Due to the multitude of stressors surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic, a lot of professionals have turned to mindfulness as a means to reduce anxiety and maintain productivity.
Luxor is very lucky to have on staff an expert in mindfulness meditation: Associate ERP Analyst Sophia Rosa.
Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, Sophia was leading mindfulness exercises in our office. Now that we’re remote, Sophia moved her weekly session to a virtual meeting which we find very helpful.
Thinking that you, too, might benefit from incorporating mindfulness at work, we sat down (virtually, of course) with Sophia so she could share her thoughts on how people working from home can harness the power of mindfulness to help stay focused and engaged.
Practicing Mindfulness at Work
Luxor Associate ERP Analyst Sophia Rosa
LUXOR: Thank you for sharing your time with us, Sophia! To start, in your own words, can you tell us what mindfulness is?
SR: When you pause, check in with yourself, and observe, you practice mindfulness. When you listen to the sound of your breath, or picture your heart beating, or notice how your clothes feel on your skin, you are practicing mindfulness. When you ask yourself to simply step into this exact present moment and notice what’s happening both internally and externally, you practice mindfulness.
LUXOR: How can practicing mindfulness meditation at work positively impact your day?
SR: Practicing mindfulness can offer you new perspective. It can calm the central nervous system and move you into empowered thinking versus panic thinking. It can offer you the space to choose to respond, rather than react, to current circumstances. Other proven outcomes include more patience, improved focus and productivity, an increase in compassion, and lower stress and anxiety. It can diminish the uncomfortable physical states that accompany those negative feelings.
LUXOR: Please briefly describe the Luxor mindfulness sessions you were leading before the COVID-19 epidemic forced us to start working from home.
SR: While in the office, our group met in the Sandbox where we could all find a comfortable spot, like the hanging Papasan chair, the couches, the tables and chairs, etc. that best fit our physical needs that day. Practices would consist of multiple different approaches. In most of the sessions, I guide the class by offering vocal cues and invitations. Other sessions include listening or watching pre-recorded tracks. Almost all sessions include an audio component played through the speakers; maybe rainfall, or a babbling brook, or white noise. I’ve periodically played the Tibetan singing bowl that was gifted to me by the regular practitioners almost a year ago. We practice for about 15 minutes, and then the opportunity for discussion is available for the rest of the time we have the room booked.
LUXOR: You’ve continued leading the sessions remotely. How has that changed the nature of the classes? What challenges has that presented? What advantages?
SR: The remote sessions are quite new, and so far seem to have positive effect. Each person is in their own comfortable environment, and when participants are muted and video is off, we aren’t viewable or audible to the other practitioners. This can often add a sense of social comfort and open up the opportunity for a deeper practice. You’re not worried about someone else hearing you breathing deeply, or noticing if you nod off, or be disturbed by shifting your weight or moving your position. You can lay on the floor, or wear your pajamas, or sit in your own hammock. Though we are physically separate, we are all choosing to connect with each other at the same time, fostering the feeling of community and sharing in the knowledge that we all have a shared goal at Luxor, and we are still together no matter where we physically reside. Also, parents are home with kids and other loved ones. There’s the possibility of sharing the practice with those that would not otherwise practice together. I’m hopeful about reaching Luxor families while continuing to connect with Luxor employees.
During the virtual mindfulness sessions, Rosa provides a relaxing kaleidoscope image to help keep participants centered.
LUXOR: Everyone is dealing with a really stressful and scary situation right now. How can practicing mindfulness potentially help?
SR: Pausing and observing during your experience can allow us all to recognize that all we truly have is the present. The past is simply remembered, and the future is only imagined. Right now is LIFE. Right now belongs to you, and is the most real experience you can possibly have. And most often, the ‘right now’ is perfect. Especially when you step away from all the demands you place on yourself or feel pressure to perform and simply observe. It can help us “do the next right thing” for our wellness, success, and collective focus.
LUXOR: Finally, how could someone who’s reading this start practicing mindfulness? What resources would you recommend?
SR: Try this: Take a moment to sit comfortably and settle into your physical self. Bring your attention to what it feels like to breathe. Listen to it. Observe it, don’t change it. Soften your gaze or even close your eyes. “Watch” your breath and offer gratitude for the fact that your body breathes whether you tell it to or not. Expand your awareness to the sounds around you. What do you hear? Now choose something you hear…and actually listen to it. Recognize that this moment belongs to only you. Thank yourself for taking a break from the norm, and simply BEING.
That’s your intro to mindfulness. You did it!
If you’d like to learn more, here are a few resources I can recommend:
- Mindfulness for Stress Reduction, Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Calm Classroom, Jai and Joy Luster
- Mindful Customer Service, Global Engagement Solutions
- Insight Timer
LUXOR: This is some extremely helpful information that you’ve provided about mindfulness in the workplace, Sophia. Is there anything you’d like to add?
SR: Our mindfulness practice at Luxor focuses on self-awareness, self-management, and centering / emotional balancing activities. We emphasize the concepts of Respond vs. React and Respect for Perspectives. All practices are centered around improving workplace experience, and self-betterment at work. Taking the time to collectively pause, gain perspective, and return to our day’s purpose enhances our already wonderful and inclusive workplace culture.