Source | Linkedin.com | Vandana Manwani, Experienced Management Professional/ Coach
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of active and open attention towards the present moment.When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings and you accept them as they are without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to present experiences without chasing the past or pursuing the future. While mindfulness is part of the eastern philosophy but it is never been part of mainstream work place.
Why you need mindfulness at work?
• Helps in regulation of emotions
• Helps provide resilience against negative experiences
• Promotes empathy and a sense of compassion thus helping in improving relationships
• Helps in complex thinking, focus and creativity
• Prevents burnout
• It is “Must Have” and not just “Nice to Have” – is being recognized in global workplaces
What does Neuroscience say?
In 2011, Harvard Medical School conducted a study on participants who completed an eight-week mindfulness program.It was discovered that mindfulness significantly increases grey matter of the brain. In 2014-2015, a team of scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology were able to pool data from more than 20 studies. The data showed that changes were identified in at least eight different regions of the brain
Some of the brain regions impacted are:
• The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation. It is also the receptor of stress hormone called cortisol. People who are highly stressed have damaged hippocampus which is reduced in size.
• Amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
• In posterior cingulate cortex, which is involved in mind wandering, and self-relevance. It functions to evaluate or judge how one relates to one’s experience: how much they are caught up in it.
• In anterior cingulate cortex,which is deep inside the forehead, behind the brain’s frontal lobe. This part of the brain is associated with self-regulation, suppresses inappropriate knee-jerk responses, and switches strategies flexibly – has evaluative and cognitive function
• The Temporoparietal junction, is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion. It is helps in making moral decisions
• An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.
Mindfulness Research in Corporate America:
Aetna is a health care company, based out of Hartford, Connecticut, United States, which launched stress reduction and mindfulness program for its employees in 2010. More than 13,000 employees (out of total of 50,000) participated and they found out,on an average, stress levels dropped by 28%, reported sleep quality improved by 20%, and pain dropped by 19%.Mindfulness participants gained 62 minutes of productivity a week. They also found that health care costs reduced of employees. The outcomes of the program were so impressive that Aetna decided to sell it to its customer. (Source: HBR Ascend)