“It's perfectly safe to stand nowhere.” -Ram Dass
When I began my career nearly 45 years ago, the road to success may have seemed a little long, but it was paved in concrete and well-illumined.
Today, however, you can be cruising along at 80 miles an hour only to find the road ends abruptly in a pool of darkness and you find yourself in a farmer's lane with only a jug of cheap whiskey to light your path back to civilization (I grew up in the Amish Country, so cut me a little slack with the metaphors.)
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years.
But just what does being mindful mean and how does it work?
In this guide, you'll learn why being mindful matters and how to practice it.
A major global movement is taking place to make corporations more people centric as a way of achieving great results.
The world is facing a global leadership crisis. 77% of leaders think they do a good job of engaging their people, yet 88% of employees say their leaders do a bad job with engagement. There is also a high level of suffering in the workplace: 35% of employees would forego a pay raise to see their leaders fired.
This is an enormous waste of human talent –despite the fact that $46 billion is spent each year on leadership development.
Decision-making is an important element in our lives that determines the course of our future actions and experiences. All of us have to make decisions every day, whether we have to decide what kind of breakfast to have in the morning or to take the stairs on your way to work. These small decisions do not require a lot of thought and are easily determined by our previous choices and intuitive processing. However, there are situations in which we have to make important decisions like choosing our career path or moving to another country. In these situations, a decision requires a more complex rationalization.
Finding the time to exercise is hard if you don't have a lot of spare time. If you’re a single parent, chances are you don’t have a lot of time to devote to your own fitness. Even if you do have a moment of free time, you’re likely exhausted from life’s never-ending responsibilities. And on top of that, getting in shape is expensive, right? What if money is tight? While it would be disingenuous to say that tending to your own fitness as a single parent is easy, it can be done. Here are some tips for the overworked, overbooked, and overextended.
The business of mindfulness has extended beyond $1 Billion today, excluding revenues from various apps out there. Researchers are also getting immersed in the area, in terms of health benefits at work, yet very little exists on the impact mindfulness has on leaders at work and most studies are done in a clinical setting.
As an organization consultant in the corporate arena, I know that companies will increasingly ask about the ROI of mindfulness programs, as blasphemous as that may seem to some of you! To address this, I conducted a study to understand the value in which mindfulness programs may have in the workplace, specifically on leaders.
Imagine that I just handed you a financial report. Let’s say it’s a “Profit and Loss” report for your business. What might arise in you mentally, emotionally, even physically, as you read the report? How do you interpret the numbers on the page? For many of us, even just reading numbers is much more than a neutral experience, internally. They’re just figures...literal place-holders of some sort of value. Yet something like reading a financial report can lead to tremendous pain and self-judgment for some.
These days, mindfulness is constantly discussed at networking luncheons, presented on by professional panels or touched on in informative online
think pieces. Despite the fact mindfulness has become such a ubiquitous concept, many people forget that these techniques have application outside of the business world. Here at Maryland Recovery, a top addiction treatment facility In the United States, we see how mindful
meditation can impact a person struggling with addiction on a daily basis.
Dr Adele Krusche and Chris Jack, PhD candidate at Queen Mary's, have just finished the report on the quantitative study of the impact of the Mindfulness-based Organisational Education (MBOE) programme we delivered for staff at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) last year. We've used a measure from Self Determination Theory, Basic Psychological Needs at Work Scale (which is comprised of competence, autonomy and relatedness) to assess its organisational impact.
Many difficult discussions need to be had in the NHS and more broadly in wider society about health care. The objective of the course we've trialled with ROH is to educate staff about importance of human emotions in the workplace and how to work with them.
While mindfulness proponents often state that practitioners can reap benefits from the concept being infused with Buddhist wisdom, they typically swiftly clarify that mindfulness is secular and not religious. This contradiction has been pointed out by critics1 who encourage a a broader notion of mindfulness that includes not only being attentive to the present moment, but also being attentive to those around us and the planet we live on.
In my final post exploring the connection between oral health and imbalances that may affect your brain, we look at the importance of HOW we eat. Even when we
are mindful about what food we choose to eat, the act of eating can increase or decrease how your body absorbs and utilizes the precious nutrients within each meal and the result will not only be
healthier teeth but a healthier mind and body.
