Mindfulness was developed by Jon Kabatt Zin in the 1970s and this approach helps with self-regulating emotional experiences through allowing you to be ‘present’ by noticing your emotional experiences and fluctuations by observing them in a non- judgemental way.

Mindfulness is helpful in the workplace as it can help you to tune in and out of your emotions and to adjust the volume as if it were a radio station .The self -regulation of emotions allows you to successfully navigate through business challenges rather than becoming stagnant when facing problems and adversity .Mindfulness improves resilience as it increases your repetoire of skills to manage work related stress, anxiety and the demands placed upon you as a Manager, entrepreneur, business owner or employee.

Mindfulness is a ‘way of being’ and useful exercises include the body scan, mindful breathing exercises, mindfulness of thoughts and compassionate meditation. Mindfulness includes developing skills in focusing your attention on your breath, your body, the environment or activities such as eating and walking.

Mindfulness of emotions helps you to stand back from the emotion, understand it, not to fear it or struggle against it, and it can have the added benefit of reducing the distress whilst helping you to remain engaged in your role and responsibilities at work rather than being distracted. Mindfulness improves concentration, decision making, productivity and is a protective factor against stress and anxiety .

Mindfulness exercises can be practized daily for at least 30-40 minutes in order to experience optimal benefits. However you can start off with 5 to 10 minutes and maybe try eating or walking in a mindful way.

Body Scan Exercise

During the body scan exercise if your mind wanders off into thinking simply notice it and calmly guide your focus back to your body without judgement. Don’t be frustrated if you have to repeat this as everyone’s mind wanders. It is important to accept this fact and notice this whilst moving on to the next stage of the exercise.

You may want to lie on the floor on a mat making sure you are warm and comfortable, covering yourself with a blanket and resting your head on a cushion or pillow. You can also do this sitting upright. Ensure that  you will not be disturbed for the period of the body scan exercise.

1. Check in and monitor your body just as it is right now noticing the sensations that are present, feeling the contact the body is making with the floor, chair or blanket.

2. Begin to scan your body, sweeping your awareness through different parts of the body, without judging what you are aware of but as best you can bringing attention to your experience moment to moment.

3. Starting with the crown of the head, noticing any sensations here, tingling, numbness, tightness or relaxation. Then including the head, feeling the weight of the head as it rests on the cushion, then including in awareness the forehead, noticing whether or not you can feel the pulse in the forehead, whether there is tightness or ease. Then including the eyes, the nose, cheeks, mouth and chin and finally the ears including any sounds that you notice coming to the ears. Being aware moment by moment of the changing pattern of sensations, feelings of warmth, coolness and ease. If you notice your mind wandering then this is perfectly natural. Noticing your mind has wandered is a moment of awareness, then just gently guide your mind back to the part of the body you are focusing on.

4. Letting go of the head and face, moving your awareness into the neck and shoulders, noticing the strong muscles in this part of the body, having awareness of any tension in the neck and throat, perhaps becoming aware of the sensation of air in the throat.

5. Moving your awareness now to the shoulders, the places where there is contact between the shoulders and the floor, stretching your awareness into the arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers, aware of what is here in each moment.

6. Shifting the focus now to the chest area, noticing the subtle rise and fall of the chest with the in and out breath, turning your awareness to the rib cage, front and back of the ribs, sides of the ribs, the upper back resting on the floor. Noticing any aches and pains here and seeing if you can bring a sense of gentleness and kindness to these areas.

7. Turning your awareness now to the abdomen and stomach, the place where we feel our “gut feelings” noticing your attitude to this part of your body, seeing if you can allow it to be as it is, taking a relaxed and accepting approach to this part of the body. Then stretching your awareness to the lower back, the lumber spine, feeling the gentle pressure as the back meets the floor before moving your awareness to the pelvis area, the hip bones, and sitting bones, genitals and groin, noticing any sensations or lack of sensations that are here, perhaps being aware of the breath in this part of the body. Bringing a kindly attention here.

8. Now letting go of the torso as the centre of your awareness and moving your attention into the thighs of both legs, feeling the weight of the legs, gently noticing what other sensations there are here, tuning into the skin, bone and muscle of the legs here. If your mind has wandered into thinking, planning, worrying, day dreaming then just gently guide it back to this part of the body.

9. Now turn your attention gently towards the knees, notice if there is any discomfort here, and if there is none then notice what is present already here.

10. Stretching your attention into the calves of both legs, noticing how your muscles feel here, feeling this part of the legs from the inside out, the flesh and bone of the lower legs. And again checking in where your attention is from time to time and noticing the quality of your attention seeing if it is possible to bring a gentleness into your awareness, not forcing yourself, bringing a lightness of touch to your attention in this part of the body.

11. Finally moving your attention into both feet, the heels of the feet, the instep, the balls of the feet , the tops of the feet, skin and bone and finally the toes, seeing if it is possible to distinguish one toe from another. Noticing whether there is tension here, sensations, numbness, tingling and allowing any tension to be released as you bring your attention to it.

12. Now taking two deep breaths widen your focus, filling the whole body with awareness, noticing whatever is present, sweeping the body with your awareness from top to bottom, experiencing the body from the inside out. Noticing whether there is any non acceptance towards any parts of the body as you fill the body with a gentle awareness and seeing if you can have compassion for any judgments or for any tensions or pain that might be present as and when you notice it. Rest in awareness of this amazing body that you have, compassion for its pains and appreciation for its capacities and the wonder of it.

Martina Witter

Accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist I Health and Wellbeing Consultant I Resilience Trainer

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