Mindfulness in Business

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular topic among business leaders, with several key executives speaking publicly in recent months about how it helps them improve the bottom line. Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, in a blog post last month, wrote that “there’s nothing touchy-feely about increased profits. This is a tough economy… Stress-reduction and mindfulness don’t just make us happier and healthier, they’re a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one.” But by focusing on the bottom-line benefits of mindfulness, are business leaders corrupting the core Buddhist practice?

Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), is the 87-year-old Zen master considered by many to be the father of mindfulness in the west, says as long as business leaders practice “true” mindfulness, it does not matter if the original intention is triggered by wanting to be more effective at work or to make bigger profits. That is because the practice will fundamentally change their perspective on life as it naturally opens hearts to greater compassion and develops the desire to end the suffering of others.

Sitting in a lotus position on the floor of his monastery at Plum Village near Bordeaux, France, Thay went on to say: “If you know how to practice mindfulness you can generate peace and joy right here, right now. And you’ll appreciate that and it will change you. In the beginning, you believe that if you cannot become number one, you cannot be happy, but if you practice mindfulness you will readily release that kind of idea. We need not fear that mindfulness might become only a means and not an end because in mindfulness the means and the end are the same thing. There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.”

But Thay, as the Zen master is known to his hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, points out that if executives are in the practice for selfish reasons, then they are experiencing a mere pale shadow of mindfulness.

“If you consider mindfulness as a means of having a lot of money, then you have not touched its true purpose,” he says. “It may look like the practise of mindfulness but inside there’s no peace, no joy, no happiness produced. It’s just an imitation. If you don’t feel the energy of brotherhood, of sisterhood, radiating from your work, that is not mindfulness.” As he puts it: “If you’re happy, you cannot be a victim of your happiness. But if you’re successful, you can be a victim of your success.”

Perhaps the most interesting intersection in the business world is between mindfulness and technology, as they appear to pull in opposite directions. The practice is all about slowing down and emptying the mind, while the digital revolution is speeding up our lives and filling our heads with vast quantities of information. Despite this, they have a long history together. One example was Apple CEO Steve Jobs fascination by Zen Buddhism. Other business leaders who practise mindfulness include Intermix CEO Khajak Keledjian, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, to name just a few.

Mindfulness has been linked for decades to the Californian lifestyle, where many technology companies are based. So it is no great surprise that Thay, who has sold more than 2 million books in the US, was invited to Silicon Valley by Google and was also asked to lead a private day of mindfulness for CEOs of 15 of the world’s most powerful technology companies.

Thay’s core message to the tech leaders he met was to use their global influence to focus on how they can contribute to making the world a better place, rather than on making as much money as possible. He and a group of monastics spent a day at Google’s headquarters, spending time with the senior management as well as leading around 700 employees through mindfulness discussions and sitting and walking meditation. So many staff wanted to take part that the company had to open up two additional locations to live stream his lecture.

Thay speaks of the sharp contrast between the normal frenetic pace of work at the technology giant and the sense of peace that came from sitting in silence during his day of mindfulness on the Googleplex campus. “The atmosphere was totally different,” he says. “There’s a silence, there’s a peace that comes from doing nothing. And in that space, they can realise the preciousness of time.”

During his visit, which was themed “intention, innovation, insight”, Thay met a number of senior Google engineers to discuss how the company can use technology to be more compassionate and effective in bringing positive change to the world, rather than increasing people’s stress and isolation, both from each other and from nature.

When they create electronic devices, they can reflect on whether that new product will take people away from themselves, their family and nature,” he says. “Instead they can create the kind of devices and software that can help them to go back to themselves, to take care of their feelings. By doing that, they will feel good because they’re doing something good for society.

At the day-long retreat with the CEOs, Thay led a silent meditation and offered a Zen tea ceremony before talking to the group of largely billionaires about how important it is that they, as individuals, resist being consumed by work at the expense of time with their families: “Time is not money,” he told them. “Time is life, time is love.”

Back at his Plum Village monastery, near Bordeaux, Thay says of his trip: “In all the visits, I told them they have to conduct business in such a way that happiness should be possible for everyone in the company. What is the use of having more money if you suffer more? They also should understand that if they have a good aspiration, they become happier because helping society to change gives life a meaning.”

The trip was just the beginning, he adds. “I think we planted a number of seeds and it will take time for the seeds to mature,” he says. “If they begin to practise mindfulness, they’ll experience joy, happiness, transformation, and they can fix for themselves another kind of aspiration. Fame and power and money cannot really bring true happiness compared to when you have a way of life that can take care of your body and your feelings.”

Phone 0418 864 162 for information about Mindfulness in Business. Talking to groups is what I do best. A mindful business is happier, safer and more productive! Mindfully Yours with Love & Respect ~ John

Shaping the Future

Conference Earth

I have accepted an invitation to be a keynote speaker at Conference Earth – Shaping the Future. I have named my talk ‘The Mindful Way’ and it happens at noon on Friday 15th August. I will tell my story, conduct a guided meditation and share my vision. This is a copy of the e-mail from Dr Michael Ellis which explains what this important conference is all about; I have also added the vision of the Global Peace Centre for your information:-

Dear John

We would consider it a great privilege if you would agree to be a keynote speaker at our  live conference at one of Australia`s Premier  Universities, Deakin University, Melbourne, 15-17 August, called Shaping The Future Global –A new Image of Humanity.

As stated below, our first patron and friend was Sir Mark Oliphant who was a founder member of Pugwash Group with physicists Albert Einstein, Heisenberg and Niels Bohr. He was recruited by the Americans as part of the Manhattan Project, a race against the Germans to make the atomic bomb. After the bomb, Sir Mark became a lifelong campaigner against nuclear deterrence and from then onwards devoted himself to Global Peace.

Our emphasis will be on the dictum of Einstein who said that for humankind to survive we will need a substantially new manner of thinking and Vaclav Havel who said we will need a massive change in consciousness if we are to survive. This is following on the live internet Global Streaming Conference — Shaping the Future Global conference held In 2012 December 1-2 and 8-9 ..

Shaping The Future is dealing with Global Health and environmental sustainability, education, the role of the internet, Human rights and social justice seeing all these factors as interrelated.

The events are produced by, me, Dr Michael Ellis, Founder and President, Global Peace Centre, with our Australian team of event organisers and producers and media experts. We will continue this event as a projected series of Global webinars with the assistance of our international coordinator Dr JJ Hurtak.

Human dignity and security, climate change, human rights, and nuclear disarmament, have elements of transnational global health components and are related to Global health and Peace.

Dr JJ Hurtak and Dr Desiree Hurtak (The Academy for Future Science) will be amongst many other distinguished speakers and visionaries including Dr Bahjat Batarseh, Jordanian Apostle/Prophet, Niran Jiang (Founding partner and Director of the Institute of Human Excellence), Professor Avni Sali (Founder and Head of National Institute of Integrative Medicine), Dr A T Ariyaratne (Founder Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka), Dr Sue Wareham (OAM, The Medical Association for Prevention of War) and Dr Michael Jackson (Futurist, Chairman of Shaping Tomorrow

The purpose of this conference is to explore the new image of Humanity.

Our first conference was held at Melbourne University in 1995 and had national and international media coverage. Our founder patron was Sir Mark Oliphant, father of Australian Science and former Governor of South Australia. Since that time we have developed a large international network of key international speakers and thinkers on the complex issue of environmental sustainability and peace issues.

Our Shaping The Future Global –A new Image of Humanity will seek new ways of thinking and behaving that will eliminate the use or threat of violence as an instrument of policy in international relations and the exploitation of the environment for short-term gains.

In particular we seek to give our delegates the opportunity to understand how each person can be a change agent no only empowering themselves but also the local and Global community to new ways of cooperation and mutual understanding.

Shaping the Future Global reveals the real state of affairs on this planet as well as the solutions which are based on a new cartography of not only the physical nature of the human Being but also a new understanding of the Human spirit.

Kindest Regards

Warmest Wishes

Michael

Dr Michael Ellis MB BS, MRCP, DCH, BA (Hons)

President of Global Peace Centre

Mobile 0414543397

www.peacecentre.org

http://www.shapingthefutureglobal.org/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/globalpeacecentre

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed — be it ecological, social, demographic or a general breakdown of civilization — will be unavoidable “  Vaclav Havel , former President of Czechoslovakia.

The vision of The Global Peace Centre is to contribute towards the creation of a Planetary Peace Culture looking to life and common humanism as the core values for a sustainable society.

During the last few decades, a radical change has occurred in humanity’s awareness of itself. In simple terms, we have, over the millennia, translated ourselves from “oneness to aloneness”. The truth is that all life on the planet is connected. Our initiative attempts to understand what we have become and illuminates our future potential.

