This question came up recently during a Twelve Mindful Months class I lead weekly and it is a common concern. Mindfulness is the new buzz word in the media, as evidenced by the many articles boasting the benefits of the practice – increased productivity, decreased stress and healthcare costs – to corporations such as Aetna and General Mills and teams such as the Seattle Sea Hawks. But in other articles, the media tends to sensationalize mindfulness as a blissful state with photographs of models meditating with peaceful smiles and faraway gazes, so it’s not surprising that business people have doubts.
Mindfulness is not passive, but active. In business it sharpens your edge. Instead of dulling your senses, it heightens your awareness of them. Through the practice of breath awareness you develop patience, which enables you to sit with what is happening in the present moment. You slow down, but not so you can’t make quick responses. The pause you are able to create allows you to respond intelligently rather than react. To not be swayed by emotions. Not meekness or complacency but self-regulation and wisdom. That’s personal power. So yes – you can, as a mindful business person or leader, be attentive to the needs of others while keeping an eye on the big picture, the bottom line.
Two books Finding the Space to Lead, by Janice Marturano (2014) and Mindful Work, How Meditation Is changing Business From the Inside Out, by David Gelles (2015) bear the data if you wish to learn more. Adrianna Huffington sums up the adoption of mindfulness by corporate America: “Stress reduction and mindfulness don’t just make us happier and healthier, they’re a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one.” Increased attention span, improved concentration and memory, less emotional reactivity, and the ability to stay calm amidst stress are benefits of mindfulness that help create winning teams, whether in the boardroom or on the playing field. And the added bonus is the skills also help improve personal relationships in the game of life. And that’s a win-win. Give mindfulness a try. Be the change in your world – business or otherwise.
Photography by Carol Tibbetts. To learn more about mindfulness read “Twelve Mindful Months: Cultivating a Balanced & Fit Body, Mind & Spirit” by Carol Tibbetts