Mindfulness: the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, basically through meditation. We all feel stressed at times, although stress in the right amount is useful and essential for survival, the effects of stress can be unpleasant or uncomfortable. How useful could mindfulness be to seafarers though?
Actually, the term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions. Clinical studies have documented both physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in different categories:
- to reduce depression symptoms
- to reduce stress & anxiety
- to treat drug addiction etc.
The popularity of mindfulness in the modern context is generally considered to have been initiated by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Subsequently many programs based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s model, and similar ones have been widely adopted.
Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn,
How to practice mindfulness onboard
Calm your body and empty your mind in order to reverse the physiological changes which happen to your body when stressed. Relaxation will help you to lower your overall tension and stress levels.
2. Try the progressive muscular relaxation
Are you familiar with the difference between how our muscles feel when they are tense and how when they are relaxed? Progressive Muscle Relaxation teaches us how to relax our muscles through a two-step process.
1. By systematically tense particular muscle groups in our body, such as your neck and shoulders
2. Releasing the tension and notice how our muscles feel when we relax them
3. Controll your breathing
Breathe slowly and deeply from the bottom of your lungs. This technique helps the heart slow down and the body to return to its resting state. Controlling our breathing before entering into a difficult situation can help balance our anxiety level and bring the desired performance.
Why Mindfulness meditation on board
As said above, meditation is a way to recognize and take the right measures to manage stress. Meditation is a practice where people focus mind on a particular object in order to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. Specifically, mindfulness meditation involves the process of developing the skill of bringing one’s attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. Several meditation exercises have been designed to develop mindfulness meditation. This technique can fuel performance by managing distressing emotions such as feeling out of control, jumping from one thought to the next or ruminating on negative thoughts by physically altering brain. It is of essence therefore to exercise mindfulness meditation even onboard in order to
- To start your day with more energy and clarity
- To find inner peace and be dominated by toxic thoughts
- To deal with creativity backwards
– Shipowners’ Club together with ISWAN have produced a 13-minute audio relaxation exercise – entitled Managing stress with relaxation techniques -to help seafarers cope with stress at sea.
– Researches have shown that staff practicing mindfulness is more focused to daily tasks.
– It can take time to learn to relax the body and notice the difference between tension and relaxation. At first, it can feel uncomfortable to be focusing on your body, but this can become quite enjoyable over time
– According to a 2016 study by National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, 22% of companies had mindfulness development programs in place and another 21% was planning to invest in this practice the year after.