Humankind has reached a state of development in which old modes of thinking and behaving threaten to destroy our planet.

Those of us who are dedicated to the preservation of life must play a prominent part in this revolution, which calls for a substantial change in our manner of thinking. On social, environmental and health fronts we are confronting a critical transition. We are facing the results of an epistemology which focuses on material and rational values, human supremacy and competition for domination. Will this transition be into chaos and destruction or will it be into the new paradigm based on spiritual, ecological connectedness and cooperation.

The Global Peace Centre is based on a paradigm similar to that of wholistic health. The planet is a living entity because it has on it a meshwork of life that maintains itself on a reciprocal basis. This is similar to the Gaia Hypothesis of James Lovelock. Conference Earth takes into account the latest advances in science and thought. It is looking at the latest advances in quantum physics, in consciousness, in psycho technologies and in the power of the mind to heal.

The key to change and economic success is not concentration on economic growth per se – we live on a finite planet which is undergoing the destruction of its living and non-living resources. We feel the key to transformation is a greater emphasis on education and health and the enhancement of inner wealth – rather than the acquisition of more and more material wealth at the expense of quality of life for all humanity. We feel that ’healing and relationships’ are the keys to the problems not only of Australia but of the world.

Our emphasis is innovation, viewing entrenched problems from a new perspective and deriving practical answers rather than just talking.

Positive Psychology

Perspective

In simple terms, positive psychology focuses on what’s working rather than on what’s not working; it asks what’s right rather than what’s wrong; the emphasis is on utilising strengths instead of fixing weaknesses (although please note; positive psychology doesn’t ignore faults, weaknesses and limitations. It accepts that we all have these but that as much as possible, our efforts and energies should be mostly, on using what we’re already good at).

We can sum up the core components of positive psychology that contribute to happiness and success in the following acronym. We believe that achieving happiness requires nothing more than practicing a few simple disciplines each and every day and to practice these disciplines we need to constantly make the right choices. So, next time you’re making a choice remember that “choose” is not just a philosophy of taking responsibility but also, a mnemonic that stands for:
C = Clarity
Clarity refers to your goals, direction and purpose in life. Happy people set goals that are much more clearly defined. They more actively and effectively determine clear and specific plans to ensure these goals become reality. So, set aside some time to clarify your life plan as soon as possible because if you don’t do it, no one else will do it for you!
H = Healthy Living
Healthy living is about activity and exercise, diet and nutrition and sleep. Health forms a crucial part of the foundation to happiness. It’s hard to be happy if you’re literally sick and tired all the time. So, although you don’t have to turn vegan and/or run marathons, do whatever you can to be healthy (by eating well, exercising and ensuring you gain adequate sleep and rest) and you’ll also boost your chances of being happy.
O = Optimism
Optimism refers to positive but realistic thinking. There’s no doubt that happy people think about themselves, others and the world around them differently. Among other things, they search for more positives although they also face up to cold, hard realities in a constructive way. The good news is that this is something you can learn to do so start practicing now – look around you for what’s good and look at what you can actively do to fix what’s not so good.
O = Others
When we consider others, we are considering the key relationships in your life. Research strongly indicates that happy people have both more and better quality relationships. Happiness is not a solo sport; it’s a team effort. Make sure you devote time to developing and fostering your key relationships because other people matter and compassion, thoughtfulness, caring and consideration of others are key to real and meaningful happiness.
S = Strengths
The “S” for strengths represents your core qualities and attributes. Rather than spending all their time trying to “fix” their “weaknesses”, happy people spend more time identifying and utilising their strengths. So quite simply, stop asking “what’s wrong and how can I fix it” quite so often and start asking “what’s right and how can I do more of it”. Find out what you’re good at (your inner attributes and positive qualities) and do it as much as possible in as many ways as possible.
E = Enjoy the moment
Finally, enjoying the moment is about living in and appreciating the present. The past is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and today’s a gift – that’s why they call it “the present”. Live in the moment and enjoy life more; learn from the past but look to the future and ask, “What can I do now?” Practice appreciation and gratitude by focusing more on what you have and less on what you don’t have.

So there it is, a brief overview of positive psychology or what is sometimes referred to as the science of happiness. If there were one message I’d like you to walk away with it would be that happiness is very much achievable! No matter who you are and what you do, no matter what your background or your current context, you can all learn to live lives with more happiness. We can all become happier. We can’t change the past and we can’t control all that happens to us but we can CHOOSE how we respond to what happens and as a result, we can (at least partially) determine our future!

