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Mindfulness in the workplace and home

ABC Radio National Life Matters explored Mindfulness in the workplace and home with guests -:

Dr Nicholas Van Dam is a senior Lecturer in psychological sciences at the University of Melbourne and is critical of the lack of evidence based research about whether mindfulness actually works.

Dr Craig Hassed is an Associate Professor of medicine at the Monash University Medical school, and coordinator of mindfulness programs at Monash.

Dr Nicholas Van Dam and some colleagues wrote a recent paper claiming: "nobody really knows what mindfulness is".

His concerns are generally that mindfulness can mean different things to different people.
The term is used quite broadly and is blurred in definition -:

"can mean anything from what you do on a phone app to what you do in a yoga class to what you do at a retreat at a centre or what you do at a monastery"

Dr Nicholas Van Dam: Some of the claims made by websites of the benefits of mindfulness implying the same effects you would get from doing an 8 week course or a 3 month retreat can be observed in a practise of minutes a day.

He continues to state that there is a reasonable amount of evidence it is good for people - not a whole lot of evidence it is good for the workplace.
There is evidence in terms of mental health and wellbeing generally.

Mindfulness Benefits

Acclaimed author of "The Miracle of Mindfulness" Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in the book Fear - Essential Wisdom for getting through the storm

"Everybody has the seed of mindfulness inside.
Everyone is capable of breathing in mindfully, even very young people."

pg. 77 Fear - Essential Wisdom for getting through the storm

"That your mind is not totally, deeply, peaceful in the present moment. You get accustomed to looking at things in a very superficial way and being carried away by strong perceptions and negative emotions that result. This leads to behaving wrongly and making life miserable."

pg. 79 Fear - Essential Wisdom for getting through the storm

"You embrace your beloved with mindfulness, and he or she will bloom like a flower."

pg. 111 Fear - Essential Wisdom for getting through the storm

ABC: Manfulness has become big business in some areas as employers try to boost productivity and cut sick days.

Dr Craig Hassed an advocate for mindfulness argues the flexibility of "mindfulness" can be a strength of the practise.

There are different ways of delivering mindfulness - meditation - yoga - with the variability of how delivered being a strength.

Characterising mindfulness

Characterising mindfulness (uses elephant example in audio) - not that they are wrong it is just that it is one particular aspect of it, it is not the whole thing.

Mindfulness can be-:

  • Attentional practise
  • Emotional regulation
  • Awareness practise
  • Compassion practise

People want to practise what will be useful to them.

Father with Family

Dr Craig Hassed as an advocate for Smiling Mind -:

"Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgement."

He uses an example of "punctuate the day with a whole bunch of commas"
eg take a minute when you arrive home (turn off the car) to become present so as not to take baggage home to the kids

Since the cultivation of mindfulness involves being present and the removal of judgement - look for a teacher with those very qualities.

Take a Gold Coast Yoga class and take note of the atmosphere in the room.

Yoga involves being present, breathing and adopting mindfulness techniques. You can adopt those techniques in every day life.

Just like there is a world of difference between an experienced exercise trainer - so too with other professions that crossover with mindfulness practise look for an experienced practitioner you feel comfortable with.


It is not uncommon for a practised meditator to take a 10 day retreat or Vipassana (to see things as they really are).

Naturopaths and Health practitioners also incorporate mindfulness into their treatments Couples Counselling Sunshine Coast and Couples Retreats incorporate mindfulness practises.

Mindfulness in the Workplace

Jiselle of Innercalm Counselling offers Mindfulness in the Workplace -:

"Teaching mindfulness to our leaders lays the foundation for better decision making and communication. It opens up the possibility of moving beyond familiar or habitual ways of seeing the world to new ways of listening, leading, responding and innovating."

The ABC program raises some interesting issues with mindfulness - the closer you get to true practitioners the clearer the teaching - mindfulness is its own advocate.

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