Imagine a work environment where stress doesn’t exist. Your phone never rings when you’re working on deadline. There’s plenty of time to get everything done with total ease. No one in the office ever disagrees with anyone.
While integrating mindfulness into the workday won’t transform your work space into this imagined setting where stress doesn’t exist, it offers real relief from the negative impacts that stress can cause.
In a session titled “Mindfulness in the Workplace,” PhD-licensed psychologist Robin Boudette will share practical techniques and strategies for handling stress and moving through the work day with a greater sense of ease on Monday, June 16, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at 168 Tamarack Circle, Skillman. For more information, visit www.mindfulnessinprinceton.com and Robin Boudette, Ph.D.: www.robinboudettephd.com or call 609-577-3380.
The techniques are simple and can be easily integrated into the work day, says Boudette, a Hopewell resident. For instance, you can use everyday sounds like a ringing phone or an E-mail alert as a reminder to be present; you can use an app like the Headspace Meditation App or the Mindfulness App designed for centering your mind (reviews at mindful.org/mindful-magazine/mindfulness-apps); or you can take five minutes from your lunch break to sit quietly and de-stress.
“Mindfulness offers the possibility of pressing the refresh button and looking at workplace situations with new eyes. It can help us find creative solutions to problems,” says Boudette.
Her June workshop is based on the meditation practice and concepts introduced to the U.S. by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder in 1996 of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, an outgrowth of a center formed in 1979, the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Kabat-Zinn has described mindfulness as an awareness of the present moment experience with a non-judgmental stance. Practitioners say this allows for a broader field of awareness, a perceptual shift, where one can fully experience his passing thoughts and emotions without having his sense of well-being overturned by them.
When Kabat-Zinn introduced mindfulness to the American public in the 1970s, his training was geared for those suffering from a physical illness. Over time the training began appealing to individuals seeking relief from acute or general stress and soon expanded to companies, the military, police departments, governments, and schools and colleges.
Today Apple, Google, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Deutsche Bank, and Aetna are among the companies that offer mindfulness programs to their employees. Huffington Post publisher Arianna Huffington included Kabat-Zinn as a speaker at her New York City Thrive event this April and recommended mindfulness in her book “Thrive.”
Company managers say that mindfulness programs have the potential to reduce employee sick time, improve employee motivation, and cut back on staff turnover. Those who practice mindfulness say it helps them think more clearly, be more productive, and overall, experience more job satisfaction.
“With the unlimited demands of daily living, we are often out of balance. These imbalances lead to physical symptoms, emotional problems and spiritual distress, but within each one of us, there exists an innate capacity for healing,” says Boudette.
Boudette also teaches at Princeton University and coordinates the mind-body health team for University Health Services. She also teaches at the Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and will be leading a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course through Hunterdon Healthcare in September.
Growing up in Pequannock, Boudette was encouraged by her parents to be curious, engage in life, and follow her interests. Her mother, a teacher, and her father, a chemist, have followed their own advice. Today her father is pursuing his passion for world travel, preparing for his seventh trip to Africa, and her mother teaches yoga in Union and Somerset counties.
Boudette became interested in mindfulness as a teenager. “I read ‘Be Here Now’ by Ram Dass. I followed the suggestions from the book and started practicing yoga and meditation,” she said. Her interest expanded to include teaching others, and in the course of her career, she has completed teacher training programs at Integral Yoga in Princeton, Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga & Ayurveda in Colorado, and Spirit Rock in California.
Since 2002, she has taught at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Massachusetts and at Tibet House in New York City and has pursued her interests in Thailand, Burma, India, Nepal, and Tibet.
Her main meditation teachers are rooted in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, and she recently completed the Integrated Study and Practice Program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts. She studied Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at Kabat-Zinn’s Center for Mindfulness and participates in ongoing programs there.
“Mindfulness is to the brain what exercise is to the body. The more you practice mindfulness, the stronger your ability is to think and act in a more conscious way,” Boudette says.