Entries in psychologist (1)


Silicon Valley's Mental Health: Mindfulness Helps Many Professionals Find Their Grounding, One Breath at a Time

This New York Times article about bringing mindfulness to the tech industry and its professionals is fascinating. Mindfulness is in the news, as it has been for several years, but now its application to those in the tech industry is the focus. This week's Time Magazine cover story on mindfulness spotlights some of the ways mindfulness is being introduced to companies like Google here in Mountain View.

If you have a moment to spare--literally a moment--getting centered on your breath in a mindful way can change the outcome of your day, the pace of your internal non-stop chatter, your outlook on life. It is an extremely simple concept, but one that takes practice and represents an evolving journey. How can it be that a bit of attention on your breath can be so powerful?

Part of the answer lies in the act itself. When you practice bringing attention to your breath, you are working on several skills at once. First and foremost, you are slowing down and taking a moment to be with yourself. Considering how busy and demanding life is these days, that is a unique experience in itself. Second, you are training your mind to attend to one thing. When you think about it, how often are we doing that these days, in the age of multi-tasking? How many times throughout the day do you find yourself attending to multiple things at one time--work, email, texts, IM's, phone calls? It is antithetical it is to our modern life to slow down and pay attention to one thing. In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, they refer to this as acting One Mindfully.

Inherent in the process of attending to the breath, you are also learning how to disregard or pay less attention to the constant commentary going on in your mind. Sometimes that chatter is worth listening to and sometimes it isn't. In the act of becoming more mindful, you can begin to choose when and when not to pay attention to the chatter and commentary your mind produces. This can then open you up to a number of life enhancing experiences, both internally and externally.

A concern I hear often goes something like this, "I have so much to do, if I stop multi-tasking and slow down, my productivity will suffer. I just can't do that." This point of view is understandable. However, what most people who engage in mindfulness training report is that they actually become more efficient. What fades away over time is the mindless head spinning, the over concern for the pursuit of perfection, the stifling self-judgment.

And imagine, all that just by paying attention to the breath.