Many Thanks to Dr Tim Sharp for this post. (The Happiness Institute)
Love, Laughter & Be Mindful Always! ~ John

Mindful Actions

 

Mindful Actions

My FREE eStory ‘Meds to Mindfulness’ is now available by sending an e-mail to: bemindful@outlook.com.au Be inspired by my story. It begins in 1982 when I died in a truck smash and was revived. Fifteen years of ups and downs and mental suffering followed. Medications and even shock treatment was given, none of which had any lasting benefits. Read how I became awake in 1997 and stepped from the darkness into the light. Follow my journey as childhood dreams came true and I started living with purpose and passion. Learn how I started my mindfulness practice in 2009 and now live in a state of enlightenment and peace. Only 20-30 minutes reading time…

Mindful Actions is my upcoming book which will take you on a journey exploring and practising the many aspects of mindfulness, without meditation. Mindful Actions is designed to take 3-6 months to read; five minutes at a time every 3-7 days. It will be a roadmap to practising mindful awareness and will help guide you through the process of self discovery, waking up and connecting fully with yourself and all those around you!

Mindful Actions is being published by Balboa Press (Division of Hay House) and will be available in November, 2014 at a very reasonable price. If you would like to be informed when it is ready, send an e-mail to: bemindful@outlook.com.au

Stay Positive. Stay Present. Stay Strong. Stay Smiling. Love, Laughter & Be Mindful Always! ~ John

Mindful May

Mindful ActionI will be sharing different aspects of Mindfulness daily throughout May. I will also be sharing thoughts and appropriate quotes, both from myself and other Mindfulness experts. My goal is to raise awareness of the power in being mindful, especially for those who are suffering mentally. Please feel welcome to suggest a ‘Mindful Action’ based on one of the following aspects.
  • Happiness
  • Be Mindful
  • You are Not Your Thoughts!
  • Open Mind
  • Beliefs
  • Awareness
  • Practice
  • Notice with Curiosity
  • Attention
  • Judgements
  • Letting Go
  • Acceptance
  • Focus on Values
  • Commitment
  • Action
  • Listening
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • Attitude
  • Connect
  • Dream
  • Purpose
  • Awake
  • Peace & Hope
  • Love & Kindness
  • Relationship
  • One Love

At the end of May, I will be evaluating what everyone has to share and turning that into an eBook called Mindful Actions. I am hoping the eBook will be ready by July.

4,500 have joined Mindfulness Day. Why not join and invite a friend!

Much Love, Many Thanks & Mindfully Yours – John

FB Logo

27 Mindful Actions in May

Try M Day

Wow! What an excellent response to Mindfulness Day. Thank you!

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive and present with those around you and with what you are doing. Mindfulness is the best hope for the world to overcome mental suffering and is part of all therapies used in treating ‘mental illness’ today. The 1st Sunday in May is Mindfulness Day and is also the launch of ‘Mindful May’. Winter follows May in Australia which is the prime time for depression & suicide. It is Free to attend this Awesome Awareness Event. If we work together, maybe this could go global. Please Share!

Sunday 4th May is the launch of Mindful May and the first Mindful Action on that day is to spend time with your best friend and talk about the benefits of mindfulness. What about posting a selfie with your mindful comment on the event wall?

I will post a Mindful Action daily until the 31st May. That’s 27 days of practising mindfulness. This is where I need your help. I do ok on my own but together, we can make a huge difference! Please e-mail your suggestions. bemindful@outlook.com.au

Jump on board! It’s gunna be a great ride!

Love & Laughter Always! – John

Thank you

Mindfulness Day

In Your Mind

 

A recent article in the local newspaper.

It’s International Day of Happiness on 20th March, 2014. When you practice Mindfulness, happiness becomes an automatic choice. That is one of the reasons I have launched an awareness event on facebook called Mindfulness Day.

About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive and present with those around you and with what you are doing. Mindfulness is the best hope for the world to overcome mental suffering and is part of all therapies used in treating ‘mental illness’ today.

