A Bastion of Tranquility and Calmness?

It seems that the Hopewell campus, along with the entire business world, is abuzz with the talk of mindfulness — the practice of focusing one’s attention completely and non-judgmentally on the present moment. Yes, surprisingly, here in Hopewell, amidst the pressures of tight deadlines and managing budgets, a bastion of tranquility and calmness can be found every week in Assembly A.  One might ask why would a bunch of financial services professionals squander their already limited time to sit amid the aroma of incense and calming music simply to focus on the present moment.  Well, after attending a session and basking in the afterglow of the experience one might wonder why everyone isn’t practicing mindfulness.

Just Another New Year’s Resolution?

Nonetheless, some of us may still be reticent to take on yet another well-intended practice. Especially since many of us may already be struggling with our New Year’s resolutions. The good news is that unlike a diet or exercise regiment, mindfulness is shockingly simple.  If you attend a mindfulness session, surely you will learn a variety of techniques and strategies from one of our two exceptional and professional mindfulness coaches Corrine Zupko and Stephanie D’Angelo.  However, at a fundamental level mindfulness is simply the act of placing one’s attention on the present moment.  We do this by employing one of several techniques such as focusing our attention on our breath. Watching our breath helps anchor us to the only moment that ever truly maters — the current moment.

Simply Sitting Still Is Not So Simple.

Some of you may be skeptical at the characterization of this exercise as simple.  Whether sitting at a traffic light or in line at the supermarket all of us know how easily our minds can be distracted. Especially, in the technologically advanced and fast-paced world we live in.  I would imagine that many of us have experienced the sensation of being so occupied in our thoughts that we aren’t even aware of the task in front of us.  So how could we be expected to sit in a room in the middle of the workday and remain focused on our breath?  Inevitably, the thoughts of project deadlines and after-work activities are bound to find their way into our consciousness. The good news is that this perceived sign of failure is not only expected but paradoxically an indication of our success.  The mind, by its very nature can waver from thoughts of some past event to some potential future experience. It is in that moment, when we recognize that our minds have wondered, that we are truly being present; and so we easily and without judgment bring our focus back to our breath.

Who Has Time To Do Nothing?

However, who has time to practice mindfulness?  A common yet erroneous assertion that we use when faced with the daunting task of sitting in room and doing nothing.  Ironically, practicing mindfulness takes no time at all because it can only be done right now and in this moment. Unquestionably, attending a mindfulness session each week is extremely beneficial but every moment provides an opportunity for mindfulness practice.  Try to be in the now and perceive all your senses when performing such ordinary tasks as washing your hands, putting on your shoes, or taking a walk to the cafeteria.  As you read this article, focus on the letters and words.  See the empty spaces between the words and stay present to the moment.  Being grounded in this moment can provide a pathway to peace and serenity.

Real and Practical Benefits of Mindfulness

However, if feeling calm and at peaceful are not enough of incentive then a quick Google search, will return a plethora articles and scientific studies touting the very real and practical benefits of practicing mindfulness.  The empirical evidence is overwhelming and the benefits are wide-ranging forcing even the most pragmatic among us to see past what some may view as a new age fad.  Studies are showing that the practice of mindfulness can reduce stress, increase cognitive ability, and improve working memory.  These benefits along with countless others are contributing towards both the physical and mental well-being of individuals.

Let’s Transform The World

However, the benefits of mindfulness are far more reaching then just at an individual level. Research has shown that those who practice mindfulness are more likely to display important altruistic qualities such as empathy, compassion, and selflessness. Characteristics such as these can become contagious and spread throughout our community and even beyond our campus.  Certainly, with the current state of our world we could all benefit from a little more humanity. So, I encourage you to come out and attend one of our weekly sessions. You may not walk away an enlightened guru but I promise you, you will feel less stressed and a lot more peaceful. Hey, and you never know, through the practice of mindfulness, together, we could create a kinder and more compassionate campus which in turn has the potential to transform the world.

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