Mindfulness is the hottest topic in business leadership today, for great reason.
Mindfulness vs. Meditation
Before you jump to the end of the article where I'll teach you one kind of meditation I practice aiding in my vitality, we need to examine key differences between mindfulness and meditation. In today's Instagram world of yoga, people lose sight of the healing roots yoking the two.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware. Mindful leaders are aware of everything, because it matters - primal body language from facial expressions to crossed-arms in team meetings, energy levels in the room, physical fitness routines, and their internal care-O-meter allowing them to extend empathy to an employee dealing with personal struggles as they understand part of employment is helping people navigate their journey called life. The ability to respond, react, or abstain from engaging in the use of energy is found through mindfulness.
Meditation was first recorded from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism around 1500BCE - way before western medicine bought in around recent. The Vedas - Sanskrit for wisdom - are among the oldest sacred texts; each Veda emphasizes different rituals, hymns, or spiritual retreats in nature. As religion developed, Buddhists led a new view of meditation found in enlightenment spurring Christians and others to develop their own form of self-discovery. Today, there are over one hundred styles of meditation. Let's look at some - You can meditate walking quietly on the beach breathing in and out with each step, you can practice karma meditation by washing your partner's car pouring love into each scrub, or you can try sitting meditation for ten days in silence every year as a time to deepen your awareness beyond a sore butt. Simply put, meditation is the act of doing something with clear intention. Secular meditation in business emphasizes self-improvement, growth, and relaxation.
Science Simplified. How Meditation Works for Everyone
Your brain is a highway of electrical activity, hormones, and stop lights that move your life forward or cause toxins to build-up overtime stopping it. Mindfulness Meditation re-wires the neural pathways in your brain. Simply explained, it re-paves potholes formed from stress. Like our roads, these pathways get paved over if we do the work to lay the foundation and continue the maintenance, even in the best of times. Without it, the old road re-appears with even bigger sinkholes.
5 Simple Steps to Start Your Mindfulness Meditation Today
Find a quiet place where you feel safe and at peace. I find that my Bose noise cancelling earphones do the trick, opening up more opportunities to meditate throughout my day. Sit in a position where you won't fall asleep or have discomfort during 20 minutes of silence. Pull up Insight Timer and set your timer with a pleasant kangse bell to start and finish. Fix your eyes on something calming nearby - more to come.
Place your hands in the receiving position on your lap - palms up facing the sky. You can do the finger touching like Buddha if you're really down!Set your intention for the next 20 minutes. Remember, nothing else in life matters right now. Trust me and the process. Ask your higher power, the universe, or whatever you believe in outside yourself to speak to you giving you insight and clarity. Repeat these words and fill in the blank "Dear ____, Thank you for all that is wonderful and abundant in my life. I need to see _______ clearly today and am asking for your help. Please speak to me throughout this day as I lead myself and others."
Close your eyes. Take one giant deep exhale letting out all the negative energy and breathe in your first deep breath of radiant life energy. Take the first few minutes to think about what you want to bring into your life and what it is you need to let go. Then apply the following mantra "Breathing in I feel [insert positive, e.g. I feel happy] then take a deep breath in; as you exhale, say Breathing out I release [negative feeling, e.g. I release all worry]." Keep breathing and believing in what you are saying. Your mind will race, so tell it to shut-up as you keep breathing in and releasing. Remember, you have a timer set for 20 minutes - part of your growth requires focusing on things, and this is one of the healthiest things you can focus on.
Breathe easy and slowly expand your belly bringing more and more oxygen up to the highest point of your lungs. Your image is the masterpiece of tons of tiny cells that depend on oxygen every second you're focused elsewhere.When the final bell sounds, take four more deep breaths before rushing out of your meditation - remember, you'll never get this time or these breaths ever again, so make them count. Slowly re-open your eyes to the nice site you found before starting.
Take a moment to write down how you feel, what thoughts you observed throughout the 20 minutes, and anything profound on how you plan to live your life, starting now.
Everyday I meditate, my life becomes clearer and clearer each moment allowing me to truly understand what wise men called the gift of the present moment. Before each meeting, I set my intention, I think about the lives sitting before me, I consider every stakeholder, and I know that every challenge before me can be met with slow deep breaths to stay mindful on why we exist. What is your experience with mindfulness or meditation? I'd love to hear your comments in the space below.