Does Mindfulness build Teamwork?

by Dr. Jain Wells

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Mindfulness at work

Managing a team of people in a corporate environment towards a common goal and sustaining quality output is an ongoing challenge. Employee work stress and the pressures of deadlines, in addition to personality conflicts and personal issues, detract from group synergy.

Imagine introducing the team building concepts of mindfulness into your office environment. What does that actually mean? Mindfulness is a state of mind. It involves drawing the attention of each individual within the group to observe the nature of their own mind, which when unchecked, is literally a ‘thinking machine’. The mind’s internal dialogue runs rampant unless you consciously bring awareness to it. In a distracted state you lose focus, miss important details and communicate less effectively with work colleagues.

However, when you begin to observe both your internal thoughts and feelings, a level of detachment comes into play with greater awareness, allowing a new order of organization to emerge. Similarly, a mind that is unfocused and unaware is likely to identify more personally with certain experiences, and be more reactive than conscious. Therefore, when a group engages in mindfulness and meditation techniques together, they learn to help and support each other. Mindfulness, when practiced in a group, feeds off itself and enhances accountability. Mindfulness practice also helps an individual to understand that they are not their mind or their emotions – and the detachment occurs such that they are able to observe and think about what they are doing and how they are responding with greater awareness in the workplace environment.

Working with your mind and coming into command of it is like taking the dog for a walk. You rein it in and train it to abide by the rules that you create for it… hopefully with love and respect. If you know what you are doing, you don’t let it rule over you and run you all over the place.

Mindfulness for stress

Drawing attention to the mind through the act of observation is the first step. That means cultivating present moment awareness – to be present with one’s own sensory faculties in the ‘now’. When practiced consistently a natural detachment begins to take place while identification with the mind begins to loosen. Add the act of ‘non-judgement’ to the process and a new sense of objectivity also begins to develop – and a conscientious stance of non-reactivity. This means that the team building develops along with having a greater understanding of their own ego reactions. That’s what stress in the workplace produces – reactivity and the impetus to take things personally, instead of acting professionally.

The same holds true for observing one’s outer world. The simple act of stopping to relax the mind and assess an event or situation before taking action creates profound results. When people on a team are at odds with each other, competition develops instead of team building and community building. Mindfulness is contagious. Once an individual begins to entertain the potential benefits and practice of corporate mindfulness and meditation techniques in his or her life, a new doorway into the psyche is opened that helps that individual in the office and at home. Just think of how much information a person on the job can miss if they are in a distracted state – due to stress, an emotional issue, or lack of sleep etc. Meditation also helps to develop mindfulness as it affects one’s energy and brainwave frequency, inducing deep states of calm and relaxation. Given the choice, employees would rather be calm and relaxed at work and more productive than feeling stress and disliking their workplace environment. That’s a no-brainer.

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