Creating a culture of ‘Calm’
UC programs embrace the power of mindfulness
The University of Cincinnati uses mindfulness to help professionals navigate organizational turbulence.
Businesspeople today receive an onslaught of digital notifications pinging simultaneously across multiple devices. Meriden McGraw, director of workplace mindfulness, Osher Center for Integrative Health, shares how mindfulness and productivity are interrelated.
“I like to say mindfulness is the opposite of autopilot. How can you do anything to the best of your abilities if your mind is not present? If your body is present at a meeting, but your mind is on groceries to pick up after work, you’re not truly engaged in the meeting,” McGraw said.
Why it matters
Stress has been referred to as the health epidemic of the 21st century, causing leaders to become less effective and productive. McGraw explains how living in a state of chronic, unmanaged stress creates a host of negative mental and physical issues, including:
- Brain fog
- Lack of focus
- Decreased motivation
“All impact productivity over time,” McGraw said. “Stress isn’t bad. In fact, we need a healthy stress level to function, but we must disconnect and learn ways, like mindfulness, to return our bodies to baseline after a stressor occurs.”
I like to say mindfulness is the opposite of autopilot. How can you do anything to the best of your abilities if your mind is not present?
Meriden McGraw Director of workplace mindfulness, Osher Center for Integrative Health
Encouraging mindfulness, UC offers students, faculty and staff the Calm Application free for one year. While these apps are helpful, McGraw points out the importance of first understanding and building the foundations of mindfulness to maximize the effectiveness of meditation apps.
“For example, understanding why you can’t shut your brain off during guided meditations when using an app," McGraw said. "If we can’t sit by ourselves in silence or identify how we feel at a given moment, if we’re unaware of our internal thought track, how can we show up and support the team we’re leading?“
At the UC College of Medicine, through the Osher Center for Integrative Health, McGraw and a team of experts offer mindfulness tools for UC Health patients; UC students, faculty and staff; and the community, including:
- A mindful eating guide
- Sample mindfulness practices
- Evidence-based mindfulness classes and trainings
- Customized mindfulness workplace programs
“The center is a wonderful resource for anyone on campus or outside of UC, such as corporations wanting to provide mindfulness training and retreats for leadership and staff,” McGraw said.
Another resource is the biweekly Midday Mindfulness at UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub. Held inside the Learning Lab, the group sessions take place every other Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and are open to UC employees and corporate partners. Learning Lab facilitators use guided meditations, group discussions and more to help participants clear their minds in a calming space.
Featured image at top: Meriden McGraw teaches mindfulness. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand