More individuals and professionals, including scientists, are now investing in the practice and study of mindfulness. The practice is shown (among many benefits) to be good for stress-reduction and to enhance well-being…quality of life (spirituality) and happiness.
We can view mindfulness from two angles: externally – us outwardly being aware, conscious, engaged in action, appreciating the wonders and mystery of life. Or in meditation: whereby in silence or stillness our senses are sharpened and refined. The practice develops insight and wisdom of the heart and mind. In our meditation we embody mindfulness with calm-clarity then interactively externalise this state.
Now, if you’re thinking “I don’t have the time” even if you’d love to meditate, understand: Mindfulness is about being present and engaging in life (externally and within). In being present whilst engaged in action/relating we get more fulfillment and to give our best. You and I know one can easily be here in body but mentally absent. We can become preoccupied, driven, overloaded. The more present we are, we can make more aware, balanced and effective choices.
You as a coach or manager, may appreciate that effective listening is a whole-body/sensory experience – that involves mindfulness. It’s connection – with eyes, heart, mind, spirit! Mindfulness is essentially being awake, awakened and paying attention. For nurturing and development, we may need to include space/time for us to connect, process, refocus and recharge.
We live and learn. Life is a journey of growth, change and transformation. Mindfulness is being connected to the world outside and within us in a conscious purposeful way – not driven on automatic pilot. Whether you are a coach or business executive (a human anyway!) this is a powerful practice to cultivate. Life does not always go to plan! We can lose faith, confidence, feel defeated. Through mindfulness we learn how to resourcefully “be with” whatever. We can live life with purpose, meaning, values. In the grand scheme, our ultimate destination is mindfulness (call it “enlightenment”); one route is via meditation. Being at work, at home or leisure is equally a learning arena! Kindly see some resources on http://www.mindfulness-mbsr.com
Mindfulness is associated with *qualities of *beginner’s mind, non-judging, commitment, patience, letting-go, trust, non-striving and acceptance (among others). These qualities are a consequence of the practice and the attitude we bring to it. The practice supports our empathy, reflection, curiosity and understanding. It enhances awareness, experience and effectiveness. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in new landscapes but in seeing with new eyes” (Proust).
In practicing mindfulness, you expand your attention, the quality and quantity of your experience. Mindfulness lets us see our process, fears, desires, triggers, emotional patterns and attachments; plus new possibilities with some consistency and choice. Now – in any chosen instance – you have the possibility for greater awareness, clarity, choice and creativity. Start now:
o Notice – how you start the day (your mood and its effects)
how (attentively or sensitively) you communicate with someone
o what is a pleasure (or downer) for you
o moments of calm (even amidst your “concerns”)
o see and hear “nature” around you
(You can do the exercises and email me feedback…I’d love to hear your experience). You may be amazed – and will discover benefits, personally and professionally! We can brace ourselves and “get on” with life or discover refreshing new ways. It can be simple things!
Intention is important and powerful (as we know in coaching). The brain (RAS) filters what we focus on. (Recall thinking of a new or rare model of car and it’s suddenly everywhere)? Intention creates a paradigm shift, aligns us to act more consistent with mindfulness. The sooner you start practicing – on your own and get formal training – the better. You will rise to the challenge and desire to learn when you find satisfaction, creativity, fun in it. This is not trivializing the scope or spiritual dimension of mindfulness. We lighten up, expand our focus and appreciation. Your motivation will grow and perhaps embrace meditation/stillness the more you connect and are inspired. A clear intention can empower us to serve the “greater good” more than fears or addictive-behaviours (in lifestyle choices and business).
Being Powerfully Aligned, Connected and Centred
Beware…Thinking that “I know this” won’t do! Mindfulness is more than a good concept or new assault course to notch-up “been there, done that.” You will find books and courses on it. Pointing to the heavens doesn’t land us on the moon. Mindfulness takes consistent practice (plus humour). You “bring it to life.” Enjoy the journey!
Our fast pace and changing world presents challenges and opportunities we need to be capable and resilient to deal with. We can lose sight of life as a gift or journey to experience, much more enjoy. We don’t value time so much as become time-pressured/driven. We get sold on speed, instant gratification, results!
Now imagine being put in control of a vehicle with no training or instruction – how far would that take us? Yet here we are, invested with a high-performance vehicle (human persona) with powerful potential. Meditation accesses the inner power-centre. Is it escapism? It’s neither navel nor star gazing – do we even pause/look to see stars? Surely we want to discover what makes us tick or presses our buttons, our universe, creativity and choices?
You don’t want an emergency to arise before you locate (or test) your power supply or life-jacket. An event or crisis (midlife or spiritual) can bring us to a halt, to seek meaning or purpose. In a typical scenario, whether it’s you or a client, one feels that something is missing. Anyhow, we aim to resolve this. After putting aside thoughts of “quitting” the job (although a new job may be sought), you probably concede that a new job, partner, divorce. body or some mind-blowing retail therapy!! is not a guarantee of happiness. What’s missing is something more within than outside us. Mindfulness facilitates such an exploration in a calm, non-judging, compassionate, insightful manner.
The beauty of mindfulness is that you can practice it everywhere and anywhere, this instant, moment-to-moment: alone, at home, at work, outdoors in nature. Now as you commute (if safe, on the train, bus, as passenger in car) you could take some time to meditate. My journey to and from work was just a means to “get there” until realising these are moments of my life not just necessities to grittingly “get through.” When walking (mindfully) between places, your journey becomes an integral experience, a moment that you live not just a passage from A-B. You are present. Now you may be exceptional, but “being present” (not judging lapses) in action or in meditation is easier said than done! Drop expectations of “being perfect.” Remember: beginners mind, loving-kindness, patience…all the *qualities mentioned earlier…Enjoy!
A 10-day Vipassana retreat (silent residential by S.N Goenka) is highly recommendable. You can start this instant to bring mindfulness to your life. And I am delighted for you to complete a mindfulness based 8-week course in a group with me and other inspired participants. The value of cultivating/living mindfulness, both within and outside of isolation or an ashram is recognised (by Buddha among others) for aeons. 21st Century folks and neuro/behavioural scientists now have the technology to validate its efficacy. Your enthusiasm will naturally grow. Find me and resources at: http://www.mindfulness-mbsr.com. Stay encouraged! Practice as best and consistently as you can!
Exercise: For this month…be open to new empowering discoveries-
o notice what nurtures/inspires you and people around you?
o do one thing at a time (including eating)
o treat yourself (and naturally others) kindly
o can you give up self-criticism
o notice signs of tension in you (physically or emotionally…then relax)
o can you enhance your journey to/from work
o occasionally stop, breathe, let-go for a minute
Record and reinforce your learning in a journal or drawings.
Happy New Year 2008