Like most adults, my life is full – both professionally (projects, meetings, deadlines) and personally (family activities, pets, hobbies). Normally I feel pretty in control, but recently I felt like I had reached a point where I found myself swirling – I was constantly switching tasks, and never really finishing anything because I was distracted by everything else I had to do. Worst of all, I wasn’t really having a positive impact in any facet of my life. I felt like I was racing through everything and accomplishing nothing. It was exhausting and miserable. I knew I needed a change.
Mindfulness – the practice of maintaining a heightened awareness of the present to increase focus – is being used more and more by people who seek deep concentration, including professional athletes, CEOs, and mathematicians. And it’s gotten a lot of traction right here at Vanguard – crew have multiple opportunities and resources to incorporate mindfulness into their lives. I started researching the options available to me – there are long-term programs, small scale overviews, a mindfulness website, and more. As I read about these programs and resources, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure if mindfulness was really for me or if the activities were worth my time. What if I went through an entire program and realized I wasn’t interested? I was already busy enough. Also, the idea of meditating at my desk in front of my co-workers seemed a little…odd.
So I decided to start small, with a Mindfulness Drop-In Session. One day a week, I could attend a 30 minute class with a trained professional and learn basic meditation techniques. I figured this would be an easy way to get started – and if I hated it, I never had to do it again. The sessions are optional, which means that I can drop in as often or as little as I want.
The first time, I admit I was a bit nervous. Was everyone else in the room an expert? Would I be lost and look foolish? Fortunately for me, that wasn’t the case. A certified meditation expert took us through some simple exercises and made the session very easy to follow. It was a relief to find out the sessions are quite casual, so I don’t have to share anything or even close my eyes if I don’t want to. It was also anonymous; there were no introductions, no goofy icebreakers, just a few encouraging words from the instructor as we practiced meditation.
Seeing a change
After attending a few sessions, I noticed some improvements. It was little things, like feeling more aware in meetings or being able to breathe comfortably when I got stressed. It was nice to notice that my shoulders weren’t up by my ears at 5pm anymore. I will admit that initially I thought it was a weird thing for an employer to offer, but now that I see how this ties in to health and wellness, it makes sense. This program isn’t for everyone, but for me, it made a difference. Best of all, I can tell the changes are noticed by those who matter most to me – my family, clients, and co-workers. After all, what good is having a fulfilling career and a wonderful family if you’re not fully there to appreciate it?
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