Education & Career Trends: How to use mindfulness correctly

5 min read

Edition: December 11th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Mindfulness is about active engagement with your thoughts and life’s challenges. (Image Credit: Getty)

The practice of mindfulness has benefits for students as well as the workforce. It helps with stress reduction, focus and self-awareness — even improves engagement and productivity. But according to a new study, many people are using it in the wrong way. 

Researchers at the University of Waterloo found that most laypeople confuse the mindfulness practices with passive acceptance of problems— a misconception, say scientists, as mindfulness actually involves actively engaging with life’s challenges. 

How to practise mindfulness correctly? 

  • Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment, being aware of what you’re experiencing while you’re experiencing it and accepting without judgment whatever arises whether it is a thought, feeling or body sensation.
  • It involves both accepting and engaging with life’s challenges.
  • Many newcomers try to use mindfulness meditation to zone out, withdraw from and avoid life’s challenges or get rid of unpleasant thoughts.
  • But Mindfulness is an active engagement with your thoughts and life’s challenge — not a passive acceptance of them. It’s a tool to help you observe the habitual workings of your mind, how your thoughts create stress and how you can get them to relax.
  • The purpose of mindfulness is to focus on whatever happens as it arises in the here and now—the present moment—without judgment.
  • Although for many people that might not sound worth the time and energy, the results are powerful. The goal is to not have a goal — other than to recognise your pattern of latching on to negative, judgmental thoughts about your daily life, needing things to be different instead of accepting everything in the present just as it is.

Benefits of mindfulness

  • Studies show the way you pay attention in the present moment directly affects your mind, body and brain and your interpersonal relationships.
  • Scientists report that, when done correctly, practising mindfulness slows down your heart rate and brain wave patterns and boosts your immune system and cardiac functioning.
  • With regular mindfulness practices, you enjoy less stress, fewer health problems and a longer life and career trajectory.

The 5 A’s of mindfulness

You can neutralise job stress with mindfulness practices by applying the 5 A’s of mindfulness:

  1. Be Aware of your thoughts
  2. Observe and Acknowledge your thoughts on the inside
  3. Allow them to be there exactly as they are, without fighting or changing them
  4. Accept the thoughts and their reactions to the challenges that life brings
  5. Appreciate the thoughts for their intention to help you

Mindfulness meditation with your breath

  • One of the simplest and easiest forms of mindfulness meditation is to use your breath as a focal point.
  • The actual practice is realising your attention has strayed and bringing your mind back to your breath, linking your mind and body together in the present moment.
  • When you do this for three to five minutes, the practice keeps you more in the here and now as you move through daily work routines
  • Sit in a comfortable place with eyes closed. Breathing in through your nose and out through the mouth, focus on each inhalation and exhalation. Follow your breath through to a full cycle from the beginning when the lungs are full back down to when they’re empty. Then start over again. 
  • As you stay with this cycle, mindfully watching your breath, thoughts arise in the form of judgment: wondering if you’re doing it right, thinking about deadlines and job tasks you have to do later, debating if it’s worth your time. Don’t try to get rid of the thoughts.
  • If your mind gets caught in a chain of thoughts, once you’re aware, gently step out of the thought stream and come back to the sensations of your breath.
  • After five minutes or more, open your eyes and notice how much calmer and more connected you are to the present moment.

Other helpful tips

Consider some of the following steps to slow your pace and bring gentle awareness to your thoughts and feelings:

  • Set aside time to eat slower instead of “the three g’s”: gobble, gulp and go.
  • Avoid eating and working while walking, driving or on the run.
  • Give yourself time cushions between appointments during the day.
  • Do one activity at a time, bringing all of your attention to each one.
  • Delegate and prioritise job tasks and eliminate the least important ones.
  • Take Microbreaks throughout your workday to reset your brain and recharge your batteries.


Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Education Trends: Planning to send your child abroad to study? Here’s the checklist.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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