Mindfulness- It's Strategic!
What is Mindfulness? There has been a lot of buzz around this topic as we are in constant search for the desire to perform well and feel better. Ironically, we spend much of our lives, nearly half of our waking hours, in a state of mindlessness—functioning in autopilot. The antidote to mindlessness is in fact mindfulness—a conscious awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surrounding environment. The past decade has seen a surge of research on the many benefits of mindfulness linking its practice to a host of positive outcomes, including improved psychological health, physical well-being, interpersonal relationships, and job performance. In fact, many employers who have supported a mindfulness practice among their employees have seen a marked increase in engagement and overall job satisfaction from the reported 87% disengagement at work reported via Gallup.
Why practice Mindfulness? Among the many benefits are the neurological changes demonstrated in the brain. Cognitive awareness, which is developed through the practice of mindfulness, is linked to building meta-cognition which is the ability to observe our thinking, acting, and planning to intervene with intelligent choices; therefore, improving our quality decision making. Research has shown an increase in activation of the prefrontal cortex which houses positive emotional states, and a decrease in activation of the amygdala, lowering our fight or flight and stress responses. Lastly, regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to slow down the process known as “cortical thinning” which refers to the process in which we slowly lose brain cells as we age. Those who engage in a practice of mindfulness can benefit from lower rates of depression, stress and anxiety; higher rates of happiness and well-being; improved memory and concentration; and enhanced problem-solving skills.
How do I begin my own Mindfulness practice? Start small, with an everyday situation such as eating a meal, driving to/from work, or even brushing your teeth. No need to change anything about how you do that activity but rather what you pay attention to. Spend just a few minutes a day during the same activity to focus on what you see, hear, smell, feel about that activity. Manage your expectations and proceed without judgement. If you get distracted during those few minutes, gently bring yourself back to the focus at hand. Take time to note what you notice. Build on this by increasing the following week to a different activity or increase the time spent being mindful during it. Make the practice your own and note small successes along the way. It’s your journey, congratulate yourself that you’ve begun!
About the Author:
Lisa Pringle, M.Ed., LPCC
As an independently Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Lisa has spent 15 years of her career helping others through her practice as a therapist working with children, families, adults, and couples in an outpatient setting. She is well-versed in a variety of treatment and therapeutic modals to provide the best individualized care and solution through an eclectic approach focused on client need. Additionally, Lisa holds a certification specializing in the treatment of trauma symptoms.
Lisa has broadened her expertise over the past six years as an Executive and Business Coach with Sequent Consulting and currently with the consulting firm of Change 4 Growth where she also contributes as a Principal Consultant for Leadership Development. Lisa’s customized approach to coaching benefits from her rich and in-depth counseling background and education. She has had success guiding clients to solutions while breaking down the barriers to their success. Lisa is a proponent of the importance of identifying pain points within an organization and working with leaders and their teams toward employee engagement and satisfaction. Lisa shares her experience in advising and guiding leaders through Change 4 Growth’s flagship leader development program: Academy for Modern Professionals. Her solution-focused approach is effective in assisting leaders and associates in finding their value and potential resulting in a positive, productive work culture.
Lisa has a Master’s Degree of Education in Clinical Counseling as well as post-graduate work in solution-focused brief therapy. She is certified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy and has training in Mindfulness Meditation.