Bring it OM! How Mindfulness makes us kinder in the workplace
We often hear that one of the benefits of meditation is more peace of mind, which is something we can all certainly use in our hectic, distracted and technologically dependent society. This stronger foundation of inner peace can also encourage us to open our hearts to more kindness in our daily working lives.
We can learn to judge less and simply discern more by this practice. And, there is a good reason more workplaces are introducing it – because it reduces stress levels and leads to healthier employees, less absenteeism and enhanced, more connected work relationships
Observing not controlling
Meditation calms us down, and by the actions of slowing down and being in the moment, we allow space for living more consciously as well. And, approaching life in this way means thinking about the food we eat, the clothes we buy and even how we treat those around us. Our perspective shifts as meditation can lead to more heart expansion and patience with others and us. “Mindfulness gives us a space between our emotions and our fight-flight-freeze reactions, however brief and increases our ability to respond more skilfully. This can lead to a reduction in conflicts, and ability to utilize empathy to drive stronger relationships. Upcoming mindfulness workshop creator Kate Kerr adds: "Even one deep breath – allows tension in the shoulders to release and expands our awareness of simply being in this moment right now. We shift from needing to change it to simply allowing it."
This centuries old tradition also encourages practitioners to allow thoughts to come and go – to simply observe not change them or try to control them - and this in turn allows us a chance to be calmer and more open, and, when we feel calmer we can handle the outside world – both the people and situations we encounter with less frustration and more magnanimous behaviour - including, to ourselves. In the words of on-line Mindfulness Teacher Artie Wu “…Anytime you step back, it will allow you to see the pain driving the actions of others. This then leads to more empathy. It also allows you to see the pain driving your own actions, and this can lead to self-empathy also.”
As we breathe deeply, and listen to the rise and fall of our breath, we learn to expand our empathy for others who also share the same air and walk the same earth: We often start to feel more connected to both nature and people, and even start listening more to others with less reactivity: There’s a term for considerate hearing and it has been coined ‘Radical listening’ It means allowing people to have their say, hold back from interrupting and even reflect back what they've told you so they knew you were really listening. This can have an extraordinary impact on resolving conflict situations in any workplace.
According to Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Non-Violent Communication, "Radical Listening is our ability to be present to what's really going on within - to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing at that very moment." Rosenberg points out that in employer-employee disputes, if both sides literally repeat what the other side just said before speaking themselves, conflict resolution is reached 50% faster. “
So another kind outcome from this healing ritual is simply listening more to our colleagues and family members, which in turn can create more connected relationships. We give others space to share without fixing or correcting, just simply acknowledging their stories and allowing them to unburden their thoughts.
In following a ritual of observing and allowing the mind to be, character traits such as calmness, openness and connection can only serve humanity in creating kinder environments. In fact, it seems to me that kindness, and, specifically, more caring and compassionate behavior is a natural outcome of more mindful living. Clearly, mindfulness and kindness are simply natural life partners. Bring it OM!