Have you ever felt that you just don’t have any more energy to keep on working? Have you then blamed it on stress and started to make associations, reasons and story about why you might feel this way. That’s normal in this culture of intensive analytical thought.
Mindfulness is awareness, with less judgement. It is used to connect us to our senses in a calm, observing way, so that we can 'tune in'. Once we are more tuned into our bodies we can understand them more and take calm, appropriate action. One example of this is meeting your ‘needs’ by first ‘feeling’ into the body and then using intelligent thought to ascertain what it might be.
Maslow gave us a useful method of deduction - the hierarchy of needs. Here I have taken his pyramid of needs, added to in the 1990s by various commentators. I’ve use the resources at Business Balls to inform my research. When we use this we can take a moment from our work and check in with each need, to see if that allows us to re energize and come back afresh. I have broke this down starting at the bottom of the pyramid.
1. Biological and Physiological needs - If you have 15 minutes, take a break from work and try this:
2. Safety needs - if you have a further 15 minutes try these:
3. Social Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family, affection, relationships, etc. Approach this if you have another 15 minutes free (like on a lunch break)
As we go down the list the breaks from work take longer. For fullness I have added them all in with suggestions for ways to check if the needs are met. Mindfulness and ‘full body listening’ will tell you if you need to do these things.
4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
5. Cognitive needs - knowledge, meaning, etc.
6. Aesthetic needs - appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
7. Self-Actualization needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
8. Transcendence needs - helping others to achieve self actualisation.
Clearly you won’t have time in your work day to go through all of these and you don’t need to. Awareness (reading this) and checking in with the body is the first step. I often notice that the physiological needs, once taken care of, free up enough energy to work again. This will also give you better health and les emotional reactivity.
Try this - take a break at work and do some of the suggestions. Let me know how you get on.
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com