In my last post I focused on the connection between dental health and brain function, I explored how deficiencies in Vitamins B6 and D3 can cause adverse symptoms in your mouth as well as lead to mental health and cognitive impairment. If you are experiencing symptoms of oral diseases, mental health imbalance or cognitive decline, this post will shed some light on two more evidence-based methods to improve outcomes within your brain and mouth.
Often my role as a parent merges with my role as a practitioner due to the nature of my work which focuses on the underlying mechanisms of
optimal health and longevity. As a mother and a nutritionist, I approach my kids and clients similarly with a curiosity that seeks to understand how symptoms tell a story about biochemical
processes that lie within the blind spots of the body. This approach, based in functional medicine, aims to piece together the clues that our bodies offer in an effort to uncover the root causes
of imbalance. For a practitioner like me, this means that nothing is ignored and even the smallest sign might be the hint that offers answers.
My son gets cavities. Ever since he was a little thing, it is almost sure that he will have a cavity at each visit to the dentist. From a holistic nutrition side, I hit the roof each time this occurs because, while my kids get their fair amount of sugar, they also eat an organic whole food diet rich with vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grass-fed meats. They don’t drink soda or juice and they brush and floss regularly. This week, once again, we saw the dentist only to find out that there were a few more cavities to fill. This set my mind spinning because in the world of functional medicine and holistic nutrition, when something is out of balance, there are little warning signs and if those warning signs are not met with a response that rebalances the body, then the imbalance will lead to many more problems, often much more severe and sometimes irreversible. The question I wanted to answer was this; what if my son’s tendency to cavities is indicative of an imbalance that may cause him greater harm later? What if his cavities are the canary in the coal mine? So, I began to research and this is what I found…Cavities may be a symptom of imbalances that are also linked to depression, nervousness, insomnia, irritability, confusion and impaired mental concentration.
Michael Sapiro, PsyD lives and works on the frontier of spirituality, social justice, science, and psychology. He earned his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and holds a Master’s in English Studies. He is a consultant with the Institute of Noetic Sciences and is on faculty at Esalen Institute. He specializes in PTSD with an emphasis on combat trauma for returning veterans. Michael is the founder of Maitri House Yoga and was trained for 20 years in both traditional Yoga philosophy and lifestyle, and Buddhist meditation. He has lived in Zen temples and was ordained for a short period as a Buddhist monk in Thailand. He and his wife lead cultural immersion trips to Thailand with teachers such as Richard Miller, Christine Carter, Terry Patten, and Sarahjoy Marsh. He offers trainings, workshops and retreats for individuals and organizations on meditation-based interventions in clinical settings, employee self-care and sustained well-being, and on practices for awakening to full human potential. He can be reached by email - click here - or at his website: maitrihouseyoga.com
Integrating mindfulness into business and leadership practices is no longer a novel concept. Mindful eating, however, is less commonly associated with entrepreneurial success stories, but I believe that is about to change. There are two major aspects to mindful eating that can propel you and your business to the next level by improving focus, mental sharpness and stamina leading to more moments of brilliance and efficiency.
The Leadership Multiverse
I spend a lot of my time in the UK working with leaders drawn from across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and with increasing frequency they get what it means to be a “Good to Great Leader”. They are comfortable with Covey and have sought first to understand then be understood. And they’re down with Hertzberg, Drucker, Kotter, Schlezinger, Blanchford, Hamel, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Semler, Heitfetz & Minsky, Morgan, Peters, Scouller, Goffee & Jones, Maxwell… Of course, I could go on but I won’t & for the simple reason there are, if you care to Google it, 800 Million hits for leadership.
A few days ago I had an experience of a lifetime. After all these years fly-fishing western rivers, it was my first experience standing in the stream just feet away from a great blue heron. But it wasn’t just the proximity. It was the duration: for more than an hour we stood together and fished. And despite shifting strong winds and rain we stayed, and we caught fish: I on a size 22 trico at the end of my line and she right smack on the point of her strong, spear-like beak. After a while I laid down my fly rod and just watched, awestruck. Her display of focus and agility quite simply blew me away.
I want to be just like her – fierce and yet completely at ease, strong and gentle, able to move fluidly and decisively from a place of instinct rooted in a deep, visceral intuition.
I was on the Acela Express last week, sitting next to a high-level HR benefits consultant, and I opened up to him about my desire to move full-time
into being a mindfulness trainer. “Ah, mindfulness,” he replied. “Well of course there is great interest in that right now, but you’re going to find it very tough out there because there are a
ton of people in the field.”
