Mindful Work | David Gelles

Summary of: Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out
By: David Gelles


In ‘Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out’, David Gelles explores how mindfulness – a simple form of meditation – is helping employees better cope with stress and improve their performance in the workplace. Companies have recognized that incorporating mindfulness allows their employees to step back, observe problems objectively, and find solutions efficiently. As a result, a new generation of mindful work culture is emerging, and companies like General Mills are also providing mindfulness training for their staff. In this summary, we will explore the benefits of mindfulness, such as self-awareness, focus, and compassion, and how it can positively impact not only one’s professional life but also one’s personal well-being.

Mindful at Work

Mindfulness can help make dealing with issues at work easier. Being mindful allows you to step back from a problem and observe it objectively, making it easier to find solutions. Mindfulness has many benefits such as training focus, increasing clarity and self-awareness. Companies are realizing its benefits, with the mindful work culture gaining momentum. General Mills was a pioneer in providing mindfulness training during work hours, and now all of its buildings have meditation rooms.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been a difficult concept to sell, especially before the inception of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Since fMRI, mindfulness advocates have quantitatively demonstrated the immense benefits of mindfulness, including its positive effects on changing the brain. By altering our thought processes, mindfulness increases brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, improves cortical thickness, and helps us regulate our emotions and memory. Additionally, mindfulness helps individuals react less in stressful situations by gradually turning off the amygdala – a commonplace oversensitive reaction system. Mindfulness proves to be a game-changer in emotion regulation, memory function, and stress reduction.

Mindfulness Goes Mainstream

In the late 1970s, Jon Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), an independent and secular program to train attention and focus on physical sensations. The goal is to become fully present, observe one’s reactions objectively, and learn that pain and stress don’t last forever. MBSR emphasizes the impermanence of things, and by observing reactions, one can alleviate stress and pain. Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR made mindfulness and meditation popular, offering an effective solution to the universal problem of stress.

The Power of Focused Mind

Mindfulness can help in focusing on one task at a time, instead of multitasking which can cause perpetual distractions. Multitasking is not an effective productivity booster, and it increases the chances of the mind to wander. Contrarily, focusing on one task at a time can help individuals carry out things in a logical order. Developing mindfulness enhances the ability to direct attention, thereby reducing easy distractions. Observing our thoughts and emotions can help in bringing focus and being in the moment.

The Power of Mindfulness and Compassion

Mindfulness and compassion go hand in hand, creating a sense of self-compassion and connectedness to others. By observing emotions in a non-judgmental way and accepting them as natural, one can experience a sense of relief and open up to joy and empathy. This compassion then radiates outward, strengthening a sense of common humanity and social connectedness. This sense of connectedness can be further developed with a special meditation called metta, or loving kindness, which involves wishing happiness, protection, and freedom from harm upon oneself and others. Contrary to some misconceptions, compassion makes one stronger by increasing awareness of others’ feelings and preventing them from experiencing pain. Ultimately, mindfulness and compassion can make us more tolerant, loving, and kind.

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