Your Secret Key to Thrive at Work: Mindfulness
Dr. Stephanie Palacios shares tips on incorporating mindfulness at work and her experience in designing and giving the inaugural SIF Mindfulness six-week series program to nonprofit leaders.
After eleven years in the field of clinical psychology, eight years of which included training, researching, and teaching Mindfulness across a multitude of settings (medical, academic, government, private and nonprofit sectors) and in multiple languages, I have found that one of the most important aspects to helping mindfulness resonate for people, is making it accessible and actionable.
Many people hear the word ‘mindfulness,’ and immediately think of silently sitting cross legged for 45 minutes. This is one of the first myths I bust in my mindfulness sessions. Yes, mindfulness can include meditation, and sitting meditation can be a powerful practice for some. But there is a whole world of mindfulness to explore, in addition to, and beyond, sitting meditation. Consider mindful walking, cooking, eating, communication, gratitude, values alignment, self-compassion, and tuning into our mind-body connection. This was a beautiful revelation for me years ago, and in my programs and workshops I get to witness the aha moment when others realize this too.
Mindfulness provides a different way to move through our day by decentering from entangling thoughts and emotions, interrupting automatic behaviors, and shifting from ‘doing’ into ‘being’ mode with a stance of non-judgment, intention, and curiosity. It helps challenge toxic self-talk and builds a pathway to resilience.
In the workplace, mindfulness helps us to improve our attention and concentration, access peak performance, navigate stress with more ease, and experience greater job and life satisfaction.
Mindfulness in Action: Present Moment Awareness
There is an aspect of mindfulness known as present-moment awareness, which can be accessed when we observe our surroundings through each of the five senses, our emotions, minds, and bodies. In this practice, we do not pursue what arises, we simply notice with a stance of curiosity and nonjudgment. We notice any tendency or desire to explain the experience through a narrative (i.e., we hear something and may want to explain why it happened and what it means). Then, we intentionally shift back to the moment-by-moment experience.
When I guided participants of the SIF Mindfulness cohort through guided meditation practices to strengthen this mindfulness skill in our first session, the group discussion that followed was full of enthusiasm. Participants shared that they enjoyed shifting their attention to different aspects of their experience and allow whatever arose to pass through. Multiple participants mentioned that tuning into both internal and external sounds was “incredibly powerful.” One participant expressed gratitude for the instruction that it is normal for the mind to wander, and to bring their attention back nonjudgmentally.
Participants were encouraged to find a moment to shift into the present moment for home practice. The following week, we heard beautiful stories of how participants found their own moment in a busy day to be present. One participant shared that she took in her surroundings through the five senses during a walk outside with a friend and even invited her friend to join! The participant shared that the walk was even more enjoyable thereafter, and she felt a sense of renewal when she returned to work.
In our post-program survey, one participant said, “this program has reconnected me to mindfulness and reminded how helpful it can be every day.”
This is what it’s all about. Making it your own, so that it can become part of your success strategy.
Mindfulness in Action: Values Alignment
One of our sessions in the SIF Mindfulness program focused on values alignment. While mindfulness practices such as present moment awareness help us to be more intentional throughout our day, values alignment helps us to identify what matters most to us.
Once we know our core values, we can take small steps to better align our actions to what will help us live a meaningful life, whatever that means for each of us.
There are several benefits to values alignment, including increased resilience in the face of difficulty, more perseverance in daily tasks, longer life expectancy, and greater life satisfaction. A lack of values alignment is often found at the root of chronic stress, lack of motivation, and dissatisfaction at work.
In the fourth session of the program, I guided participants to identify their top three core values at work. We reflected on deep questions such as, ‘Why are you in nonprofit? Why is this important to you?’ and ‘What legacy do you hope to help build, and leave behind?’ In other words, what they needed in their work experience to feel fulfilled.
I then took participants one step further, into thoughtful action planning. Participants listed out all the tasks they do in a typical workday and identified what aspects of their daily routine nourish or deplete their work values. They ended this session with their own personalized action plans to better align with their values that could be put into use immediately.
Participants were encouraged to activate one step of their action plan for home practice. When we met the week after, there was an outpouring of excitement as several participants shared the innovative ways they had given themselves permission to align with their values.
One participant who leads a nonprofit focused on children, shared that his role had shifted away from his love of play to executive tasks. He decided to allow himself 15 minutes to play with the children instead of hurrying back to his office. He shared with our group, beaming, and smiling from ear to ear, that he felt a renewed sense of motivation, joy, and energy, and realized that by making time to align with his value of play, he accomplished more tasks at the office faster.
One participant shared in the post-program survey that the program “was a great opportunity to just slow down and take time to do something for myself that would also translate to being my best self in the workplace.”
That’s what I love about this work – the aha moments that come when we engage in self-reflection, and then pair it with action.
About Dr. Stephanie Palacios
Dr. Stephanie Palacios is a mental wellness expert, speaker, trainer, coach, and consultant. She is the Founder of Stephanie Palacios Consulting LLC, a boutique consulting firm that guides organizations, teams, groups, and individuals to transform their mental wellness with a specialized focus in stress management, mindfulness training, values alignment, and resilience building. She is an international speaker and has worked with companies across the U.S., Mexico, Australia, UK, Canada, and Brazil and across medical, government, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors.
She is a mindfulness teacher with Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Mindfulness & Compassion, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. She is also the cofounder of Bonda, a tech startup focused on improving employee team cohesion across remote and hybrid work models.
Interested in working with Dr. Palacios or bringing her to your organization?
Email her at email@example.com.
Visit her website: www.stephaniepalaciosconsulting.com.
Find her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/stephanie-palacios-consulting.