My Personal Mindfulness Practice Spills Over

This past year, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend several conferences, training sessions, and even an UNconference. Professional and personal development opportunities are very important for my wellness and self-care. Professionally, as an academic advisor, I traveled to a regional conference in Ohio and a national conference in Arizona to speak on the topic of mindfulness and specifically how I incorporate mindfulness exercises into advising sessions. (See my article on Advising Mindfully). I have been practicing mindfulness for years, and slowly my personal practice has spilled over into my professional life.

Best of Region Award 2018

Mindfulness is the ability to focus and become aware of what is happening both inside and outside of my body. It is a skill that can be strengthened to improve my ability to pay attention. It involves noticing when and where my mind goes, then gently bringing my focus back to the present moment. The ability to notice when my mind wanders then intentionally returning my attention to the present moment is a workout for my mind. Over time, practicing mindfulness exercises such as focusing on my breath or the ticking of the clock has increased my ability to be present or mindful. According to research by Matt Killingsworth (2010), humans are more happy when they are being mindful than when they are daydreaming or ruminating. I want to be as happy as possible so practicing mindfulness is a no-brainer.

Working full-time as an academic advisor at a public university and finishing my Ed.D. in Leadership Studies provides many opportunities to incorporate mindfulness exercises into my work and school life. Each time I practice a short 60-second exercise with an advisee, I also experience the positive benefits of mindfulness such as reduced stress, increased awareness, and boosted happiness.

Over the years, my interest in helping colleagues and students learn about mindfulness has become a passion. You don’t have to be a supervisor or manager to make positive changes within the workplace. In fact, many great organizational changes have occurred from initiatives started by those from within their company. I took baby steps, and started small, by asking my supervisor if I could lead a mindfulness exercise at the beginning of an office meeting. In my advising appointments, I asked my advisees if they would like to try a 60-second mindfulness exercise, for example coloring and listening to the ticking of the clock. These initial steps were well received, which fueled my desire to move ahead sharing mindfulness at work.

What I did next was created mindfulness curriculum for a class of first-year students. With continued success and openness, I created a professional development mindfulness program for fellow advisors. The classes and training sessions allowed folks to learn about the science behind mindfulness and participate in several types of meditation exercises. In the midst of all this, I also decided to conduct my first research study, which I am in the process of finishing. My research focus is on a mindfulness app and if it can effectively help advisors increase awareness and lower their stress. The preliminary findings of my year-long study suggest that the app was successful. More to come on that later.

This passion to share mindfulness with others continues to open doors to many conferences and teaching venues around the country. My mindfulness practice keeps spreading into every area of my professional world. No matter what field you work in, there are ways to incorporate mindfulness moments into the day. It takes intentional effort and consistency to develop a mindfulness practice. It only takes a little more energy to share the practice with others. It may seem impossible and feel like you are all alone, but you are not.

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