About Mindfulness Day

The 1st Sunday in May is Mindfulness Day and is also the launch of ‘Mindful May‘ which ends 31st May, 2014. Following May are the 3 months of winter in Australia which is the prime time for depression & suicide. It is Free to attend this Awesome Awareness Event. Send me an e-mail  to receive my Free eStory ‘Meds to Mindfulness‘. You will be Inspired to then tell your story! Please feel welcome to our online awareness event; Mindfulness Day 4th May, 2014.

Mental Promise

This is part of my mental health promise to help people go from meds to mindfulness. Please support & help me to help others…help others! Love & Gratitude Always! – John

Birds Eye View

Birds Eye View

This blog written by Christine Fowle.

Imagine you were a bird. Perched in a tree, peering through your bird-eyes at the world. You have no cultural identification nor ever think of your past or entertain any inclinations to plan a future. The vast landscape requires no labels. Tall branches provide comfort and shelter. Nature provides nourishment. There is no good or bad, only varying sensations. Sunlight, wind, rain, snow — terrestrial elements unfolding naturally without judgment; only instinct guiding your way. Your bird-self maintains no sense of possession over the little-bitty birds that have long since fled the nest, nor ownership of the tree you’re perched in. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings from the neighbouring branch, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.

Have you ever touched the moment?

Would you like to try?

Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Upon opening your eyes, slowly scan the room, taking in as many details as you can, noticing colours, textures, shapes and sounds. There is no need to label them. Simply notice. Now, when you are done, look at your hand, extend your index finger and touch the tip of your nose.

This is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the process by which momentary engagement is developed. It’s not a technique to bestow rapture or bliss but it is a method of discovering peace. Our six sense doors (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch, and thought) are the means by which we experience the world. The first of the five senses are merely the methods by which the brain receives data. It is the mind that however, that evaluates and tosses the tinted cloth over the experience labelling it as something.

Mindfulness is the constant focus and re-focusing — moment to moment to moment, on the object of our awareness. If listening, we focus on listening; if putting on shoes, we focus on putting on our shoes. This means directing full awareness upon the object of attention: the feeling of the sock on the foot, the sound made sliding the foot into the shoe, the pliancy of the fabric, the sensation of the toe slipping along the bottom…

Momentary engagement is not a misnomer. As science has taught us, all objects in the universe are bundles of energy vibrating at varying frequencies. Nothing is static. From moment to moment to moment everything in our world is changing. Mindfulness swings opens the gate of focused awareness supporting our engagement. It helps us to be more detailed employees, better friends and attentive parents. Developing this skill weaves a translucent thread of lucidity throughout the fabric of our existence. But most importantly, it opens the doors to be the fullest expression of ourselves, inviting in authentic aspects of our being that we haven’t connected with in a very long time.

The steps for developing mindfulness are deceptively simple. Execution however, does not come without its complications. The challenge lies within the realm of our thoughts, the single most distracting element to our experience of the current moment. We are forever pulled into reflections of the past, dreams of the future and into the application of those colourful tags of judgment.

The process can be misleading, as it is not the silencing of our thoughts that opens the door to engagement. It is momentary engagement that is the key to silencing our thoughts. By focusing intently upon the task at hand there is no room for discursive thinking to populate the quiet space in our mind. Judgment ceases and for the moment, we can just be.

Mindfulness is not a permanent state of awareness. It is an ongoing process that develops the richness of our experience because of our ability to be within the frame of the current moment without our thoughts getting in the way. It is a skill that can be practiced every second of every day — and just like meditation, willnot be developed simply by reading about it.

Once we have touched the moment, even if only briefly, it is an experience worth savoring. Perhaps at first, it is only for fractions of a second, but with practice this grows into minutes, eventually enriching every aspect of our life-experience. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.

This blog written by Christine Fowle. Additional essays may be found on her website, Searching For OM. Love & Laughter Always! – John

The Mindful (R)evolution

Search Inside

5 reasons why Mindfulness is our biggest hope for Organizational and Social Change.

“The quality of our attention determines the quality of our results”, argues Otto Scharmer, a renowned senior MIT lecturer, writer and organizational consultant (and I believe a future Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences). In a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) everyone is demanding more and better results, but what we normally see happening is the opposite. Our hyper-connected and high-speed living is making us, human beings, more and more stressed, superficial and struggling to deliver “those” better results. Moreover, we are collectively creating results that nobody wants, putting in jeopardy our health (there are 3 times more people dying in the world because of suicide than murderer, war and natural disasters combined), our society (there are 2.5 billion people living below the poverty line) and our planet (we are consuming on average 1.5 planet Earth while, of course, we only have one).

