Mindfulness: take your beginner’s practice to the next level


Whether you’re an intern or a leader, a team manager or an entrepreneur, you’ve no doubt heard about the varied workplace benefits of mindfulness.

And many of you have already moved beyond a passing curiosity and incorporated the art of being mindful – paying attention, in the moment, calmly and non-judgmentally – into your daily routine. Nearly two thirds (64%) of everywomanNetwork members have practised mindfulness, and 58% already feel ready to move their practice onto the next level.


Mindfulness on the everywoman Network

36% aren’t mindful, but would like to be

58% have tried mindfulness occasionally, but would like to improve

6% practise regularly, but want to know more about it

Source: An introduction to mindfulness webinar: January 2016


If you’ve been trying out beginner’s practices like the raisin technique, adult colouring or journaling (find more starter suggestions in the workbook An introduction to mindfulness), and feel ready to take the next step, try incorporating some new techniques aimed at the mindful intermediate.


Create a mindfulness trigger

Quietening your mind for 30 minutes of dedicated practice in your safe, personal space is one thing; bringing that quality of calm focus to your working life is another challenge altogether. Once your beginner’s meditation has reached a place you’re happy with, create a command – this can be a mantra you chant in your mind, or a physical act, like squeezing together your thumb and middle fingertip, or wearing a wristband you ‘ping’ intermittently – that you can use throughout the day as a reminder to tune into your mindfulness. If you’re a visual person, you could even create a list of trigger words, benefits of mindfulness, or commands such as the one above/opposite, and pin where you can see at-a-glance when you need to return to a more mindful state.

“Mindfulness triggers can be very powerful ‘wake up calls’,” writes Wildmind Buddhist Meditation. “We use mindfulness triggers as opportunities to wake up from automatic pilot and to be more fully alive in the present moment. We let go of thoughts of past and future, and in doing so we let go of some of the emotional turmoil that those thoughts engender.”


Know your ‘drainers and sustainers’

Chances are, if you’ve made a start on learning to be mindful, you will have tuned in to what it feels like to be ‘in the moment’ for a short period of time. But in order to progress your mindful practice, it’s important to try and stay in touch with that feeling, and notice what is knocking you off course. everywomanClub member Claire Irvin, in her book ‘Mindfulness For Women’, written with mindfulness expert Vidyamala Burch, explains how noticing what energises you and what is depleting your energy can ensure you prioritise meaningful, fulfilling interactions and activities wherever possible. Claire and Vidyamala advise you to take a piece of paper and list all the things that sustain you and give you energy (Going to the gym? Listening to music? Skydiving?) before writing a list of things that drain you. Are you spending more time doing things that drain you, or sustain you? Is there a way to drop your draining activities altogether, or limit their impact in some way?


Make digital detoxification a staple of your practice

Your beginner’s practice may have incorporated some ‘conscious uncoupling’ from technology. As you reap the rewards of smartphone separation, look for ways you can formulise your detox both in and outside work. Are there certain workplace periods – a particular day a week when the boss is in a long meetings or a time when you really need to focus – when you can commit to closing down emails and sending calls to voicemail? Take any precautions necessary to ensure you feel able to stick out the detox period without consequences, e.g. diarising your detoxes, setting your ‘out of office’, alerting your team to what you’re doing and even encouraging them to take up the same, leaving your phone at home when going on a weekend break.


Take a mindful walk

Beginner’s meditation usually involves sitting or lying still, which isn’t always possible in the workplace. A 10-minute mindful walk, on the other hand, is much simpler to incorporate into your day, whether it’s your stroll from station to office, popping out for a lunchtime sandwich or a quick once round the block on your afternoon break. Take a look at this quick guide by mindful.org to maintaining a mindful gaze, posture, hand position and pace.


Slow down, pay attention to details

Beginner’s meditation will have taught you the art of being in the moment, of noticing how you feel in response to various stimuli. As you improve, see if you can go even deeper into the details and sensations. “Imagine something as routine as the way you hoist the phone to your ear when it rings,” writes Programme Director of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tara Healey in Mindful magazine. “By really examining this action — seemingly so inconsequential, so unworthy of examination — you feel like it’s something you’re doing for the very first time. You may detect anxiety traveling down your arm and tension as you pick up the phone.”

“It’s about bringing choice, attention, and awareness back into things that you’ve allowed to become automatic. By opening up to the tiniest habit, you make it possible to crack open the larger habits, which seem more resistant to change… You can actually transform that feeling of, ‘Oh man, here comes John, my supervisor — I bet he wants me to change my work, again’ into ‘Here comes John again. How can I see and hear him, without judgment, as though we were interacting for the very first time?’”


Mindful acts of kindness

You’ve probably heard of the random acts of kindness movement. By participating in kind acts, it has been scientifically proven, you will feel happier, have better relationships and experience a deeper connection to the rest of the world as well as peer acceptance.

“Kindness and compassion should not be relegated to random feelings,” writers Huffington Post blogger and scientist Dr. Hyder Zahed. “They should be cultivated as a mindful, ongoing conscious practice. We have to teach ourselves how to be kind even if we are not feeling particularly compassionate – even if we are too overwhelmed to feel kind. Kindness should be, for lack of a better word, a discipline.”

Commit to looking for ways to extend compassion to colleagues, particularly those with whom there is friction or ill-feeling on either side. The small act of sharing a warm smile or asking them how they’re feeling about their current tasks or projects can do wonders for workplace relationships.


Start a meditation group at work

“While many of us enjoy meditating alone, meditating with others can enhance… spiritual support, help you stay committed to your meditation practice; learn[ing] from each other [and] camaraderie,” says the Mindfulness Meditation institute.

Starting a group at work is a great way to spread the message and introduce others to the benefits of mindfulness. You could kick off by making a start on the everywoman workbook An introduction to mindfulness together, trying out the exercises suggested. Invite advanced practitioners along to share their insights and hold brainstorms on ways you can incorporate the mindful techniques learned into your workplace culture.


More wellbeing on the everywomanNetwork

Quiz: How mindful are you?

Using stress to your advantage: 4 strategies you can implement today

Stressed? Why daydreaming can help



Not a member yet?

Meet your goals and develop your skills on the everywomanNetwork. Join 1000s of other members today.


Not a member? If you would like to hear about our latest content, news and updates, sign up to our monthly update newsletter.