I smiled. Many of us on this site have engaged in discussions and debated whether or not the “McMindfulness” phenomenon is a good thing for business or a bad thing. Here’s my take on it: It’s a good thing, but it’s not nearly enough.
A comprehensive new review of research on mindfulness, carried out by doctoral candidate, Christopher Lyddy, at Case Western Reserve University, has shown that investing in a corporate culture of mindfulness has a plethora of benefit for employees and employers – including better concentration on the tasks at hand, improved behaviour and greater attention during working hours. Lyddy notes that traditionally, Western companies were reticent to invest in mindfulness, which was viewed as an esoteric practice that had few practical benefits. The new research has shed light on the many ways that mindfulness can enable teams to work together towards common goals, without letting distraction or stress steer them away from their intended path.
Being mindful is a complex activity. A mindful existence requires us to be actively and consciously aware of our surroundings,
perceptions, feelings, state of mind, physical body and relationships. Mindfulness further requires an understanding and mastery of our ultimate responsibility to choose in each and every moment.
When interacting with others, there is a special attention on our choice of language and our choice about when to speak and when to listen. As someone who spends a lot of time teaching leaders to
coach, I am keenly aware that a coaching approach to leadership requires a shift into mindfulness.
The future is definitely not going to look at all like the past or present.
Herb is a 24-year-old manufacturing engineer, he has been out of school for two years and he is on his second company and third job. He has been told that he has promise but he knows that means nothing in light of the constant shifting landscape of companies in his career niche.
To be able to do what we love, to know and be who we truly are, and to be generously supported and compensated for our unique gifts are all essential to designing a life that is satisfying and sustainable. And to be able to do all of this while creating a world that is better off than we found it... this in essence is the focus of conscious capitalism and in turning our attention to mindfully engaging with money and money-related matters. When our livelihood is 'right', it feels right and fulfilling, and only we can know for ourselves when we are aligned with what matters most to us, be it individually, socially, or globally.
Our minds are subject to fear, worry, resentment, and endless loops of rumination and negativity. Each person has developed their own mixture of coping mechanisms to live with this incessant chatter, some of these strategies are more supportive of well-being than others. Our minds bully us, tell us stories that aren’t true, replay dramatizations of events that happened decades ago and just generally try to hijack our attention and our emotions. How can we make friends with this mind? Allow it to become our ally rather than our adversary?
Mindfulness is a very personal practice. I like to tell people “You can’t do it wrong.”
What that means is, each person can practice in ways that work for them. You may find that some of the classic mindfulness exercises that are designed to be good self-care practices actually make you more anxious.
The number one rule is: Do what you need to take care of yourself!
Risk taking is vital to career success and
there is never security so get used to risk.
In the span of less than two years a very large spin off of a long established company was halved in terms of revenue. Thousands of jobs were eliminated, whole departments decimated, projects terminated or not started.
The Learning and Development department’s budget was cut so severely that all programs for leaders, managers and employees were threatened.
A very risky situation indeed. One that most people would be thinking about new places to work or alternately putting their head in the sand.
Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone.
We all know when we’re being heard and when we’re not. Some of our colleagues pretend to listen, while some don’t even bother pretending.
Good listeners listen actively and can repeat back the words they hear, but great listeners listen attentively. They are the ones who develop a reputation for being able to hear the unspoken messages that often lurk behind other people’s words.
Too many companies bet on having a cut-throat, high-pressure, take-no-prisoners culture to drive their financial success. But a large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology demonstrates that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line. Although there’s an assumption that stress and pressure push employees to perform more, better, and faster, what cutthroat organizations fail to recognize is the hidden costs incurred.
I’d like to share with you the story of John.
John has not stopped for a long time. He’s always on the go.
After graduating he went from one job to the next. Eventually landing a well-paid corporate job, he worked hard and saved for a home.
He got married, but that didn’t last more than 3 years. After the divorce, he decided to quit his job, sold his home and travelled the world. He kept searching for something - happiness I suppose, but he didn’t say it.
We live in a competitive society where the desire to do better or achieve more than others drives us to take action to attain our goal with a sense
of ensuing pride and pleasure in one’s achievement. The type of motivation is called the Achievement Motive.
Here we’re looking at how the individual orients himself towards objects or conditions that he does not possess. If he values those objects and conditions, and feels he must possess them, then he would strive to perform to acquire them. He may then be regarded as having an achievement motive. For example, a student who values coming first in his class would be driven to work towards his goal and would have an achievement motive.
