What is “mindfulness”and how does it relate to me and my job? Is this yet another gimmick or fadcatching attention in the IT industry? It sounds too “woo woo”—it must be for those yogi people out there, not for an IT organization. Do these thoughts sound familiar to you?

Well, let’s drop our resistance to changing our mindset and take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for a count of three, and let it out. Do this three times and think to yourself, what kind of day do I want to have today? How do I want to feel from when I get up in the morning to the end of the day? If the answer is AMAZING, youthful, radiant, loved, appreciated, or any other positive synonym like these, then yes mindfulness is for YOU. It is a skill, and you CAN learn it!

What is Mindfulness?

Let’s start by breaking down what mindfulness really is. It may be a fancy word, but it signifies a very simple principle. If you break the word apart, you get Mind + Fullness = Mindfulness. It just means being fully present in the moment and focusing your mind on one thing (object/thought/action) for a period of time, however small it may be.

Mediation and Mindfulness

In meditation, one of the first things you may do is to practice taking long deep breaths in and out while focusing your mind on your breathing. As thoughts come in, you gently acknowledge and release them, bringing your focus back on your breathing. After a few moments like this, you start noticing which part of your body you feel with your breath, if your breathing is constricted or free, fast or slow, and how slowing your breath makes your body feel. Pretty soon, if you’ve managed to get better at gently releasing all thoughts that don’t focus on your breathing, you start transcending into a meditative “quiet” state where nothing else is in focus. At that moment it would be really hard to think of your task list for the day or feel annoyed thinking of something that may have bothered you.

How Mindfulness Can Help You at Work

When you are walking to your office in the morning, what usually goes on in your mind? Are you already thinking of all the things you have to do that day? Are you still upset at something that happened yesterday or on your commute? Are your thoughts scattered in the past or the future,instead of focused on the present moment? When you get to your desk, do you immediately turn on the computer and begin your day already in this scattered state of mind? If you do, then you’re with the majority of people in this world who begin and end each day that way. No judgements here, just reality. That’s where the practice of being mindful and the power of your mind come in.

Imagine thestartof your workday when you apply the mindfulness “hat” to it. Say before you even get out of your car, you take a few deep breaths in and out and you set your intention for the day at work. You think ofamoment or experiencein your life you’re absolutely grateful for and focus on it. As you walk in, you continue to focus your thoughts on that moment of gratitude and observe how it makes you feel inside just by reliving it in your mind. You may even start feeling elated, happy, and free inside, just by focusing your mind and your thoughts only on this one moment where you felt so much gratitude in life. As your mind focuses on that moment, your body may start changing too. Observe that change. Did you go from feeling tense to relaxed and flexible or fluid? Notice your jaw muscles. Did they change from feeling tight/hard to lose or open? Take a moment to observe how you’re feeling and how your body is feeling. Keep that momentum going as you walk to your desk.

As you sit down and settle in, before you turn on your computer and begin your day, take a moment to pause. You are already in an uplifted state of mind and feeling positive, just by having focused your thoughts on a moment in time you are truly grateful for and reliving that moment. Take a moment to set your intention again for the day, to stay in that state of gratitude for the rest of your day and in everything that comes your way. Then, start your day by turning on your computer.

There are hundreds of ways to practice mindfulness at your home, office, or anywhere really. It doesn’t have to be something you do out loud, which makes it easy to incorporate mindfulness in your thinking as you go about your day. Given the daily stress and fatigue we all face here at NIH and especially CIT, incorporating simple relaxation techniques and positive mind-body exercises can really help you stay positive, energized, and build strong relationships amongst your colleagues.

For more, see my 10 Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness at Work.

This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.