Tax attorneys face considerable pressure from their firms and clients alike as they are expected to be meticulous and scrupulous with their work. To cope with the pressure, some may turn to adaptive coping techniques, behaviors that reduce stress while simultaneously promoting personal health, such as pursuing a hobby, exercise or deep relaxation. However, maladaptive coping techniques like increasing coffee intake, medication, bottling up emotions, which may reduce stress temporarily but simultaneously create other demands and prolonged stress, are far more prevalent.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an awareness stressing purposefully paying attention to (and living in) the present moment. …And how do you do that? Mindfulness involves maintaining one’s awareness of their present experience by redirecting themselves from distractions in the form of thoughts on the past or the future, with a nonjudgmental attitude.

Mindfulness vs. Meditation

A form of mindfulness is involved in most kinds of meditation. Let’s compare other types of meditation and their benefits…

  • Spiritual Meditation: Reflect on the silence around you and seek a deeper connection with your God or Universe. (Spiritual Growth)
  • Body Scan/Progressive Relaxation Meditation: Involves scanning the body for areas of tension, starting at one end of their body, slowly tightening and relaxing one muscle group at a time, while working through the other end of the body. The goal is to notice tension and to allow it to release. (Stress Relief + Relaxation)
  • Loving Kindness Meditation: Ideal for those holding feelings of anger or resentment, opens the mind to receive love from others and then to send a series of well wishes to loved ones, the world, and all living beings. (Compassion + Acceptance)
  • Visualization Meditation: Involves imagining a scene vividly and use all five senses to add as much detail as possible. (Mood Boosting)
  • Mantra Meditation: Involves using a repetitive sound to clear the mind, allows you to experience deeper levels of awareness. (Awareness)

Mindfulness in the Workplace

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the implementation of mindfulness training programs in the workplace environment over the past decade. Businesses like Aetna, General Mills, Goldman Sachs and even EY have begun to implement mindfulness meditation training programs for their employees. EY offers mindfulness training to its employees in three forms: 1) a keynote as an introduction to mindfulness by EY Americas Mindfulness Leader, Cliff Smith, 2) eight-week course deep diving into mindfulness practices and 3) a digital mindfulness program allowing the user to learn at their own pace.

 

How to Practice Mindfulness

Set a timer for your practice (1-5 minutes, add more time with experience). Sit in a way that is alert yet relaxed. Close your eyes if you’d like or direct your gaze downward. Direct your full, undivided attention to your object of focus, the experience of breathing, noticing the sensations of the in-breath and the out-breath. If you find that your mind has wandered, take note and then gently but firmly focus your attention back to your breathing.

Hints! There’s no way to quiet your mind. That’s not the goal here. Your mind will wander. it’s human nature but it is in that moment where you recognize that your mind has wandered and redirect your attention that is crucial for mindfulness. It’s all about returning your attention again and again without judgment to your point of attention.

What are the Benefits?

Benefits of Mindfulness

Individuals who practice mindfulness have focused attention and are more self-aware. By being aware of your stress, one is able to manage pressure and stress better and also able to choose where to place their pay attention upon. In learning to give less attention to one’s stressors, we are also decreasing amygdala reactivity. The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls the “fight or flight” response. In controlling and reducing this response, we are able to limit anxiety, reduce depression and improve self-control.

Mindfulness facilitates more constructive conflict management by augmenting a person’s ability to metacognitively reappraise conflict. Conflict management refers to the actions people take to deal with conflict and metacognition involves using second-order cognition to evaluate and adjust primary thoughts and emotions relating to the conflict. Mindfulness takes metacognition a step further beyond merely thinking about primary thoughts and emotions, by instead altering the very way people relate to them. People who can engage in mindful metacognition are able to detach and disidentify from their thoughts and emotions and reperceive them as subjective phenomena of the mind rather than objective features of reality.

Hints! There’s no way to quiet your mind. That’s not the goal here. Your mind will wander. it’s human nature but it is in that moment where you recognize that your mind has wandered and redirect your attention that is crucial for mindfulness. It’s all about returning your attention again and again without judgment to your point of attention.

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