The concept of Mindfulness is becoming mainstream, even leading organizations like Apple and Google have jumped on the bandwagon, encouraging employees to engage in this practice with research, confirming this practice not only improves creativity, focus and production but also reduces fear, anxiety, judgmental attitudes, and BURNOUT.

Burnout is a rampant affliction, especially across various helping professions!

I have had personal experience with the practice of mindfulness in recent years and I have seen profound results. Despite the research on mindfulness, many people aren’t engaging in it because it is viewed as a difficult practice (although it’s easy), because mindfulness can be intimidating and is widely misunderstood. Many claim they can’t practice mindfulness because they can’t stop their wandering mind, and yet that’s the very PURPOSE of mindfulness. I think this intimidation comes from the assumption that mindfulness looks like this…

canva - silhouette of man at daytime

It’s a misconception that mindfulness requires meditation!

While mindfulness can be a form of meditation, practicing mindfulness doesn’t REQUIRE meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), says mindfulness is “paying attention in the present moment non judgmentally.” He also says “mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.  It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

We can engage in mindfulness in any setting, at any time; we can practice mindful eating, mindful walking, and mindful conversation. The problem is that most of us move through life, seemingly on autopilot, unaware of what is actually happening in the MOMENT, reflecting too heavily on the past, and feeling the pain that existed in the past over and over again. It’s not just the past we need to be brought back from, it’s also the future – our habit of planning our next move, our next word.

Essentially, our awareness is rarely in the moment. This obsession with past and future can lead to burnout, or a lack of joy at the very least. But if we can train our brains to spend time in the present moment, stress will be reduced, joy will naturally increase, and our hearts and minds will feel calmer.

Mindfulness as a valuable therapeutic tool is catching on in the world of research, just check out this study: “…the results of this pilot study suggest that meditation may be efficacious in reducing drinking and decreasing severity of relapse triggers in recovering alcoholics…”

In my opinion, front-line workers owe it to those they serve to engage in mindfulness practice. Where appropriate, front-line workers ought to become so skilled at mindfulness that they are able to teach it to those they serve and utilize mindfulness as a therapeutic tool.  This study suggests that “…Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy led to improved immediate outcomes in terms of anxiety which were specific to the bipolar group.”

It stands to reason that if we cultivate healthy front-line workers we will directly improve therapeutic outcomes.

Want to build some skills in mindfulness? 

Mindful Reach is an online educational platform that “connects practices of mindfulness, positive psychology and coaching with sustainable behavioural change…evidence-based protocol through mindful training and active living strategies, {they} strive to provide participants with tools and techniques that will enhance the clarity of thinking, attentional effectiveness and deep-rooted balance in demanding circumstances.” Mindful Reach has a new course offering, a certificate in Mindful Child and Youth Care, with curriculum contributions from yours truly ♥.

I am hopeful that in the coming years there will be more and more acceptance and trends toward this life-changing practice across various populations, especially front-line fields.

md108_youth

 

References

S, L., Hommel, & Bernhard. (2012, March 30). Meditate to Create: The Impact of Focused-Attention and Open-Monitoring Training on Convergent and Divergent Thinking. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00116/full

Karwowski, M. (1970, January 01). Culture and Psychometric Studies of Creativity. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/978-1-137-46344-9_8

Booth, R. (2017, October 22). Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn: ‘People are losing their minds. That is what we need to wake up to’. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/22/mindfulness-jon-kabat-zinn-depression-trump-grenfell

Mind full of ideas: A meta-analysis of the mindfulness–creativity link. (2015, October 01). Retrieved January 23, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886915006133#!

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in bipolar disorder: Preliminary evaluation of immediate effects on between-episode functioning. (2007, September 19). Retrieved January 23, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032707003060?via=ihub

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