Stop—take a breath. Notice it. Notice your body relax. Become aware of where you are. Acknowledge your thoughts, but don’t cling to them. Let them go.
Mindfulness—it’s what Roger Pelletier, MS Leadership, Manager of Clinical Operations 2, does every day. As part of a resource to PRA’s Mindfulness Community Group, Roger hosts 15-minute mindfulness sessions every other Monday at 12:00 p.m. ET for PRA employees.
In this interview with Roger, we share the importance of practicing mindfulness during tough times.
How long have you been practicing meditation? What drew you to it?
I've been meditating for about 20 years through yoga meditation. About five or six years ago, I found this app called Headspace, and it really advanced my practice. I feel like it makes you more resilient.
What inspired you to create a mindfulness community?
I got my master’s degree in leadership last year, and one of the courses brought me to a paper about mindfulness in corporate America. It put me in touch with numerous mindfulness resources. So that's what inspired me to start the room.
We currently have 274 PRA employees who are members of the group and we all post. I try to post at least every couple of weeks. We've got several active members that are posting great content as well.
Do you think we should meditate more, given the state of our world and this pandemic? Why? How does it help?
If a small thing like this meditation resource gets more people to start practicing, it's a positive outcome. It brings people more coping skills, more resilience, and more compassion for themselves and for others. It prevents burnout.
Our industry can be high-pressure—everything is urgent. Everything's on timelines. If we take time to integrate something that will increase our resilience, we’ll be able to get through these peaks and valleys with situations like COVID-19. It’s a great coping tool.
There are immediate benefits to mindfulness and there are long-term benefits. An immediate benefit of just sitting down to meditate is that you're taking a break from whatever is stressing you out. You're taking a few moments to care for yourself. There’s an immediate calming and de-stressing effect.
The long-term benefit is resilience. The long-term is when you really build and change. There's so much science involved with mindfulness and meditation. When you practice mindfulness or meditation, you change the structures of the brain. You change the parts that react to stress. Rather than stress affecting you in negative ways, physically and mentally, you allow it to resolve itself almost immediately. It doesn’t affect you like it did before.
How has your practice helped or changed with this recent pandemic?
I’ve increased it. I’ve probably doubled the minutes of meditation. I typically meditate 15 minutes, but now I’m adding on 5 to 10 minutes.
Many people worldwide are working from home while taking care of their kids and loved ones. How can they find time outside of their busy day and a quiet environment to practice meditation?
The shower is a perfect example. You can quiet your mind, you can focus on your breath, and you can focus on exactly what you're doing. Just bringing your awareness completely to the moment is meditation, too. We don't have to say, “Close your eyes and cross your legs.” You could do it anywhere. You can make activities mindful—you could wash your dishes mindfully or brush your teeth mindfully.
Get the kids into it, if you can! Get everybody sitting and say, “Okay, we're gonna put the timer on for five minutes. Just pay attention to your breath.” It’s not easy, but when you watch your breath, you give yourself a break. You let yourself be quiet, thoughts will occur, but you non-judgmentally bring the focus back onto the breath.
Even if it’s not a quiet space, you want to be able to incorporate everything around you. Let all the noises and distractions happen as long as you can sit. For five minutes, watch your breath—that's all you need. You don't need to reserve a special space.
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