Monday, June 11, 2007

Mindfulness at Work

Cultivating an intentional awareness when you are at work can be hard. We may not really want to be at work, so we fantasize of being elsewhere. We may be planning mode where our thoughts are hours or days ahead of us, thinking of how we will approach an issue or person.

One of the techniques I learned as a naturalist also works well for creating mindfulness at work. It's very simple. You close your eyes and listen for ten seconds or so. This immediately grounds you in the present, and makes you aware of any recurring thoughts.

As a naturalist with a group of kids, I could take them to a point on the trail, and ask them to close their eyes and listen. After 10 seconds or so, I asked them to open their eyes and describe what they heard. They found this very exciting, because an entire new world opens up when you are more aware.

This morning, I used this technique in the backcountry behind our house and heard:

myself swallow;
my dog pant;
a woodpecker nearby;
a chickadee;
the wind in the oak trees; and
an airplane overhead.

And then later in my home office, I heard:

the refrigerator hum in the next room;
my dog pant under the desk;
my computer fan; and
the creaks of the house.

You might try it today and let me know what happens. It almost immediately makes me more mindful.