The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~ Marcel Proust
Interest in mindfulness has been growing steadily in recent years. There are now thousands of research studies into the uses of mindfulness, and professionals are using it in Boardrooms, Schools, and Hospitals across the world.
Organizations are finally seeing the value of having mindful leaders. The boss everyone loves is an emotionally intelligent leader; one that has presence, who makes others feel secure, calm and trusting. People are usually attuned to their leaders, so as a leader in order to set the tone it is imperative for you to be mindful. Mindfulness trains leaders to become more focused, caring, concerned and empathetical.
So, what makes us mindful?
How do we cultivate mindfulness?
Is meditation the way to mindfulness?
Mindfulness and Meditation are often used to mean the same thing, but that is far from being true. In fact, I would say mindfulness and meditation are mirror reflections of each other: Although meditation practice is the primary pathway to achieving and sustaining mindfulness, mindfulness extends far beyond and is much more than meditation. Mindfulness supports and enriches meditation, while meditation nurtures and expands mindfulness.
To answer the question of how to cultivate mindfulness I would like you to think of your attention, and attitude. Most of the time our attention is not where we intend it to be. Our attention is hijacked by our thoughts and emotions, by our concerns, by our worries for the future and our regrets of the past. Mindful meditation is a way of being: to actually allow things to be held in awareness without having to operate on them, without having to make anything happen or try to experience some special state of relaxation. To meditate; sit in silence focusing on your breath and just be with the unfolding of life from moment to moment without any agenda whatsoever. Practice for ten minutes every day and you will be on your way to mindfulness.
Jon Kabat-Zinn the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction defines mindfulness as “The awareness that arises out of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.”
Research in Neuro-science have linked a regular mindfulness practice with better self-esteem and decreased social anxiety. The practice of refocusing the brain actually shrinks your fight or flight responses, dips cortisol levels, and improves focus, memory and productivity.
Daniel Goleman says that mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Therefore, as a leader to increase performance, to enhance your capability to handle stress, to keep your eye on the goal you need to learn emotional intelligence and mindfulness. Mindfulness will make you better at monitoring yourself, it increases your self-awareness, and will help you work more effectively with people and become more effective at work. Goleman’s mindful leader is admired, centered, emotionally balanced, empathetical, and cares.
Mindfulness at work is becoming part of many organizations and Google sets the best example by teaching a course titled “Search Inside Yourself” designed to transform the work and lives of the best and brightest of its employees through mindful meditation.
Being a leadership coach who has been a practicing mindful meditator for 12 years I can definitely say that mindfulness is the best tool to help anchor changes in habits and behaviors. Moreover, It is easy to become mindful and there are myriad ways to incorporate mindfulness into the ordinary tasks and activities of everyday life. Start by consciously anchoring your awareness in the here and now and access brief but meaningful moments of mindfulness throughout the course of your day by mindful e-mailing, mindful walking or mindful eating and be on your way of becoming a mindful leader.