of the water in the kettle as it comes to the boil. Stay in the present as you prepare your cup and the tea bag. Watch as you pour the boiling water onto the bag, how it floats as the steam swirls upwards. Then sit down and reward yourself as you notice the heat, the taste of the tea and all of the different flavours as you swallow.
5. Mindful walking
The next time you’re walking, really notice what’s going on around you, the light, the sky, the trees. Feel the ground under your feet, how you breathe as you walk, notice the buildings, your fellow pedestrians. Remain in the present as you head towards your destination. Feel the wind on your face and notice what’s different when you arrive at your destination.
The great thing about mindfulness is that you can use it any place, anytime, anywhere. Practised on a regular basis, mindfulness can improve both your mental and your physical health and offers a great return on investment for a few just a few minutes of your time each day.