Julio came to me for coaching because he was getting extremely stressed about his main MBA project. He’d often get completely stuck, making no
progress for days on end, even as the deadline loomed.
As he described what was happening, he told me about the thoughts in his mind at the time:
- "I’m never going to get this done in time”
- “I can’t do this”
- “I’m no good at this subject”
- “I’ll never get my MBA”
With thoughts like this, no wonder he was stressed!
Having been looking at lots of material recently on the subjects of Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, the penny suddenly
All this stuff about self-development and wellbeing - which is said to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, generally making you a more fulfilled person - can all be boiled down to one simple principle...
And in a sense, if you can do this - or at least aspire to it - everything else follows. Simple, but not necessarily easy.
Mindfulness is largely about being aware of the movements of mind. And commonly, when you interrupt normal consciousness to look at what's going on, you'll find plenty of influences taking you away and back to the noise and activity that is so familiar and strangely comfortable.
We live in a fast changing world and I’m willing to bet that there are few people out there who don’t feel the pressures coming at us from all directions. Many don’t like their jobs, others, especially children, feel saddened by the environmental and social crises happening all around us. Despite the prevalence of communication tools and allopathic remedies promising a quick fix to human maladies, we seem to be heading in the opposite direction – that of illness, exhaustion and disconnection. Adding to the cocktail of mental and emotional stress, are heavy pollutants found in our food, air and water.
This post is composed of the Sunday Self-Reflection and the Monday Talk and Guided Practice, two of the three parts of my Mindful Awareness Practice Support Membership (MAPS) from the week of March 20th, 2016. For more information about MAPS Membership please click here.
This Self-Reflection was inspired by a quote I heard a few years back from actress and author Jane Fonda:
"…we are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole."
How did you respond to this quote? What does being perfect mean to you? What does being whole mean to you? When you reflect upon each quality, how does each one make you feel? What thoughts, memories or physical sensations arise? Take some time to reflect upon and/or journal about your experiences, with a spirit of learning and increasing self-awareness.
As a leader, to become more aware of our own participation in our relationships with our team, both as a whole and also with each individual member, requires that we begin to notice the 'position from’ or manner in which we listen – i.e. do we listen passively, actively, blankly, judgmentally, as a potential helper, or in some other way? When listening to anyone (whether leading them or not), if we can begin to notice our own private experience and inner sensations during listening, then we can begin to feel more capable and balanced in how we participate in the relationship and its needs – this helps to make our personal and professional relationships vehicles for increased efficiency and productivity. Mindfulness helps us create these new conditions and behaviors, both internally and within our greater workplace culture.
You’re sitting at your desk at work when you realize that you feel disconnected from yourself, you feel anxious and tense, and your mind is full of
half-formed thoughts. You seem to have lost your presence of mind, your inner equilibrium thrown off.
At such times, a simple exercise in awareness can totally shift the energy and change your perspective. The Mindful Reset can take as long as 10 seconds or one minute to do.
According to neuroscience, our brains are wired to focus on the negative as a survival strategy, so we are more likely to obsess over a snide remark made by a colleague, than we are to focus on a compliment given to us moments later. If we are in physical pain, we are likely to focus intently on what hurts, rather than surrounding parts of the body that are at ease. Since we are wired to judge and focus on the negative, we can find some relief by showing more compassion to ourselves when we recognize this familiar pattern.
Steven C. Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada. An author
of 38 books and more than 540 scientific articles, he has shown in his research how language and thought leads to human suffering, and has developed “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” a powerful
therapy method that is useful in a wide variety of areas. His popular book “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life” was featured in Time Magazine among several other major media outlets and for
a time was the number one best selling self-help book in the United States. Dr. Hayes has been President of several scientific societies and has received several national awards, such as the
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy. www.stevenchayes.com
Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in mindfulness meditation. What is it? If you reduce it to its most basic elements, mindfulness
meditation involves directing attention from thinking to sensory input while sitting, standing, lying down, moving or stretching. Why on earth would anyone want to do that you may
We are increasingly bombarded by information. Often this comes with some kind of attention grabbing sensational story. It could be just an email. It could be a hundred emails. Modern life keeps us busy. Lunch break spent checking social media. There’s a never ending list of things to do. The mind is constantly on the go. If there’s little going on we look for some kind of distraction.