Mindfulness has recently become the latest buzz word in the west and with its increasing popularity the practice has moved from meditation and yoga carried out by monks and hippies to the latest phenomenon, the centuries old notion of 'being in the now' has far evolved beyond a new-age philosophy.
As one of the hottest topics of discussion at this year's world economic forum Mindfulness has fast become mainstream and now labelled as the next 'must have business skill', the NHS, Transport for London, Intel, Apple and Google are just a few examples of organisations that are fostering principles amongst its employees.
It's no wonder that in today's round-the-clock culture our brains get exhausted, we're constantly 'doing' and checking off our 'to-do list', overwhelmed with information overload and obsessed with being better and faster to yield higher results than we did yesterday. Many of us can be so focused on the future of our business and our day that we avoid being fully engaged in the present moment and can devote less time to activities that recharge our batteries.
If you find yourself:
- Rushing from one place to another
- Paying more attention to your iPhone than the people around you
- Having no recollection of your daily commute
- Unable to remember what others said during conversations
- Dwelling on events from the past or worrying about the future
- Eating at your desk and not really tasting your food
- Zoning out on a regular basis
Chances are, like many you're practising 'mindlessness' with long term effects said to cause impulsive decisions, stifled creativity, increased stress levels and depression. With effects such as these it's no wonder that mindfulness has morphed into the latest craze.
So what exactly is mindfulness? In simple terms mindfulness means the practice of awareness, practising mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment and ones thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental way. The result of doing so is said to increase resilience and emotional intelligence, improve communication and reduce the effects of stress and anxiety, essentially mindfulness is a practice that's scientifically proven to help us flip the switch back to the smart parts of our brain to put us back in control of our emotions and create more conscious decisions.
The benefits of doing so have helped people to cope with change and uncertainty, avoid scattered thinking, increased people's ability to respond rather than react, strengthened the muscle of resilience, allowed room for clear thinking, boosted happiness, and increased energy levels. As a result employees have become more productive and creative with a higher likelihood to perceive challenges as opportunities rather than threats.
Recent research at the institute of mindful leadership found that for 93% of leaders surveyed, practising mindfulness helped them create space for innovation. Some 89% said it enhanced their ability to listen to themselves and others, and nearly 70% said it helped them think strategically. Mindfulness is a practice that seems to hold promise for returning balance, increased self-management and more self-awareness for business leaders.
So how does a novice that's always on the go and doesn't have practice 'ancient Buddhist techniques' on the top of their to-do list, go about implementing this into their daily schedule?
Some suggested techniques from 'experts' include:
- Taking deep breaths at regular intervals throughout the day
- Going for a walk and getting out of the office for at least 15 minutes each day
- Eating in silence and tuning into the sense of taste whilst eating
- Being present with the people around you
- Detaching from your phone addiction.
From factory floors to executive suites, there's no denying that 'mindfulness' is transforming the way we lead our organisations and lifestyles, and with all its benefits can we really afford to miss out on our chance of reaching enlightenment in the boardroom?
Join me and take part in a 30 day mindfulness challenge. Together lets experiment to find fun, innovative and convenient ways to incorporate mindfulness as a part of our daily practice; I'd be interested to share the benefits it creates. To take part simply register yourself and your friends here