When we explore something with interest, we often discover things that we were unaware of – this may be physical sensations, certain emotions or motivations, or we might even notice things about other people. Mindfulness practitioner, Anna Black explains how you can keep curious in the workplace…
Children are inherently curious. As we grow older, things we encounter become more familiar and we often take what we experience at face value, ignoring all the layers underneath. If we have been in a particular role at work for a while, or with the same company, we get used to a certain way of doing things. We put up with systems and models that can be clunky because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’. When someone new comes along, they tend to be more curious and question the status quo, or perhaps suggest a different way of doing something. Is there any reason we can’t bring that kind of curiosity to our existing job now?
Today, be curious about everything.
Assume no foreknowledge and explore your world of work. Ask questions without expecting a particular answer. Talk to people whom you would not normally converse. Pay attention to the environment, how your colleagues interact with another and the outside world.
Be interested in your own experience
Notice what arises, pay attention when there are moments of resistance – a sense of tightness or tension – sometimes this shows up in particular areas of the body. Where do you hold your tension? Are there particular people or tasks to which your body responds to negatively?
What do you like?
Pay attention to those moments when there is a softening, an opening, and a moving towards something. When do you notice this? Are there particular activities, food, beverages, or people that cause this? Is it in response to something that you do?
Pay attention to specific emails, phone calls or conversations
Notice if at any point your body gives you a physical reaction and notice what just happened before. Be interested in any associated thoughts that arose just before, during or after this reaction. Do you notice any particular emotions?
Pay attention to the feedback that your inner self is giving you via the body
Notice whether there is a contradiction between your thoughts and physical sensations or emotions in your body. Sometimes we find ourselves agreeing to do something or assuring someone we are ‘fine’ and yet at the same time there is a clenching in the gut or a tightening across the shoulders that suggests things are anything but fine.
About the author
Anna Black began practising mindfulness as a way of managing her own general and work-related stress. She has taught mindfulness in the workplace and has been teaching stress reduction through mindfulness since 2006.