Use Mindfulness to Increase Your Self-Awareness and Effectiveness

An interview on the benefits of mindfulness with Peregrine Kavros, clinical neuropsychologist and Founder of Management Focus 

What is Mindfulness?mindfulness word in wood type

Mindfulness is a meditative practice that comes to us from Buddhism. According to founder Jon Kabat Zinn, mindfulness is a way of paying attention to what is happening in the present moment in a non-judgmental manner. Mindfulness is a skill that develops slowly over time; it teaches us how to be more self-aware and less reactive to negative events or stimuli.

Why is it important to be mindful?

When we are mindful, we develop the ability to enhance our health and well-being and have greater control over our thoughts. Increased mindfulness influences our ability to think about our choices, as well as our ability to experience pleasure, reduce emotional reactivity and increase attention. It can enhance empathy and reduce violence.

Mindfulness can reduce stress, enhance cardiac function, and improve control over food and other substances. It can reduce chronic pain, improve the immune system, and enhance brain function.

How can mindfulness help individuals perform better in the workplace?

Mindfulness helps individuals perform better in the workplace in two ways:

  • It controls our ability to sustain attention and focus on work more effectively. Mindfulness is an excellent time management skill.
  • It helps us react more thoughtfully to negative stimuli.

Health of Spirit Mind and Body Displays MindfulnessThe Center for Disease Control has reported increased environmental workplace stress. In 2013, 74% of employees reported more stress and 14% of employees indicated that they have felt like striking a co-worker. Other environmental stressors are such things as bullying and harassment.

The Workplace Bullying Institute noted that 27% of employees report abusive conduct. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission reported that 7,256 sexual harassment charges were filed in 2013. Stress affects our ability to concentrate, and increases the likelihood of developing medical and psychological disorders. Mindfulness helps control our reaction to stress.

Does mindfulness help in establishing better relationships?

Daily mindful practices can help us with conversation, play and intimacy. To be mindfully present of the person before us means to be fully aware of who that person is and what that person is saying to you. When we are mindfully present we are less likely to be defensive, less likely to think about what we are going to say next, and more likely to be attentive and truly listen.

Are there are any exercises you can do to become better at mindfulness?

You can be mindful just by sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. Sitting comfortably, allow your eyes to be either open or closed, breath in gently and draw your attention to the breath around your nostrils. Focus slightly more on the Exhale rather than the Inhale.

Maintaining mindful breathing for at least 12 minutes daily yields positive results. The more time that we spend being mindful the better. Some people aim for 20 minutes a day, and others for an hour, but we do not always have that much time available to us.

You can practice mindfulness in a variety of ways. You can be mindful while eating, walking, playing, running, talking, resting, or by taking a moment to breathe. It is best if your mindfulness practice is matched to your personality and your way of being in the world.

Mindfulness is being in the momentPeregrine Kavross a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and certified sex therapist. She is the Founder of Management Focus, a psychological practice that offers 360 support services for the busy executive and student to enhance understanding of work style and relational differences in order to strategize more effective outcomes personally and professionally.

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