What is awareness?

Oxford University Press defines awareness as “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.” Knowing and understanding arise through experience and our ability to be present through our actions. With a lack of presence we will have little awareness and will ultimately be unable to change or affect the circumstances for the outcome of the future. Awareness is very important in all aspects of life.

As a patient coordinator at Keck Hospital of USC as well as a meditation and yoga instructor, I understand that the workplace is an environment that most of us experience at least five days a week. It is a place where we are required to perform to the best of our ability, whether we like to or not. The workplace consists of many different people, from different backgrounds, with different ideas. There is a certain dynamic that exists within a workplace that one must understand to survive and flourish.

In many ways, the workplace is an environment in which one is asked to shed his or her identity in order to assume that of the culture or the workplace. For many of us this can be a difficult process, as we have each been raised with our own ideals and morals. In a workplace, it is easy to feel isolated, unhappy and discontent, but one can also feel happy, enjoyed and fulfilled.

Using yoga in a workplace?

Yoga is an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years. Some of the first documented accounts of yoga are roughly 4,000 years old, but it was not until the early third and fourth centuries that yoga was codified into a practice. At this time, yoga became a practice that was based on a systematic approach to obtaining a goal, which for most was enlightenment or contentment in all things. Today, yoga has become a very popular athletic activity that has proven physical and mental benefits. Below I have provided some old yoga practices that can be equally beneficial to us today.

Practices:

1. Listen.

Listen to your coworkers or bosses. There is nothing worse at work than feeling unheard when one feels they have something to contribute. Listening is beneficial for both the talker and receiver. It will benefit you substantially to listen and receive.

“Stay present and listen to others,” echoes Rick A. Friedman, MD, PhD, professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at Keck School of Medicine of USC and the division director of otology, neurotology and skull base surgery in the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. “When you stay present, you don’t have to worry about events that happened in the past or events that are coming up in the future. Instead, you are able to live in the moment. This fosters meaningful relationships that are critical to a healthy and happy life.”

2. Take five minutes to breathe.

Find a quiet space. Place your iPhone or Android on silent, close your eyes for five minutes and breathe. Doing this will create enough space to allow the body to relax so that you are able to work on resolving your issue. Even a five-minute space may be enough for the brain to reset and come back to relaxation.

“Take frequent pauses and breaths throughout the day and remain mindful,” Dr. Friedman says. “By taking frequent pauses, your body is able to reset and stay calm throughout the day. This helps to eliminate the increased pulse rate and blood pressure associated with anxiety.”

3. Take a walk or stretch.

Go outside and walk around your building or stretch. Exercise can relax both the body and the mind. This can be especially healthy whenever you’re stuck in a moment. Even a short walk helps the mind and body to work through difficult situations we encounter on a daily basis while working.

4. Be Kind.

Go out of your way to be kind. At work it is easy to get wrapped up in our own commitments and timelines. Take a minute out of your day to show someone a smile or genuinely greeting. These simple gestures can have profound effects on someone else and yourself.

I have found these four practices to be very beneficial in my work environment. Most importantly of all, always try to be positive and kind to yourself. This is an extremely difficult practice to do, but it will serve you well in life. One of my favorite teachers of yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar, said to “be light in life.” Life can be difficult, overbearing and even frustrating. Even the thought of lightness can lift the clouds and bring forth the shining light.

If you are still feeling stressed out at the workplace, even after implementing these habits, then it might be time to get a check up. To schedule an appointment with your primary care physician for additional assistance in resolving your concerns. Namaste.

If you’re in the Southern California area and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800)USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment to schedule an appointment.

By Jason Gorenstein