By Jerry Braza
To those of us who practice mindfulness in our daily lives, its impact is obvious. But as a teacher and organizational consultant, it has been a challenge to demonstrate how mindfulness helps to manage stress, enhance concentration and productivity, facilitate communication, and create a more joyful and peaceful work environment.
Unmanaged stress increases absenteeism and directly impacts a worker's health. Many organizations are beginning to see a direct correlation between work-related stress and employee health care costs. Living in the moment may be one of the best ways to reduce stress. Job effectiveness and productivity are enhanced when a person's concentration is improved. One oil worker in Alaska said, "When my mind is preoccupied, accidents are more likely to happen." Learning to be mindful enhances our ability to communicate more effectively. One employee of a television center whose manager practices mindfulness commented, "When I am talking with her I feel like I am the most important person in the world."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that assaults in the workplace accounted for 20 percent of occupational deaths in 1992. I often suggest to managers that if they become more mindful, peace and compassion will become part of their "management style" and have a ripple-effect on their departments, and ultimately the entire organization. In the typical fast-paced, competitive workplace, many opportunities to enjoy the little pleasures and successes of our work are missed. To take a moment to smile at the photo of a child on your desk, to walk past a window and look deeply at the sky or a flowering tree, to review a report and reflect on the dedication of the employee who wrote it. There are so many precious moments to savor in a hectic, workaday world.
If only one person in any working environment chooses to be more mindful, they can empower their colleagues and entire work group by their peaceful, healing presence.
Jerry Braza, the author of Moment by Moment: The Art and Practice of Mindfulness, is the contact person for the Sangha in Salt Lake City, Utah.