In last week’s blog post we explored the importance of mindfulness for successful living. The happiest and most successful people are those who develop their social and emotional intelligence, have finely tuned self-knowledge and self-awareness, and who value their relationships. All of these skills can be honed through mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation has long been practiced by those seeking calm and peace of mind. A Buddhist-trained HR professional, Michael Carroll encourages stressed-out executives to meditate to become more open and, consequently, more effective.
In his book, The Mindful Leader: Awakening Your Natural Management Skills Through Mindfulness Meditation (2008), Carroll explores the key principles of mindfulness.
- How to heal toxic workplace cultures where anxiety and stress impede creativity and performance.
- How to cultivate courage and confidence in spite of workplace difficulties and economic recession.
- How to pursue organizational goals without neglecting what’s happening here and now.
- How to lead with wisdom and gentleness, not only with ambition, relentless drive and power.
- How a personal meditation practice develops your innate leadership talents.
Many workplaces are adopting mindfulness meditation:
Companies like Raytheon, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nortel Networks, Comcast and law firms offer employees classes in mindfulness meditation.
Executives like Bill Ford Jr., Michael Stephen, former chairman of Aetna International, Robert Shapiro, ex-CEO of Monsanto, and Michael Rennie, of McKinsey & Co., consider meditation beneficial to running a corporation.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Recent research highlights the many benefits of mindfulness meditation:
- Repaired immune system
- Heightened emotional intelligence
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Sustained levels of joy and satisfaction
- Greater resilience
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Fewer days lost to illness and stress
But practicing mindfulness requires much…well, practice. It demands vulnerability and heart, rather than ambition and achievement – a tall order for many hard-driving, results-oriented people.
How to Practice Meditation
In brief, mindfulness meditation is a friendly gesture toward ourselves, in which we take time to sit still and focus on breath for 10–25 minutes or longer. You can meditate in your office, sitting in your chair. Here are some essential guidelines:
- Sit upright – relaxed, yet alert.
- Close your eyes or maintain a soft, relaxed, downward gaze.
- Place hands palms down, resting gently.
- Tuck in your chin.
- Breathe normally.
- Observe your thoughts gently, without judgment.
- Label your thoughts as “thinking” and dismiss them. Let them go.
- Return your focus to your being, breathing and bodily sensations.
- Be still.
- Experience being you in the moment – in the now.