8 Steps to Mindfulness in the Laboratory

8 Steps to Mindfulness in the Laboratory

Stress and anxiety are a normal part of our daily lives and impact everything we do from our relationships with loved ones to our performance in the laboratory.

Like any scientist, I experienced stress during my graduate degree, PhD and post-doctoral research. However, as CEO of Reagent Genie, I had to learn new techniques which have helped me to not only deal with stressful situations but also to increase my performance. I have personally gained a great deal from my daily meditation practice which has become part of my morning routine. Therefore, I would like to illustrate how mindful meditation can work not only to improve your personal well-being but also your relationships and performance in the lab.

1) What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a type of meditation that has come to popularity in Western culture in recent years. It relies primarily on an acute awareness of what is going on in the present moment. By being present, you are neither in the past or the future, you are in the “present” moment, which is the only moment that exists and is the reality we perceive right now.

2) How will mindful meditation make me happy?

Buddhist masters and contemporary practitioners such as John Kabatt-Zinn and Eckart Tolle believe that stress, worry and anxiety are primarily caused by your mind focusing on the past or the future. Mindfulness enables one to be present so you are essentially removing the mind-created, time illusion of past and future and thus allowing peace, contentment and happiness to come to the fore of your mind.

3) How will mindful meditation help me achieve my daily and career goals?

Einstein remarked that “thinking plays only a subordinate part in the brief decisive phase of the creative act itself” meaning that unless you can quieten your mind and clear the “chitter-chatter” you are unlikely to maximise your creativity. I have also found through daily meditation practice that my energy levels have increased dramatically and my ability to concentrate and focus has improved tremendously. So, if you implement mindfulness meditation into your daily routine, you will not only find a higher focus for routine tasks, you will also be more creative and a quieter mind will also leave more room to holistically consider your long-term career plans and prospects.

4) How do I practice mindfulness?

The good news is that mindful meditation is very easy to practice. All you need is yourself! Essentially, mindful meditation requires focus on the breath. As you breath in and out, bring your focus to the breath (I find the nose works well, but also the space between the “in” and “out” breaths). If any thoughts arise, don’t force them away or judge them, let them be as they already are and then gently bring the mind back to the breath. The breath essentially acts as a tether for the mind to the present moment.

5) How much time should I devote to practicing mindfulness?

For beginners, I recommend starting out with a daily 10-minute guided meditation first thing in the morning. You can find a vast number of excellent guided mediation recordings on YouTube or podcasts from various sources. In addition, group practice is a truly wonderful way of meditating and you may be even lucky enough to have a long body scan! As you grow in your mindfulness practice, you can extend out to longer amounts of time.

6) What do I need?

While lying down is very comfortable, it can often lead to sleep which can be viewed as an escape from the present moment. I find that a seated position with a good posture in a well-ventilated room works best.

7) Are there any other ways to practice?

You can bring mindfulness into everything you do in life. All you need to do is focus on your breath and let go of thought. This will bring you into the present moment and connect you with the world around you.

8) Are there any resources that can guide me?

If you are new to this practice, then guided meditation can be a great source of help. I find the recordings of John Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodran and Tara Brach are really good and have helped me focus the mind. However, as meditation is an ancient practice, there is an endless number of classes, books, recordings to help beginners.


The results of practicing mindful meditation have totally astounded me and I cannot even begin to describe the positive outcomes that have come into my life as a result of this daily ritual. I sincerely hope that my brief guide will help you not only to perform better in your workplace, but also endow you with a better quality of life both within and outside the lab.

Remember: the goal of mindfulness is the journey not the destination!

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15th Mar 2021 Colm Ryan PhD

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