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Mindfulness Exercises - The Career Psychologist
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Mindfulness Exercises - The Career Psychologist


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This is a short introduction to mindfulness, and how it can help people thinking of a career change. It includes some ideas for practicing mindfulness as well as information about where to find out …

This is a short introduction to mindfulness, and how it can help people thinking of a career change. It includes some ideas for practicing mindfulness as well as information about where to find out more.

Published in: Career

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  • Good, simple, good exercises
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  • Any questions about this exercise pack please contact Rob at
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    • 1. Mindfulness and Willingness Ho w m indfulne ss te chniq ue s and Acce ptance and Co m m itm e nt The rapy (ACT) can he lp with yo ur care e r chang e
    • 2. Why Mindfulness is important Making the decision to change career boils down to a series of moment to moment decisions. Do I sit and work on my plan, or not? Do I make a list of possible employers or put it off til the weekend? In time, by becoming more aware of ourselves – not just our thoughts but our emotions and sensations – we can respond to the world in a more open, real way. Instead of allowing our mind to interpret everything, we can make a more conscious decision of how to act. The choice whether to do something important only occurs in the present moment. Noticing yourself choosing between doing what’s important to you or spending time struggling with your thoughts, which you cannot control, is the first step to a valued life. Therefore, being mindful of the present moment allows us to ask one important question: Given what’s important to me, what amI willing to do and experience to move me in that direction, inthis moment? We do a lot of thinking during a career change. But our experience is that thoughts seem to go round in cycles, and often distract us from our values. Whilst we’re ‘up in our heads’ distracted by thoughts, we are not making progress. We believe that the key is not to try to change ourthoughts, which is often impossible, but to change our relationship to our thoughts, so that we can make progress towards what we value in life.
    • 3. What Mindfulness isn’t… The biggest misconception about mindfulness is that it is a tool to relax. It isn’t. If it is relaxing, then fine, but if it isn’t, that’s fine too. The goal of mindfulness is presence. What effect does this have on our lives? Are we better for this? Do we make better decisions? Do we have more fun this way? If you think about presence in its other meaning, it means literally being present in a room. Maybe this is what we mean when we say someone ‘has presence’. Mindfulness means experiencing the world as it is , deliberately, and non judgmentally. After all, how often are we truly present in what we do? Too often, we’re living up in our heads, not really noticing (or appreciating) what’s going on around us.
    • 4. What is Mindfulness? The exercises in the following pages are designed to give you this practice. See if you’d be willing to practice them each day, to try to put yourself into contact with what you are really feeling, noticing, thinking and observing in this moment. If we listen to our thoughts all the time, then we run the risk of missing out on what is happening right now, in this present moment. Staying mindful is a way of counterbalancing our tendency to lack presence. It is also a way of creating some space between our ‘selves’ and our thoughts. And in that space, we learn that rather than being slaves to our thoughts, we can respond to the situation as it is, making a more conscious choice. Our minds are very judgmental. They evolved to make (virtually instant) judgments about....well, everything. But if we are not careful, we can become caught up in our thoughts at the expense of real life. So, you need to make a choice to stick with it if you are to benefit from it. Mindfulness takes practice. One of the mind’s judgments will be that it does not like this type of exercise. It likes to stay busy, ‘doing’ things. Ooh, look, you’ve got an email!