So, how can we then invert this tendency? How can we help people to rescue their awareness? How can we create a “new world”, one that is more healthy, more equitable, and more eco-friendly? How can we collectively create conditions for each human being to manifest their Self (with capital S) and their Work (with capital W), contributing, in that way, to a better world for all of us?

I really believe that the answer lies in a technique that is over 2.500 years old: mindfulness meditation.

“Wait a minute”, you may be thinking, “are you saying that the problems of the world can be solved by “doing nothing”?”. Before you think I’m crazy and stop reading, please bear with me for just a few more lines.

Mindfulness is now a mainstream movement reaching several spheres of our society.

As I’m writing this text (Feb 2014) Mindfulness is reaching a tipping point in western society, appearing exclusively on the cover of TIME magazine, with the title of “The Mindful Revolution”. From a practice that some years ago was only restricted to some religious, “new age” or esoteric groups, it is now being used in different “mainstream” arenas like:

–       science (e.g. neurosciences, interpersonal neurobiology, epigenetics);

–       health (e.g. Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital);

–       corporations (e.g. Google, General Mills and even the US Army);

–       leadership (e.g. Bill George – Medtronic’s CEO; Steve Jobs – Apple’s ex-CEO; Arianna Huffington – Huffington Post’s President and Editor-in-chief; Bill Ford – Ford Motor Company’s Executive Chairman, among many others that recently “came out of the closet”)

–       education (not only in hundreds of schools around the world but even in “cutting-edge” leadership training places like MIT Sloan Leadership Center, Weatherhead School of Management or Harvard Business School);

–       sports (US Olympics Gymnastic team; NFL Seahawks and even, Phil Jackson, the NBA trainer that guided Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers to several triumphs shared recently that one of the most important parts of their trainings was mindfulness);

–       politics (e.g. Mindfulness is now offered to U.K. parliament staff; U.S. congressman Tim Ryan’s proposal for a “mindful nation”);

–       high finance (e.g. Davos World Economic Forum 2014 had more than 25 sessions about mindfulness and wellbeing);

–       media (e.g. TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes, New York Times, The Economist, WIRED, Fast Company, etc.)

First things first: aligning ourselves

Before we talk about why this (r)evolution is happening, let us define what we mean by mindfulness.

A simple way to describe it, using the words of Richard Boyatzis, from Case Western Reserve University, is to “be awake, aware and attentive”. Basically being here, now, totally present in the moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society (University of Massachusetts Medical School) and one of the main responsible for the emergence of this movement in the West, describes mindfulness as ” the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. It seems quite simple. And in fact it is. Not necessarily easy, but simple. And everyone can do it and use it to “strengthen” his/her ability to be present, in the moment, and not be caught in judgments about the past or the future.

So, why now? If these are practices that have been around for millennia, what is causing this emergence? Let me share five reasons why I believe Mindfulness is emerging now and is our biggest hope for organizational and social change.

1. Science proved that we can use the mind to change the brain

For many years there was a strong belief that the brain was static and didn’t change during the course of life. With the emergence of non-invasive technologies of brain imaging, we now know that this could not be so far from the truth. Using Richard Davidson’s words (a renowned scientist from the University of Madison-Wisconsin): “The brain we know is the organ that changes in response to experience, and in response to training, probably more than any other organ in our body. And as such, it really is the vehicle for change and transformation as much as it’s the vehicle for anything else.” This characteristic of the brain is called “neuroplasticity” and there are now several neuroscience studies that support this.

Science has shown that mindfulness allows the training and experience to change the brain, for instance, in areas that regulate attention, executive thinking and emotional regulation, but also can produce epigenetic changes! An impressive study from the lab of Richard Davidson recently published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology showed changes in the expression of several genes after only 8 hours of meditation practice. These were genes responsible for controlling the inflammatory response of the body, which might explain the reason why meditation practitioners tend to have stronger immune systems, fewer diseases and short recovery periods when they are sick.

These are just some examples of what is happening in the scientific arena, where we can currently find more than 3,000 scientific studies with peer-review, and they keep growing at an exponential rate. This support from science is probably the main reason why mindfulness went mainstream, since people now understand the benefits of it and are now feeling secure to start applying these simple practices into their lives.

