“Mindfulness is a way of being present: paying attention to and accepting what is happening in our lives. It helps us to be aware of and step away from our automatic and habitual reactions to our everyday experiences.”
The term mindfulness is often associated with mediation, and it certainly has a role in the practice. However, mindfulness can also be a way of being and of experiencing the world around you, opening up new possibilities and opportunities simply by being attuned to what is happening at a given moment in time.
If you think about most of your thoughts around your business, or even around your personal life, they tend to fall into two distinctive categories. One is thinking about the past, including both positive and negative experiences. The second category is in thinking about the future, which includes planning, development and seeking out future options for personal and professional growth.
The problem with these two categories of thought is one focuses on events that have already happened and cannot change, and the other focuses on thoughts that are yet to happen and cannot be directed or controlled.
There is a third possibility, and those are events that are happening in the moment. These are the events and opportunities that can be controlled and can be created and molded as they unfold around us.
Learning how to be mindful is about focusing in on the reality of our life at the moment it is happening. Through processes such as meditation, anyone can develop the ability to be in the moment, to be truly present in the current time, removed from the limitations of the past and the yet to happen potential of the future.
The Results Are In
In studies completed around the world, including in such prestigious institutions as Harvard and Stanford, there were some amazing results found when business professionals, including those completing MBA programs or business studies, were taught mindfulness practices.
The studies found that mindfulness practices increased gray matter in the brain while also lowering cortisol levels. This translates into a higher level of problem-solving ability and information processing combined with lower reported levels of stress. Managers and leaders in industry reported feeling calmer, more centered and less reactive, while also being more effective at business decision making, problem-solving and working collaboratively with others.
At the same time, being mindful and taking in the information from the world around them also made a significant change in how the business leaders approached problems and challenges. They reported being more creative and having the ability to see multiple options for the resolution of a challenge, rather than developing tunnel vision or focusing on one solution.
Mindfulness, or becoming aware of the moment in non-judgmental terms, is a powerful tool for building a healthy workplace culture and creating effective leadership tools that really work.