Peaceful image of man looking at the sunset.

We live in a world and an age of distraction. Televisions, cell phones, computers, and electronic devices keep us tethered to our jobs, games, and screens. In tandem with our technology devices, the fast pace of our culture, our personal responsibilities, our jobs and the demands placed on all, keep us going and going - stressed out. Consequently, these obligations and distractions remove us from day to day living, time with our families, and the reality of our immediate environment, whether at work or at home. We will look at ways to remove ourselves from mindlessness to mindfulness. We will merely touch on mindfulness; books, articles and websites devote more extensive focus on the practice.

Mindfulness originated within Hinduism and Buddhism in India thousands of years ago. In this country, the current wave of mindfulness therapies, coaching, exercises and meditation practice began in the 1970’s by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts.

Mindfulness in occupational health and safety started after Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s initial introduction of the process. Some in the safety profession referred to mindfulness in work safety as “present moment thinking”. The work safety outlook was to have employees who were distracted by many things while performing a job or task, focus on the moment and work activity being undertaken. The following table compares the categories of mindless behaviors with mindful thinking and frame of mind.

Taking mindfulness off the job into the home and personal setting, it can apply to any activity being undertaken. While driving, we can all identify with times when being on autopilot, we go from Point A to Point B and we cannot explain the time in between. Also, while performing a task, at once we may be on the phone, watching a movie, and writing an email to demonstrate an extreme example of multi- tasking. There are people that claim that they perform each task well and see themselves as productive in this mode. Although studies have shown that one cannot focus on several tasks at one time, without compromising the quality and efficiency of the effort, along with the memory of the tasks. When multi-tasking activity includes operating a vehicle, machines, or tools, your personal safety can be compromised. “In the workplace, multi-tasking has been shown to steal time, take away from quality and accuracy, and even negatively impact an individual's mental health” (Cravenshaw 2008).

Transferring mindfulness to our daily lives, in addition to the benefit of being safe, mindfulness adds another significant dividend. We can change our individual version of the “rat race” and remove ourselves out of flitting from one point to the next and of the chronic distraction of doing one thing and then the next in what at times appears to be a never-ending cycle. We can learn to relax our minds, our senses and out total outlook. By doing this: immersing ourselves by paying attention to what can be seen, heard, felt, tasted or smelled in our existing environment: our surroundings, the people - family, friends, and associates we gain a greater appreciation of individuals we care for, nature, our hobbies and life overall. By fully engaging ourselves in any given moment, task or activity and being aware of what one does at that time, the effort increases and deepens our appreciation of everyone, and everything.  All elements that make up our lives need to be savored and appreciated for our safety and our well-being. Live is too short and precious to do otherwise.

-Jose Bermudez