2. We can use our attention to cultivate a healthy life

Helping people to “rescue” their health and wellbeing is another reason why mindfulness is growing in importance. Most of the studies mentioned previously are from the field of psychology, medicine and health in general. Since 1979, when Jon Kabat-Zinn decided to create a program to address chronic pain and stress related issues (MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), mindfulness based approaches are spreading at a fast pace throughout the whole world, with more than 12,000 certified MBSR teachers in more than 740 sites (academic medical centers, hospitals, clinics, etc.), that are using this technology to address clinical cases like:

–       anxiety disorders (e.g. panic attacks, phobias, PTST – post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.)

–       stress related diseases (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer, etc.)

–       chronic pain

–       depression

–       substance addiction

–       insomnia

–       ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

–       and many, many more.

But the good news is that mindfulness is not only applied to address clinical cases but can also be applied to anyone that would like to simply nurture a general sense of wellbeing and happiness, since that is a positive “side effect” that emerges when using these types of practices.

3. With bigger awareness we can make bigger profits… and save the world

Mindfulness-based approaches started to be applied in organizations to help people in the workplace deal with stress and cultivate their health and wellbeing. However something interesting is happening in this arena, with Silicon Valley leading a new tendency in the use of mindfulness practices in the workplace. According to a 2013 article from WIRED magazine, “Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace – it’s about getting ahead”. Yes, you read it well, getting ahead.

One of the main people “responsible” for this movement is Chade-Meng Tan, an engineer at Google who created a program called “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY). SIY is a program that brings together the latest advancements in neuroscience with the contemplative practices like mindfulness meditation, and is designed to develop the emotional intelligence of its participants. Since its creation, more than 1,000 “googlers” (Google employees) have taken part in the course. There is increasing scientific evidence for the connection between emotional intelligence and performance and, according to Meng, whose job title is “Jolly Good Fellow”, this program can help people increase their results, feel happier and… save the world – Meng’s main goal is to create conditions for world peace during his lifetime. It seems a bold goal but the most interesting thing is that it has been resonating with thousands of people all over the world who have already bought his book and are applying his teachings. The success is so huge that for the first time in Google’s lifetime their attorneys allowed for an internal branded product to be made a spin-off without paying royalties to Google, creating the nonprofit and public benefit corporation SIYLI – Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, which is now delivering the program to people all over the world.

But Google is not the only business case. Several corporations around the world, like General Mills, Genentech, Apple, Sony and even the US Army, are using mindfulness based approaches to increase their overall performance as well as their employees’ wellbeing. According to Michael Chaskalson, a mindfulness consultant, after an 8 week mindfulness course in the workplace it is expected to see the following in participants:

–       a reduction of stress levels;

–       an increase in their levels of emotional intelligence;

–       increased interpersonal sensitivity;

–       higher levels of personal resilience;

–       lower rates of health-related absenteeism;

–       increased self-awareness and awareness of others;

–       enhanced communication skills;

–       increased concentration and attention span;

–       lower levels of impulsivity;

–       a greater capacity to hold and manipulate information;

–       improved sleeping patterns;

–       lower levels of psychological distress, including depression and anxiety;

–       and higher levels of well-being and overall work and life satisfaction.

It seems like “paradise”, doesn’t it? So feel free to send this to your boss since everyone gains with this mindfulness “deal”. You’ll feel happier, your team will work better and your company will be more productive.

4. Being aware of myself and my surroundings I can make better choices

Daniel J. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founder of a new scientific area called Interpersonal Neurobiology. According to Siegel, health, creativity and wisdom comes from a well-integrated brain, especially in the medial prefrontal cortex. This is a very important brain structure, responsible for functions like body regulation, emotional balance, fear management, attunement with other people and empathy (both necessary for compassion), insights, intuition, impulse management and morality. This is a part of the brain that maturates after adolescence and one practice that contributes to its integrated development is… you guessed it, mindfulness.

Imagine people all over the world being more aware, feeling more secure, more connected with themselves and with others and making decisions not only thinking about their own personal benefit but also about the benefit of all beings. Imagine the impact of these “mature” brains in the skulls of decision makers like politicians, CEO’s and bankers all around the world. Let’s make better choices and have hope in the world!

5. Teaching people how to meditate and how to be present can change the world in just one generation

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” This is a bold affirmation from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and some years ago most people would laugh at it. Now, fortunately, and based on everything described above, this can become a reality. Schools all over the world are already experiencing the impact that these practices have not only on children but on the entire system, from teachers to parents. Projects like “Mindful Schools” in the US or “.Be” in the UK have already taught mindfulness to hundreds of thousands of children and everybody is feeling more focused, less stressed, more productive and, especially, more at peace.

