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A pilot Study on Mindfulness delivered in the workplace

19/09/17
by Claire Grose

As you read this, slowly move your toes. Feel your feet touching the inside of your shoes, and the sensation of your heels and the pads of your toes on the floor. Really think about what your feet feel like right now, their weight on the floor.

If you’ve never heard of mindfulness meditation, well done, you’ve just done a few moments of it!!

Mindfulness is about being more aware of yourself, others and the world around you, in each moment. Studies have shown that by being more mindful we can increase our levels of emotional intelligence, improve our relationships and reduce our levels of stress. What’s not to like?

 

As part of a pilot study I delivered a course to the staff at IMA on mindfulness. This course was designed as a general introduction to mindfulness.

The practice of Mindfulness encourages you to intentionally focusing on the present moment without judgment. This can have far reaching benefits not only in the workplace but on a personal level.

MRI scans show that after practicing mindfulness, the brain’s “fight or flight” centre, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress.

As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.

 

In other words, our more primal responses to stress seem to be superseded by more thoughtful ones.

 

The course delivered at IMA involved 8 weeks of 1 hour sessions held at the office for anyone happy to attend. We explored different topics each week; focusing attention, how to be more aware of how our minds work on auto-pilot and how to respond rather than react to situations. Homework tasks were set in-between sessions for extra practice and reflection. Every week we practiced a short meditation together either, sitting, standing or walking and explored how this made us feel.

The sessions were well attended and enjoyed by all the staff members and staff report that they have continued to use some of the practices.


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