Mari Rasimus is a mindfulness coach as well as a social media professional, and she knows what leading a busy digital life takes. She has taught mindfulness for crowds of people in seminars and via podcast. It is appropriate, thus, to begin an article about her by doing a short meditation exercise: “Put away the devices in your hand,” says Rasimus. “Sit comfortably in your chair and place your feet firmly on the floor. Then straighten your back,” she continues in a gentle voice. “Close your eyes and listen to what happens around you. You may hear the air conditioning and noises coming from outside the room.” Let’s be quiet for a while, let’s listen and focus our minds.
After a few moments we move our focus to our bodies: “Can you feel the chair and the floor under your feet? Pay attention to the spot where you can feel yourself breathing.” Here Rasimus asks us to note how our mind reacts: “What are you thinking about? Does it feel weird, useless or great, or do you just want to do something else?” We finish the exercise by being quiet for another while and then we return to the here and now.
Multitasking Can Be Inefficient
In today’s society, where people are busy both at work and in their leisure time, with various technical devices requiring constant attention, there is a great need for awareness skills and the ability to live in the moment. “We’re all very good at multitasking; we write emails in meetings and we think we’re efficient even though the human brain was designed to focus on one task at a time,” says Mari Rasimus.
In addition to external stimuli that we are exposed to, our minds also produce a great number of interruptions and stimuli. Rasimus says that we think between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts on average every day. “Most of the thoughts are irrelevant in that they have nothing to do with the moment we’re in, but they relate to the past or future. Our mind can spend an entire day somewhere else. Yet this moment is the only moment where we can really do anything!”
Innovation at All Costs
The social environment and the digitalized work place urge us to be innovative and boost Finland’s competitiveness. “This would require creativity, positive attitude, healthy self-esteem and trust in the future. At the same time, employees are laid off and fewer people do the work.” Rasimus finds the situation absurd. “Brian Solis has said that digitalization is not about technology but about empathy, customer-oriented approaches, openness and teaching organizations to think differently.”
The way we are trying to cope with all this is typical of Finns. “We keep pushing through or else we find new ways to be efficient,” says Rasimus. She thinks we have a solution ready at hand, though. “The solution is our intellectual capital and understanding the fact that we can exercise our brain in the same way we can exercise our body.” Contrary to common belief, our brain is changing constantly. “It has been proven that a great way to exercise the mind is to get involved in mindfulness meditation,” Rasimus explains. “Mindfulness exercises bring the mind to the here and now in an inquisitive, open and approving way. When your thoughts start to wander, you gently guide them back. The ‘brain muscle’ develops through exercise.”
Satisfaction Enhances Productivity
Mindfulness has been extensively researched. It has been proven to be as beneficial to people’s wellbeing as exercise and healthy diet. It also helps to lower stress levels and to enhance creativity, empathy, concentration and people skills, and it boosts happiness.
Every time Rasimus organizes mindfulness events for companies, she emphasizes that happy employees are productive employees. “I hope to see a time in the near future when people wouldn’t say they are very busy when asked how they are doing but that companies would appreciate those who take breaks and really switch off for the weekend. It would be great if everyone saw the benefits of rest, recovery and living in the moment.”
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