Think about it. Could there be something more important to teach to a human being than the very essence of what it is to be a human being? To feel at ease, feel present, in the moment, connected with him/herself and specially connected in a compassionate way with the world that surrounds us?

A brighter future ahead for all of us

I envision a near future where most organizations (corporations, hospitals, schools, etc.) will have meditation rooms, invest in mindfulness and compassion training for their people and where everyone can be at peace with themselves and with others. Moreover, a future where people will use mindfulness as a practice of mental and emotional hygiene, the same way we now take a bath and brush our teeth as practices of physical hygiene.

My dream is to be part of this future, by spreading the word and helping people to flourish into their highest human potential all over the world.

As I finish these words, I’m about to take a plane to San Francisco. Fortunately, I was one of 30 lucky people selected to be part of the first teacher training certification in Search Inside Yourself methodology. I can only feel grateful and excited at this opportunity that is a kick starting point to accomplish my dream. And I really want to dedicate my life to it! Why? Because I really believe that mindfulness is our biggest hope for organizational and social change, and it can really lead to create conditions for world peace.

Many Thanks to Vasco Gaspar for this post. Mindfulness is a new religion and the beauty of that is…it’s not a religion at all! Be Mindful! Love & Laughter Always! – John

Practise Mindfulness in 2014

Mindfulness

What exactly is mindfulness? The first aspect of mindfulness is to be aware of what your mind is focusing on and being able to consciously choose what thoughts you decide to dwell on and which should be allowed to pass through. The mind is constantly filled with a variety of thoughts. The question is whether you can choose to focus on those that are empowering and assist in your progress without dwelling on those that take you away from your goals by creating blocks and negative energy.

The second aspect of mindfulness is the practise of remaining in the present moment at all times. This is most people’s greatest challenge. Many people focus excessively in the past and experience guilt, regret or depression. The past cannot be changed and should consist of good memories and lessons learned. Those who live primarily in the future tend to be worriers which can lead to stress and/or anxiety. They constantly invent potential disasters in their mind that may or may not happen. However, the fear of those possibilities tends to paralyse them from taking the action and bold risks that are needed to achieve ultimate success.

There are positive ways to focus on the future, and a certain amount of it is necessary. Having dreams and setting goals are essential for having a clear understanding of where you are heading and how to get there. Visualization is another positive way of envisioning positive outcomes for the future, and it is an essential component for the success of life. The key to mindfulness is to know the general direction of your path but to have your mind and energy focused on acting only in the present. This will enable you to act and react to current conditions with appropriate action without being limited by either worry or guilt.

When your complete energy is focused on the present moment, guess what happens? You are no longer fighting against your mind but are engrossed in the creative process of utilising all of your skills to the maximum to achieve your dreams. You find that your emotions begin to work in your favour instead of holding you back out of fear and anxiety. The entire process becomes one filled with empowering, positive energy instead of fear and lethargy.

Part of everyday mindfulness is to resist the urge to multitask. When eating a meal concentrate on the food and chewing it properly, savouring each taste and texture. You will enjoy it more and tend to eat less than if you mindlessly wolf it down while trying to read the newspaper. The same goes with just about any activity you engage in. Giving one activity at a time your full, unwavering attention until it is finished is a trademark of successful people in all fields. Trying to do too many things at once tends to lead to scattered thinking and a sense of never really finalising any of the things you want to accomplish.

Being ‘in the flow’ is another great tool for developing mindfulness. In the flow means that the subconscious mind has taken over and is no longer being blocked and controlled by the conscious mind. This is the real goal of mindfulness, to allow your conscious mind to get out of the way and allow your subconscious to create the flowing, magical creativity for which it has trained all your life. The process of being in the flow is one of almost mystical confidence in your own abilities with no judgment or evaluation. It is almost like your true essence has moved outside of your body and you are simply watching this incredible performance taking place. Flow can actually put you in the realm of the mystics who connect with the greater power of the universe and allow that unlimited power to heighten all their capabilities. This is the ultimate in mindfulness, being aware that you have a direct connection to a source of higher power and trusting that you can access it and use it not just for selfish gains, but to enable you to perform at a level that will inspire others to also aspire to reach their full potential.

Make practising mindfulness one of your goals in 2014. Love & Laughter Always! – John