, Inspiration

The ‘mindfulness’ movement…

Being a Byron Bay based coworking space, one might assume that our midweek mindfulness sessions are purely for hippies and spiro’s!

That may have been the case once upon a time, although these day’s,  mindfulness training courses are becoming the norm in huge corporations in big cities around the world. Companies are finding it reduces stress and absenteeism, increases productivity, develops better leaders, and generates more creative workplaces. It also enhances cognitive thinking skills and triggers more imaginative solutions.

So what exactly is mindfulness you ask?  Mindfulness essentially means moment-to-moment awareness. Originally a Buddhist tradition, the basic philosophy is this:

When you are mindful – you become keenly aware of yourself and your surroundings, but you simply observe yourself and your surroundings, observing these things as they are. You are aware of your own thoughts and feelings, but you do not react to them in the same way that you would if you were on ‘autopilot’. Essentially, by not labelling or judging the events and circumstances taking place around you, you are freed from your normal tendency to react.

Retraining your mind to be contemplative and not reactionary may seem a little daunting at first. Here at Sustainable Valley we try to focus on one exercise per week in our midweek ‘humpfulness’ sessions with Mind and Body coach, Erin Tetarenko.

These sessions are focused on enhancing our work performance by using mindfulness strategies to improve our selves holistically through health, life satisfaction, wellbeing and overall quality of life.

A recent example of one of our ‘humpfulness’ sessions was focused on sitting with our emotions. Erin posed the question to the group – “Where do you go for refuge?”

After we all contemplated this, she responded by explaining,

“All of us need refuge at some point or another in our lives. We’re wired for survival so when we feel strong emotions emerging, the adrenaline rush of powerful feelings affect us mentally and physically (preparing us for a flight, fight or freeze response). In moments like this, a lot of us have learned to take refuge outside of ourselves. We look for escapism in everything from food, busyness, excessive work, alcohol, or drugs. Other times, we look for protection in material possessions, career prestige, titles, # of likes /followers, status, or whatever. Although these options provide relief in the moment, the respite is fleeting. Mindfulness practices teach us that our own bodies are incredible vehicles for us to take refuge in. Instead of reacting to or denying powerful emotions (like anger, nervousness, guilt, shame, disappointment), we learn to ‘be with’ the uncomfortable feelings… getting curious with and observing where the energy is contained or moving within the body. Today’s mindfulness practice is focussed on being with emotions. When powerful emotions arise: notice where you feel the emotions within your body, breathe into the feelings, open up and make room for them, acknowledge that they are a normal part of the human experience, and then offer yourself compassion by placing a loving hand on where you feel the sensation the most.”

A recent report from the Australian Psychological Society indicates that one in four workers felt moderately to severely distressed in the past year alone. Participants in the survey, titled Stress and Wellbeing in Australia, showed the demographic facing the highest stress load were those aged between 18 and 35.

Perhaps mindfulness is something we need to place more value on in our lives and workplaces?

If you can’t make it to our midweek ‘humpfulness’ sessions here at SV, maybe you could look at practising some techniques from wherever you are in the world.

Remember to:

1. Make time for mindfulness

It’s all well and good for corporations to be committed to mindfulness, but time has to be allocated for employees to sit quietly and actually practice it. If your workplace is yet to jump on the mindfulness wagon, practice it yourself at home.

‘You should meditate quietly for 20 minutes a day; if your are too busy to do that, you should meditate for an hour.’ (Zen Proverb)

2. Introduce mindfulness in your workplace

If your in a position to, offer mindfulness within staff development courses – looking at mindfulness based stress management for managers and all levels of employment.

3. Remain sensitive to your workplace culture

If the word ‘mindfulness’ is just to hippy dippy for your workplace, look at reframing it with words like ‘being-ness’, ‘awareness’ or ‘ getting in the zone’.

4. Practise mindful breathing to restore your centre of calm.

Either encourage your employees to do this, or practise it yourself. Mindful breathing is extremely helpful when experiencing stress. Simply start with breathing in and out three times, with a focus on nothing else but your breath. Try to eliminate all distracting thoughts and just let a sense of calm return to your present.

5. Create a space you can feel comfortable meditating in.

Do more than just express an interest in mindfulness, action it! Designate an area you or your employees can feel comfortable completing breath and meditation exercises in. We use a light, airy and sunny outdoor courtyard, surrounded by lush greenery here at SV.

6. Cultivate a culture of abundance in your life and workplace. 

Express gratitude for the good things people around you are doing.

7. Start by completing routine task mindfully.

Perhaps you could try emailing mindfully? Type out your email and take a step back. Take three deep breaths and focus only on your breath. Return to the email and re-read it. Do you still feel that way? Imagine how the person reading it will feel. Is that the reaction you want to achieve?

If your local to the Byron area we offer free midweek mindfulness sessions we call ‘humpfulness’, with mind and Body coach, Erin Tetarenko. Come along to Sustainable Valley and join the ‘mindfulness movement’ every Wednesday @ 5pm!




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