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Mindful : August 2013
Tara Healey of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care suggests four steps to bring mindfulness to your workplace. Everyone will benefit—you, your colleagues, and your organization. Office politics. Dictatorial bosses. Coworkers’ emotions bouncing up and down and sideways. Hi-tech tools that keep cha nging and updating. An uncertain economy and a volatile job ma rket. Escalating levels of expectation. Loss of direction. Too much to do. Too little time. Not enough sleep. Whether you work in a traditional or progressive environment, on your own or in a sea of cubicles, work life is full of challenges. Most of us are beholden to the income we receive from our jobs, and beyond that, we get up and go to work because we have a real desire to contribute to the greater good. Turning away from work is not an option for most of us, so we buck up and throw ourselves into the challenges of the workplace. Some of us are doing well, successful and satisfied. But too many of us are not happy at work. We’re stressed out and quite possibly confused. We may appear to be effective, but gnaw ing issues like those above can make work secretly (or not so secretly) a drag. That’s not great for us and it’s not great for the people we’re working with. So where do we begin if we want to improve our work life for ourselves and those around us? I suggest starting with the mind. Ask yourself: what is the quality of my mind at work? What’s happening in my mind as the hours at work go by day in and day out? Is my mind working at its utmost? The mind contains untold resources and possibili- ties—for creativity, kindness, compassion, insight, and wisdom. It’s a storehouse of tremendous energy and drive. And yet it can also be a natter- ing annoyance, an untamed animal, or a millstone that drags us down. Sometimes we would like to just shut it off so we can get some work done or have a moment’s peace. Yet our mind is the one thing we can’t shut off. So why not make the most of it instead? Why not put it to good use? Through mindful- ness, we can train our minds to work better. By training us to pay atten- tion moment by moment to where we a re and what we’re doing, mindfulness ca n help us choose how we will behave, nudging (or jolting) us out of autopilot mode. Here a re a few suggestions for how to bring mindfulness into our work- place. This won’t just give us some relief from st ress; it can actually change, even t ra ns- form, how we work. → Tara Healey is the program director for Mindfulness-Based Learning at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. August 2013 mindful 71 Illustrations by Tang Yau Hoong