Why You Should Learn To Master Mindfulness
The new mantra in C-Suite is mindfulness. Mindfulness has many practitioners and for good reason. First, it creates sanity in an insane world and secondly, it gives you the tools for real business leadership. Why? Because it helps make you a master of your Self. Suffice to say, there are those who poo-poo the idea of meditation saying that’s it’s overhyped and will interfere with their carnivorous habits. Finally, they add “if my grandmother had wheels, she’s be a wagon“.
Let me share with you some of the reasons to practice mindfulness.
One of the best reasons to engage in this practice is the following poem by Zen master Ryokan.
I must go there today
Tomorrow the plum blossoms
Ryokan was a pretty eccentric character, which already is reason to love him. He was renowned for his beautiful verse as well as his calligraphy. What his practice shows us is how to transcend artifice and present spontaneous expressions of pure spirit to those we work with, live with, and most importantly to our own being. When you examine your own life, what do you see? Joy and sadness. Pleasure and pain. Love and loneliness. Illusion and evil. To get to the root of our goodness, we need to go deep inside to find peace of mind. Meditation is the superhighway to take us there. It puts us back in touch with that simple teaching Jesus tried to share with the Pharisees when they demanded to know who he was. Unfortunately, the Pharisees suffered from a hearing disability. You don’t need to be a Christian to get this. It is universal and the birthright of all who breath on this planet. He quietly responded, “I am”.
“Because you love the sound of one hand clapping…”
Start mindfulness now
Close your eyes. Sit in a full lotus if possible. If not just sit in a chair spine erect or lie down in a straight position. Repeat to your self, “I am” to the sound of your breath. In Sanskrit, this is referred to as “So Ham”, the original and most powerful of mantras. For the uninitiated, a mantra is a divine sound vibration activating your own physical form. Without breath, your physical form would cease to function. It’s this energy which gives you resilience.
Now before you go pour yourself another bourbon ‘n branch water, recognize that every soul faces stress. How we manage this stress is determined by our state of mind. However, it is impossible to control the mind because in essence your self sits behind your mind in silence waiting for you to make contact without language. Stilling the mind is the reason normal people as well as sages meditate. The immediate effects of continual practice are calm, focus, and connection to being.
“Because life is more than rock ‘n roll hoochie coo…”
· Calm is your original state of being. Mindfulness puts you back in the driver’s seat when under emotional and stressful situations. Here’s another classic gem by Ryokan to make you laugh:
The mountain village;
Swallowed up by
A chorus of croaking frogs!
Don’t you just love this one. When I read this I was cackling like a hyena. Croaking frogs indeed. Sounds like some of meetings I recently attended.
· Focus. Mindfulness strengthens concentration, and will keep you from getting distracted from the tasks at hand. Recognize there is always something going on around you to make your mind jump like a monkey. Unless you are Hanuman, this is not a good idea. Hanuman was the jokester-in-chief to Lord Rama. So why did Lord Rama love Hanuman so much? Because Lord Rama knew that Hanuman was always focused in a state of oneness and being.
Some colleagues ask me how do I handle the stress of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking doesn’t mean that you do 100 things simultaneously. What it does mean is that you manage your time efficiently and remain focused on the essentials as you are doing one thing at a time with mindfulness.
· Connection. A close brother of mindfulness is love. “Do you know what love is?” to quote the great jazz flutist, Eric Dolphy. Listen to this masterpiece and you will discover love is a state of consciousness. It has nothing to do with having a passion for chocolate. When you treat each human encounter as you would like to be treated you are on the right road. Kindness costs nothing. It creates great vibes and lets you and everyone around you accomplish more. When I coach people one of the comments that comes up most when describing what they like about great managers and business leadership traits is…kindness. This term can be defined by your ability to show compassion and respect with dignity.
So is mindfulness the key to greater success?
You bet it is. It relieves stress, helps you make more friends, and enables you to bond with people in meaningful relationships. Have you forgotten that the basic component of business leadership is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is about compassion. You do not need to be the Buddha and use mindfulness to increase your self-awareness. However, should you decide to walk this path you will inspire others through positive actions.
Learning to meditate is easy. Although there are countless techniques and practices, use the one previously mentioned in this post. It is simple and requires no investment. When you do so, do this in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Early morning and before retiring are best. Set aside 30 minutes. Repeat to your self, “I am” with each breath. Every time you loose focus, gently guide your mind back to its source which lies in the center of your chest and is known by those who practice Yoga as the heart chakra.
Although this technique appears simplistic, it is not as easy as it appears (in the beginning). Your mind will want to jump like a monkey, trying to manipulate your thoughts. The mind is great at this game and holds no prisoners. But once, you know, and I mean truly know that you are not your mind, and that the mind is just a tool, you will overcome this tendency. Remember, do not try to control your breath, just watch your breath. At first, meditation will appear to you like an exercise. Soon you will discover that mindfulness is not a burden but a great joy. May you revel in your own being.
Who knows, maybe one day you will write poems like this one:
Who says my poems are poems?
My poems are not poems.
When you know that my poems are not poems,
Then we can speak of poetry. – Ryokan
What role does mindfulness play in your life?
Share with us your comments on this business practice.
About the author
Andrew Scharf shares provocative ideas on the topics of leadership, innovation, talent development, and coaching. He is also an award winning career advisor and the Head Koi at CAREO, a division of Whitefield Consulting Worldwide. If you would like to learn how to balance your professional objectives with your personal aspirations, contact Whitefield Consulting Worldwide for further counsel.
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