30-day Mindfulness Program a Success at Urban
Are you a mindful person? Do you take time out of a busy day to relax and center yourself? There are many definitions of “mindfulness” but at the end of the day it refers to training your attention—being in the present moment and sustaining concentration. By focusing your attention, research shows you can experience less stress and increased well-being.
But adding another item to the to do list—even if it is meditating—can feel like piling on one more task. Enter MindWell Canada’s 30-Day Mindfullness Challenge workshop, an online training program that provides simple techniques that can help you be more mindful in just five to ten minutes a day.
How it works
Team members at Urban were recently given the opportunity to participate in one of MindWell’s 30-day challenges. Those who opted in teamed up with a buddy (for many this was a friend, or offsite spouse or partner, buddies are allowed at no extra cost), and throughout month they received videos, podcasts, narrated infographics, texts and more—all with the goal of learning about mindfulness in small, manageable time chunks. The curriculum was available at anytime and on any device (phone, ipad, computer).
Ann Gallery, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of MindWell says that the challenge teaches people to live in the moment, which reduces stress, increases engagement, creativity and collaboration. “It’s an absolute fit for engineers – or most people for that matter!”
Better Not More
Although rooted in traditional practices, one of the unique things about this program is that it strips the mindfulness practice down to its essentials. Instead of sitting for half hour or longer meditations, participants learn a variety of ways to take mindfulness breaks that can be as quick as two minutes and that an be done from anywhere (yes, even from your messy desk!).
Mindfulness reduces the common tendency to categorize all experience instantly as good and bad, and instead encourages those who practice to experience and accept things as they actually are – in order to know it more clearly.
Stephanie McNeely, a Transportation Planning Engineer with Urban who took the challenge says the whole experience left her feeling less stressed, more present and more focused.
“I pursued this as a way to find a bit more calm in the day. I wanted to learn how to not get stressed out about the small things. It has really allowed me to stop the chatter in my brain and come back and refocus.”
Stephanie says she’d recommend the program to any of her co-workers, many of whom are working incredibly hard but not necessarily taking time for themselves.
“I’ve been telling a lot of coworkers about it and I point out that it’s a very low investment—literally five minutes a day—and that the benefits are huge. In this business we are always trying to balance delivering on time and on budget and when things are not happening quickly, it can cause stress as opposed to being seen as an opportunity to take a step back and manage things differently.”
She says that one of the things that surprised her was learning how many thoughts we tend to have in a minute.
“We have something like 40 to 50 thoughts a minute—basically one or two thoughts a second. You can choose to let them go or to hang on to them. It takes up a lot of brain energy and attention to hold on to thoughts we can’t control.”
“I clearly notice how it isn’t productive to be rushing around now,” says Stephanie. “It’s better to take the time regroup and figure out a plan of action, whereas I think we are often conditioned to think that multitasking is such an efficient way to go. I feel like sending my sister an invitation for her next birthday. I really think this could help anyone.”
The challenge is now over and the results are in. “The participants from Urban and their buddies completed 100 hours of mindful meditation in just 30 days and reported it improved their engagement and focus at work, improved their ability to handle stress and improved health and wellbeing,” says Ann.
Now that this first challenge is complete, MindWell is conducting a debrief session with employees who were on board. “We’re looking forward to collecting feedback and learning how else MindWell can support those at Urban.”