Interview: 5 Things You Should Know About Awareness and Work

Original author: Chris Bailey
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According to the renowned expert on meditation, Sharon Salzberg, meditation, at first glance, seems to be a kind of "superstition", but it can help you increase productivity at work. Awareness and meditation will make you more productive, increasing concentration and helping control impulses, and will not take much time . This works when you do more than 5 minutes a day and weave this practice into your routine.

This dialogue took place with Sharon Salzberg, the author of eight best-selling New York Times and, even more remarkable, a meditation trainer, who is credited with spreading Buddhism in the West in the 60s and 70s. I think you will like it.

Sharon was late. The traffic around stood, and she was sitting in the back seat of a taxi, worrying that the driver would not have time to change lanes. Then he turned to her and uttered a phrase that she still remembers: "Madame, the number of cars on the road is not your fault and not mine."

The taxi driver retained a rare self-awareness and, even more unusual, he transferred it to his work. Sharon believes that we can cultivate a similar attitude in ourselves through mindfulness meditation .

I recently asked Sharon about meditation and work. Below are the 5 most effective lessons we talked about.
But first, it’s worth dispelling a couple of myths about what meditation is.

What is meditation?

Sharon explains that contrary to popular belief, meditation has nothing to do with “superstitions and something paranormal.”

Studying meditation is beneficial: it can undermine your preconceptions and give you a better understanding of the essence of awareness. According to Sharon, one of the reasons that leads people to meditation is their desire to see what scientists are so fussing about - because a growing number of studies surround meditation.

One of the myths , for example, reads: while meditating, you should try to stop all your thoughts. It is not true. Sharon explains: "The purpose of meditation is not to stop thinking ... but to change your own attitude to thoughts, stop constantly getting lost in them and fight with them."

Meditation simply implies a deep understanding of the current moment, a constant return of attention to what you decided to focus on it (for example, to breathing). In fact, this does not contradict the result-oriented working atmosphere and can even increase your productivity.

1. Meditation increases concentration at work

It did not take a year of crazy experiments to understand: concentration is the key to productivity. The better you can concentrate, the more you will be able to do.

Awareness and meditation can come to the rescue in this matter. Sharon told me concentration is “one of the fundamental skills of meditation . As lifting weights trains the arms, so meditation enhances concentration .

Sharon says that meditating, “you learn to collect unbridled energy and distribute it, so you become more focused and get more power at your disposal that you can spend purposefully”. Meditation really requires serious concentration - focusing on the current moment, you actually train your ability to hold attention, improving it.

One of the main reasons that meditation helps you focus is that it creates a less receptive mood. Reflections on the past, for example, usually distract us from our current work and decrease productivity.

Another factor here is the negative internal dialogue: looping on ruthless self-criticism is the path to distraction. But Sharon notes that through meditation,“We gracefully throw everything out of our heads and start from scratch, and this is one of the options for work. As a result, you stop wandering around among such cliches: I'm so bad. I'm a loser. I am so terrible. It will never change. ”

Attention to your way of thinking will allow you to free yourself from such an accusatory internal dialogue, making us not only more productive in our work, but also happier.

2. Meditation Helps Hold Back Impulsivity

According to Sharon, meditation improves the ability to purposeful activity, which is directly related to the management of impulses.

Self-attention is the ability to be aware of instantaneous feelings, which, in turn, relieves the need to control these feelings. There is even evidence that mindfulness helps to increase the areas of the brain responsible for controlling impulses.

One 2012 study really found that “a brief period of mindfulness meditation can serve as a quick and effective strategy to promote self-control in the face of a lack of resources . Meditation can recharge your self-monitoring battery.

According to Sharon“Studies demonstrate: meditation has a strong effect on executive function” and “improving executive function is a sign of a decrease in impulsivity in people .

Impulses can distract from work , so we want to reduce their number. Whether you just want your boss not to catch you in activities unrelated to your work, or really want to increase your efficiency, meditation and awareness can help you.

What seems interesting to me: we not only have scientific evidence of these facts, but we are beginning to understand why this happens. A 2013 study in Psychological Science explains that “attention to the current moment and an inestimable perception of what is happening, which are cultivated by the training of awareness”, will certainly increase our ability to notice small changes in our own emotions. This prepares us to manage them and reduce the number of impulses.

3. Meditation does not require much time

Some people are afraid that after the start of classes, the time spent on meditation will increase, making them even less productive than before. Despite the fact that even hard practice will undoubtedly save time, you can reduce it by limiting the duration of classes. The limit will be even tougher if you try to combine meditation with an intensive workflow.

Sharon remembered the dialogue that took place some time ago, in which her friend mentioned his desire to do meditation.

Sharon asked, “How much time can you really devote to this?”

“10 minutes a day for a month,” he replied.

“That will be enough,” Sharon replied.

A little meditation is better than its complete absence, so you should start with the exercise duration convenient for you - even if it will be 5, 10, or 20 minutes a day.

The idea that even short episodes of mindfulness meditation can be beneficial is supported by a study .

4. Meditation can be woven into routine matters.

You can safely include meditation on your day by linking episodes of awareness to ordinary activities.

Sharon began to clearly understand this idea when her Tibetan teacher, along with officially recognized periods of meditation, encouraged short moments of awareness that occurred during the day. They called it "short moments many times."
For her book, True Happiness at Work, Sharon asked the question about short moments many times: “How will it look if you are at work?”

The answer is: it will seem as if you are doing something ordinary, just adding awareness to it. Sharon recommends choosing an action that is already in progress and using it as a signal to spend a few seconds on the exercise.

For example, when the phone rings, you should skip 3 signals before answering. Use the free time to engage your consciousness at the moment. She notes that the same principle works with e-mail: “when writing a letter, do not click on“ send ”immediately. Take a few breaths and breaths, re-read it and then decide if you want to send it .

5. Meditation works best if you practice more than 5 minutes a day.

Sharon meditates daily for 30 or 40 minutes, but, of course, this is not suitable for everyone. She recommends making her goal a minimum of 20 minutes of lessons per day, although she admits that the path to such an indicator may take time. This is especially true if you have a responsible job.

“Why did I call it 20 minutes a day? The reason is that many people sitting at home for the first 5 or so minutes will be completely dominated by thoughts , ”she says. It may take time to “settle down” in the present moment, therefore meditation for 5 (at least) minutes is optimal.

But if that seems impossible, don't give up. "Daily" in this case is more important than quantity. Sharon remarks: if you have only 5 minutes to meditate on some day, you need to use them: "Do not think that this is pointless . "

PS We recommend one more article on the topic - are you taking the necessary break - or are you just lazy?

The author of the translation is Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of MBA Consult .

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