Mindfulness and Librarianship

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Libraries are quiet places. Mostly. You might wonder how a person working in such an environment, surrounded by recreational and other information can be stressed. Information overload, user demands and shrinking resources have made the day to day lives of many information professionals similar to walking a tightrope.

Mindfulness as defined by Merriam Webster is, ‘ the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also :  such a state of awareness‘. The recent article in American Libraries on Mindful Librarianship gives simple tips to Mindful Meditation to reduce stress at workplace.

More than a decade ago Devin Zimmerman wrote an article on ‘Mindfulness for librarians’, inspired by Louisa Toot’s “Zen and the Art of Dealing with the Difficult Patron” discussing the use of mindfulness to deal with patrons.

The advantages of mindful meditation as cited by Ellie Ruhlmann are multiple:

  • Increased Focus
  • Ability to handle stress
  • Increased compassion towards patrons and colleagues

Those who practice meditation would agree that additionally the work productivity and general positivism of an individual increases.   Mindfulness techniques can be practiced as part of breathing exercises.

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In India the ancient practice of breathing control is called as Prāṇāyāma. It is a Sanskrit word alternatively translated as “extension of the prāṇa” or “breath control.”

It is an integral part of Yoga practiced by millions of Indians  at homes and in public parks. The ultimate aim of Yoga is to bring harmony between the body and the mind.

Thich Nhat Hanh on The Practice of Mindfulness ( teaches five mindfulness exercises to help you live with happiness and joy.“Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in”, is a profound statement and when put into practice it has the ability to transform your state of being from being stressed out to stress free.

We live in worrying times and these simple exercises could help us be better mindful librarians.

-Bhakti Gala

Content Officer, ILN

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