A Guide to Mindfulness: Realising your Potential in Times of Redundancy
by Mercedes Marcovecchi
Going through redundancy is a process of grief. It takes time to understand what is happening and to organise a new routine. Gaining insight into our thoughts and emotions, and what resources we can make use of can take some time. It may also be hard at the beginning. Mindfulness can help develop this skill to make us more resilient.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient practice that has its origins in Buddhism and Hinduism. It means paying attention to what is happening in the present moment to our mind and body nonjudgmentally. It involves observing and understanding our thoughts and emotions. We do this without judging them as good or bad. Mindfulness has become popular in Western Psychology through the work of Jon Zabat Zinn. He was a molecular biologist who introduced mindfulness in the treatment of chronic pain in the 1970s. Since then, several treatments in mindfulness were developed to treat patients suffering from depression and anxiety. Moreover, mindfulness is also a way of living that can used outside therapy.
Mindfulness can be used to:
- Be more aware of your thoughts, feelings and emotions
- Be more kind towards yourself
- Reduce stress and anxiety and increase calm
- Increase your skills to deal with difficult situations
It has also been described as a way to take charge of the direction our lives have taken.
How can you benefit from mindfulness after redundancy?
Job loss is probably one of the hardest experiences. It can lead to feelings of grief and less value. Sometimes it can be helpful to listen to what is going on in our minds. Our thoughts are the way we see and deal with the reality, but not the reality itself.
Mindfulness aims to reduce stress, control anxiety, and rumination. It is a training practice that can be used to enrich our present experience.
Thoughts and emotions
Cultivating self-awareness of our thoughts and emotions at the present moment helps us identify those thoughts that can be detrimental. Mindfulness lies on the assumption that what is happening is happening. This can be a way of strengthening our resources to deal with our daily experiences. Acceptance should not be confused with resignation. It is about learning how to grow from each experience.
Mindfulness teaches to us not regret the past or situations that already took place but relating to those circumstances in different ways. Gaining a better insight helps choose between a variety of actions to deal with external circumstances in more skilful ways and as a result, enhance our confidence in ourselves and realising our potential.
Cultivating self-awareness can help identify those thoughts and emotions detrimental to our self-esteem. Some people tend to feel responsible for being redundant. This can bring on guilt, insecurity and a sense of bad job performance. Reality shows that redundancy is highly connected to external circumstances and not to the person. Practice closing your eyes, and focus on what thoughts and emotions are going through your mind right now. Which of these thoughts are detrimental to progression? Mindfulness acts as protection from self-destruction.
Think about the behaviours that can make you respond in a more skilful way. There is no a right answer for this question as each person is different. For some may be increasing our social networks, eating healthy, doing exercise, going for a walk, or attending social meetings. Mindfulness can also be an opportunity to explore more that brings us joy and pleasure in our daily lives.
How can I start practising mindfulness? Three Mindfulness Exercises
- Mindful Breathing: Choose a comfortable posture. You can either be seating down or standing. Bring your attention to your breathing, to the inhale and the exhale. Notice your emotions and thoughts without judging them and let them go with your breathing. The same can apply to any sounds. Breathing is a way of capturing our moments and help us gain relaxation.
- Start by focusing on your breathing, how it the breath comes into and leaves your body. Closing your eyes sometimes helps gain concentration. It is important to register your bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings, even if they are unwanted. Anybody can meditate. Meditation is not about taking the mind to a particular state. It is about creating consciousness and awareness of what you are feeling right now.
- Body Scan. Move your attention to different parts of the body. Start from your head and move to your toe. Practising yoga can also be a way of gaining body awareness and relaxation.
A first step to start cultivating mindfulness is to trust yourself. Trust your perspective, and the decisions you make. Trust your career path, your capacity to overcome any situation, even your job loss. The feeling of trust cultivates appreciation of ourselves. We don’t miss what is valuable in our lives!
Practice making a list of goals you have accomplished so far. Think how hard you have worked to achieve them. This exercise will help you recognise your value and all the effort made as well as planning those things to achieve next.
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