Mindfulness: ideal for our aging state

Two-day NHTI conference will help people use the practice to its full potential

New Hampshire is an aging state. That means we have an   aging workforce — and, like it or not, that means aging brains, too. It is important, therefore, that people working in the Granite State do what we can to keep ourselves sharp. That’s one reason we should all be interested in mindfulness: the positive impact it has on brain development.

Over the last decade or so, mindfulness has gone from an obscure practice to a mainstream phenomenon. More and more businesses are infusing mindfulness training into their work, and more and more studies are quantifying its benefits. Those benefits range from increased emotion regulation during stressful experiences to positive impacts on brain regions related to learning, memory function and decision-making.

Those abilities are clearly related to workplace performance. Stressful experiences happen all the time, whether we are struggling to meet deadlines, interacting with disgruntled customers (or colleagues!), or trying to balance the demands of home and work life. Meanwhile, technology is updated constantly and society is changing quickly. Facing these challenges in a fast-paced work environment can negatively impact our ability to learn, remember things or think clearly.

No matter how long we have been in our jobs, or how old we are, mindfulness can help. However, it is useful to understand what mindfulness is before getting involved with it. Some people think mindfulness is the equivalent of meditation and that it is simply a form of stress reduction one practices when they need to calm down. Such misperceptions threaten to reduce the impact mindfulness can have on our lives, as well as water down the trainings people develop.

Think about the benefits mentioned above for a moment: increased ability to learn, improved memory and increased decision-making abilities. If we are able to learn better, remember more and think more clearly, we will also likely reduce the amount of stress we experience. Put another way, one reason mindfulness reduces the amount of stress people experience is because of all the ways it impacts how people engage with their lives.

NHTI’s upcoming second annual Mindfulness in Society Conference, to be held Sept. 13-14, is designed to help people use mindfulness to its full potential.

On Friday, Sept 13, internationally known keynote speakers will take the stage and attend a VIP reception that evening. Speakers include Congressman Tim Ryan, presidential candidate and author of “Healing America: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Recapture the American Spirit”; Rhonda Magee, professor of law at the University of San Francisco and author of “The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness”; and Judson Brewer, director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center and author of “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love, Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.”

The Saturday, Sept. 14 agenda consists of 16 workshops by local mindfulness professionals in the fields of business, education and healthcare. Participants can attend all of the workshops within a single track or mix and match.

For more information, go to nhti.edu/mindfulness_conference or contact Laura A. Scott at lascott@ccsnh.edu or 603-271-6484, ext. 4239.

Dan Huston, a professor of writing and communication at NHTI—Concord’s Community College, coordinates the school’s mindful communication courses and certificate and teaches mindful communication for businesses through the Business Training Center. He can be reached at dhuston@ccsnh.edu.

Categories: Opinion