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Learn & Practice

Workplace Wednesday: How to Get Unstuck

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Workplace Wednesday, we use meditation to help us work through mental blocks at work.

Photo by Brandy Kennedy on Unsplash

Have you ever been working on a tricky project and find yourself hitting a wall? Maybe you’re overwhelmed with choices, or a clear strategy isn’t present, or there are complex interpersonal dynamics in your workplace and you just don’t know how to move forward. 

That feeling? You’re stuck. 

It can be challenging to move past these mental blocks and know how to move forward. But it may be as easy as going back to Awareness, or more specifically, the skill of mindfulness – the building blocks of the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being.

This might seem paradoxical, but what we resist tends to persist. Instead, open up to the feeling of stuckness to help it shift and change. 

Here’s how our founder, Dr. Richard Davidson, explains the science behind this feeling and how meditation can help:

The prefrontal cortex [of the brain] is typically engaged whenever there’s an element of selection, of regulation, of control. It’s often associated with some subjective sense of effort and also a sense of trying to change something, often. Not always, but often. The idea of letting go, of complete relaxation, one of the ways I think about that is, the prefrontal cortex is given an opportunity to go offline for a while, to take a rest, and this allows a more expansive field of awareness. It’s not that it’s dull. It’s not that we’re paying less attention, but rather the aperture of attention is changing. The aperture is widening. As a scientist who depends upon the creative process of my mind, I find this to be something very, very valuable, because when I meditate and engage in the style of meditation which is more of a letting go kind of style, I often do become aware of thoughts that probably were rumbling around there before, but I just didn’t notice them, that can be very helpful, both in my scientific work, as well as in my personal life.

Dr. Richard Davidson

While you may not immediately find your answer to your problem with an awareness practice, you will at least gain space, and with space, often comes creativity and new perspectives.

Dr. Davidson even has a tip if this happens:

I often will, after a meditation session, I keep a little pad by my meditation cushion, and will just jot down a few notes after a particular session of some thoughts that occurred to me that I feel are worth remembering. I think this style of relaxing attention is something very, very important, and I think it primarily involves the prefrontal cortex going offline.

Dr. Richard Davidson

Ready to get unstuck? Here’s a 2 minute seated meditation to help you start. Or go for a walk and try this active mindfulness practice while you enjoy some sun. Don’t forget your notebook!

Learn more about how the Healthy Minds Framework can support your workplace well-being with Healthy Minds @Work .

Dr. Richard Davidson HM@Work Workplace Wednesdays