    • 5. Get in a comfortable position in your chair. Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, your arms and legs uncrossed, and your hands resting in your lap, palms up or down, whichever is more comfortable. •Allow your eyes to close gently [pause 10 seconds]. •Get in touch with the physical sensations in your body, especially the sensations of touch or pressure where your body makes contact with the chair or floor [pause 10 seconds]. •It is okay for your mind to wander away to thoughts, worries, images, bodily sensations, or feelings. Notice these thoughts and feelings and acknowledge theirpresence. Just observe passively the flow of your thoughts, one after another, without trying to figure out their meaning or their relationship to one another. There is nothing to be fixed. Simply allow your experience to be your experience. [pause 15 seconds]. •Now, please imagine sitting next to a stream [pause 10 seconds]. As you gaze at the stream, you notice a number of leaves on the surface of the water. Keep looking at the leaves and watch them slowly drift downstream from left to right [pause 15 seconds]. A basic exercise in mindfulness • Now, when thoughts come along into your mind, put each one on a leaf, and observe as each leaf comes closer to you. Then watch it slowly moving away from you, eventually drifting out of sight. Return to gazing at the stream, waiting for the next leaf to float by with a new thought [pause 10 seconds]. • If one comes along, again, watch it come closer to you and then let it drift out of sight. Think whatever thoughts you think and allow them to flow freely on each leaf, one by one. Imagine yourthoughts floating by like leaves down a stream [pause 15 seconds].
    • 6. Mindfulness can be practiced in any situation. Why not try it in the following: •In the shower •Brushing your teeth •Getting dressed •Going for a walk •Waiting for a train or bus •Listening to music •Doing the chores Mindfulness in yourdaily routine In each situation, try the following: •Notice the detail of what’s happening. For example: •Notice the taste of toothpaste. The smell of it. The sound of running water. Notice the radio in the background. See the light reflecting in the bathroom mirror. •If your mind wanders, simply notice that, and bring yourattention backto the present moment, and what is happening. •Notice what you can see, smell, hear, taste and feel. •Remember- don’t try to control yourthoughts, simply bring yourfocus backto the present moment.
    • 7. Categorising content This exercise helps you to classify the thoughts, feelings and sensations that arise for you during mindfulness exercises. When you do this exercise, begin with the word ‘The re ’s. . . ’ before classifying. For example, if you think ‘I must buy some lettuce’, then say ‘The re ’s tho ug ht’. If you think ‘this is stupid!’ then say ‘The re ’s judg m e nt’. If you have a rising feeling of panic, ‘The re ’s e m o tio n’. If you notice sweaty palms, ‘the re ’s se nsatio n’. From now on, try to classify whatever arises during mindfulness sessions into the following categories: •Emotions •Thoughts •Sensations •Judgment •Urges •Memories
    • 8. Mindful eating It’s easy to eat without really noticing or being mindful of the food we are eating. To eat more mindfully, try the following: •Set aside extra time to eat mindfully. •During the meal try to notice the food you are eating. Its taste, colour, texture, temperature. •Then try to notice how your body responds to each mouthful. What is tasted, and where? •Don’t try to judge it, just notice it. •See if you can eat more slowly. Try eating one thing at a time, observing the different experiences as you do. •How does the food feel in your throat, and in your stomach? •Notice how hungry you feel, and when you begin to feel full. •Practice noticing when you are hungry and when you are emotional and have the urge to eat. Mindfulness is an excellent technique to help appreciate food again, as well as to become more aware of our eating patterns and habits. In the final exercise, we think in terms of your willingness to experience negative thoughts and emotions to achieve the things that are important to you.
    • 9. My visio n is to . . . . (sum m arise brie fly) An Exercise In Willingness . . . The actio ns Ican take to pro g re ss to wards m y visio n are . . . . The value s unde rlying m y visio n are . . . .
    • 10. The ne g ative tho ug hts and e m o tio ns Ie xpe ct to e xpe rie nce in pursuit o f m y visio n are . . . An Exercise In Willingness . Type so m e o f yo ur scarie st o r m o st pe rsiste nt passe ng e rs he re . . . Be cle ar abo ut yo ur willing ne ss he re . . . . Ho w willyo u re m e m be r this co m m itm e nt? At difficult tim e s, it wo uld be use fulto re m ind m yse lf that. . . . The tho ug hts, e m o tio ns and se nsatio ns I’m willing to have in o rde r to achie ve this g o alare . . . .
    • 11. The CareerPsychologist is an independent occupational psychology consultancy based in London. We offercoaching, consultancy, training, measurement and assessment to individuals and businesses looking to make a change forthe better.