Mindfulness To Enhance Your Life

In the last twenty years, meditation has come down from the Himalayas into our offices and boardrooms. The practice of mindfulness—deliberate attention to the present moment—has permeated many savvy business peoples’ lives, bringing richness and meaning to an otherwise fast paced, exhausting and sometimes overwhelming rat race.

Mindfulness can be brought into your life, too, by simply learning it and practicing it in all that you do.

Empirical research has shown the daily practice of mindfulness has a multitude of benefits in reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and regulating reactive emotional responses. Imagine how this can improve your workplace with increased focus and productivity, a more harmonious office environment, reduced turnover and far better employee morale.

I began meditating in the ’60s and went to my first meditation retreat in 1974 on Maui. It was residential and we started at 5:00 a.m. and meditated all day long until 9:00 at night. We were not allowed to talk or even look in anyone’s eyes. The purpose was to stay with ourselves and observe our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in our bodies.

When I was thirty I lived in an ashram in India for two years. During that time I did several more long meditation retreats. One was a Zen retreat where we sat mindfully staring at a white wall for ten days straight!

How did that help my life?

Before those retreats and other personal and spiritual growth methods such as depth counseling and breath work, I didn’t know what I was really feeling at any given moment. When I lived in the ashram someone asked me in a therapy session, “What are you feeling right now?” I answered, “Anger?” It seemed most of the Europeans in the ashram were expressing anger in the encounter groups—maybe I was supposed to feel angry too. But I didn’t know.

I’d been emotionally shut down from the conflict and violence I experienced growing up in my family in Honolulu. The two years in India were life changing and helped me unravel the layers of armoring and emotional numbness. When I came back I was very different. . . a much more alive, responsible, and joyful woman. I made much better choices.

Now mindfulness permeates everything I do. I usually think before I speak, I assess the impact of my words and behavior on others, my compassion has grown, and my ability to focus has deepened. I am a better mother. I notice when I am getting over-amped and try to calm myself down. I listen to my body’s needs for sleep, safety, and healthy nourishment. I watch what I put into my mind and regulate the constant barrage of the media and movies about lying, cheating, seduction, racism and violence. I notice how people and the environment affect me.

Do you know what you are feeling at any given moment? Do you know your motives? Do you know when you or others are acting honorably or hiding something? Do you know when you are involved in a bad habit or addiction and how that microscopically affects you and the people around you? Can you temper your anger or your emotions when you get triggered? Are you connected to your intuition or just your logical mind? Can you make good choices to delay instant gratification and consider ahead the consequences of acting solely on your desires?

All these issues are greatly improved with the practice of mindfulness.

If you are interested in learning how mindfulness can help you or your staff, call or text Nina Cherry at 808.344.3694. I am happy to come into your workplace and teach a lunchtime or 4 hour experiential seminar on meditation and mindfulness.

Death By Sitting

Up until now I have been spending 8-12 hours most days sitting in front of my computer—a habit scientists cite as being as bad for your health as smoking! Outside of those hours I get exercise several times a week hiking, swimming and paddle boarding.

At first it was supposed that going to the gym or getting exercise three times a week would counteract the ill effects of sitting, but recent research has proved that theory wrong.

According to a Canadian study, people who sit more have a higher risk of death whether or not they exercise. Sitting promotes diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, blood clots and circulation problems.

Dr. Mercola, physician and surgeon (mercola.com), says, “. . . sitting is harmful to your health, irrespective of other lifestyle habits, including an excellent exercise program.” He sits as little as possible, and has reduced his sitting hours from 12 a day to less than one hour a day! After reading all the formidable new research, I am striving for that goal, too.

The average American sits between 8 and 15 hours a day. Did you know that 63.1% of U.S. adults were overweight or obese according to a study done in 2009?

You’ve probably heard that standing desks are the way to go—but standing still all the time isn’t much better than sitting. If you do opt for a standing desk, move your body often—shift your weight, do frequent squats and stretches.

And here is a tip for healthier more productive meetings: have them standing! Research shows that standing meetings also run faster than sitting meetings.

The best solution for the sitting conundrum is a stand-sit desk that goes up and down. Dr. Mercola says people need to stand up and sit down at least 35 times a day—repeatedly over the course of the day—not 35 times in one set. He said that regularly standing up from sitting was found to be more effective than walking! He quotes Dr. Vernikos who wrote Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, “The key to lifelong health is more than just traditional gym exercise three to five times a week. The answer is to rediscover a lifestyle of constant, natural low-intensity non-exercise movement that uses the gravity vector throughout the day.”

Take standing or walking breaks every 10-15 minutes while you are sitting at a desk, on the computer, or in front of the TV for that matter. You can use an online timer that goes off every 15 minutes.

Another idea is to sit on a yoga ball and continually make micro-movements with your hips and core. Tim Ferris, author of 4-Hour Work Week has conference rooms in his company with exercise balls for chairs. You can also improve your posture with Foundation Work (Dr. Eric Goodman) or the Grokhale Method to
reduce pain when sitting.

A few progressive offices across the country endorse exercising during work and install treadmill desks. Besides the health benefits, exercise also promotes productivity. Interior Showplace commercial office furniture in Honolulu sells both stand-sit desks and treadmill desks. Email Linda Kano at
lkano@interior-showplace.com

Instead of sitting in an office for a meeting, take your colleague on a walk. I see people walking and conversing around the decks on the upper floors of tall buildings in downtown Honolulu!

A 2011 study showed that older adults who walked just 40 minutes three times a week reversed age-related brain cell loss by 1-2 years.

A study published earlier this year Give Your Ideas Some Legs, showed that creative output increases by about 60% when someone is walking.

Anyone for a walking executive coaching session?

Resources:

Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You And What You Can Do About It, by James A. Levine

Death By Sitting: Avoid Sitting Disease Before It’s Too Late, by David Harper

Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, by Joan Vernikos