Business Mindfulness

After completing another hectic day at work, putting out fires, answering a myriad e-mails, and dealing with accumulated issues and problems, most of us just want to crash out, do nothing strenuous, or pacify ourselves with the latest Netflix episode. Nevertheless, tomorrow will bring new challenges at work with their inherent stresses. This creates a vicious cycle that drains energy and contributes to early burnout. Most of us just accept this as the nature of the beast. Work is fundamentally stress-filled and there is very little that we can do about it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Eastern belief systems have shown us the way to a more tranquil mindset, which can be applied to the business environment. Stress is a condition that we inflict on ourselves. Operating from a calmer mindset, problems and issues that arise during the course of the day can be handled with more equanimity. This approach usually transforms itself into better solutions, because we take the time to carefully weigh the cons and pros without rushing into decisions. By slowing down the brain we permit it to arrive at more well thought-out solutions.

The beauty of this type of approach is that anyone can gain this calmness of thought and action with some practice:

Calmness before and after the storm – Most of us operate a hectic schedule and find that time is very constricted. Setting aside ten to fifteen minutes of meditation time before and after work seems like an impossible sacrifice. But time is often dissipated on unproductive thoughts and activity that leads to waste. A calm mind is a more focused and less disturbed one, able to concentrate and prioritize better. Meditating for 10-15 minutes before the storm – in the early morning – takes some time but its net effect is time saved..

Review your day in a more relaxed state – After the afternoon meditation, let your mind quietly review the day’s activity, interactions with other employees, customers, and any unsolved problems and issues. Solutions will come with unexpected ease, so that you can be more prepared to tackle accumulated problems the next day. Dedicating 10-15 minutes after work will suffice and should create a more efficient flow of ideas. Just sitting down in a quiet space and slowing down your breathing may be all that is needed. You can accomplish this without anyone being aware that you are meditating. There are many free tutorials available on the internet. You can choose one that best suits your lifestyle and schedule. A helpful book on this subject written by a business person can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/197320438X

Eliminate the small stuff – Our minds are often entrapped in petty thoughts that take on a disproportionate amount of time. Many of these deal with ego and status infringements by others. We spend time overacting to perceived slights and negative remarks by work colleagues, family members, Facebook friends, and others. The old cliché of not sweating the small stuff can be more easily managed by a calm mindset. Name and breathe out these petty concerns during meditation.

Prioritize the big stuff – The same process can be used to prioritize the really important tasks that have to be undertaken the next day. A calm state will facilitate the choices that you have to make, and add an intuitive spark to the thought process. By being prepared for tomorrow you break the stress cycle, and begin operating in a more relaxed and productive state. Unexpected and disruptive events will always shake things up, but now there is recourse to a better approach.

Stop the brain traffic before bedtime – In order to start the next day on the right foot, we need a good night’s sleep. But the neurons and synapses of the brain keep transmitting all sorts of information and causes us to unnecessarily dwell on it. The solution may be to open up a book and read ourselves to sleep. If this works, then this becomes a form of meditation. If not, try a short form of meditation while lying down in bed, where you concentrate on your breathing or on a single sound (mantra). Try using a prolonged sound that resonates in the brain and removes all other thoughts (like sorrr.., or ommm..).

The one-minute meditation – Author Ken Blanchard wrote and influential book on management two decades ago called the “One-minute Manager”. It continues to be popular to this day because it simplifies the process of management into its essentials: the one-minute goal, one-minute praise and one-minute reprimand, etc. To this it would be very useful to add the one-minute meditation. Utilize this to prepare for any important meeting or event, to relieve stress and clear the mind of distractions. Either take a series of deep, prolonged breaths, or repeat a mantra sound internally for the one-minute duration.