Benefits of a Mindful Practice

Feedback about the Benefits of a Mindful Practice

I have been receiving excellent feedback from people who have subscribed to my Mindful Insights Mentoring Service. My favourite comment, “It’s great having only one thing to work on each week.” Some of the benefits mentioned are:

  • “Helps me reduce stress.”
  • “Helps me to be in touch with my emotions, but not ruled by them.”
  • “Helps me to be more balanced.”
  • “Helps me live a better life and enjoy the life I have.”
  • “Starts my day off right.”
  • “I feel more creative.”
  • “Helps me to focus on what’s important.”
  • “I am less reactive.”
  • “Helps me sleep better.”
  • “Greater control over my life.”
  • “More peace.”
  • “Makes me feel better mentally and physically.”
  • “Helps me focus on the good things in life.”
  • “My decision making is clearer.”

Mindfulness is not a cure or quick fix. It is a process that requires practice, that’s why it is called a mindful practice. The hardest thing to do when I started my practice was remembering to practice! Several people have commented how they love receiving an insight every Friday. They read over the weekend and practice throughout their week.

I have retired as a mentor with Juvenile Justice to focus on establishing Mindfulness Mentoring Institute. I devote my mornings to teaching and coaching sessions and keep my afternoons appointment free to receive phone and skype calls. Please feel welcome to call for an obligation free chat about my certificate course or mentoring service. I am available 7 days between noon & 4pm NSW time. Phone 0418 864 162

My main message: Be Mindful… Pause… Connect!
Mindfully Yours with Love, Joy & Peace Always! – John

Mindfulness Day 2016

1Rocks FB

The first Sunday in May is Mindfulness Day. This year, it is 1st May! You may remember the first Mindfulness Day in 2014 when I created a facebook event and invited Australians with mental suffering. 4,700 people turned up and Mindfulness Day launched Mindful May. I wrote a blog every day in May and the event was truly amazing with hundreds of lives transformed. The event became my book Mindful Actions and thousands more lives have been turned around since. I am amazed by the feedback I receive, I especially love hearing from people coming off meds or waking up by way of their mindful practice. This year I have created another facebook event and will be sharing my story, my knowledge and my vision. Please join and be part of the mindful revolution by sharing this event. Go a step further and send me your photo to dress up. For more info, go to mindfullyMAD.org and click on Mindfulness Day.

How is your mindful practice coming along? I was asked by a magazine to write about developing a mindful practice, this is what I wrote:

Mindful practice is about silencing our minds with awareness and focusing on being fully present with what is happening. Having a mindful practice enables us to develop more awareness of our thoughts and feelings. We are able to notice and observe what is going on without getting all caught up, especially the unhelpful and negative stuff. A mindful practice also enables us to pause and create more silence and peace of mind throughout our day.

Mindfulness doesn’t stop the never-ending flow of mental chatter, nor does it stop the ebb and flow of our feelings. Sometimes we avoid practising mindfulness because we feel that something is going on deep down inside. It could be that we’re feeling anger, fear, sadness, past trauma, powerless, unmotivated or just tired. We know if we pause or stop we might have to deal with what is happening. Instead of stopping to acknowledge and feel what is coming to the surface, we distract ourselves by eating chocolate, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, focusing on our to-do list, watching TV, working too hard or many other distractions.

As we develop our mindful practice, we learn to recognise these unhelpful feelings for what they really are, just feelings. We learn that feelings aren’t facts and we make room for them or simply choose to let them go. A mindful practice helps us to connect fully with our whole being, mind, body, heart and soul. Then by deepening our practice of being present, the connection with ourselves deepens. We feel more connected to love, joy, peace, aliveness, strength and many other qualities. The flow on effect is the ability to deepen our presence with our loved ones and everyone we connect with in our daily lives.

The very essence of mindfulness is awareness in its purest form. With practice, mindful awareness becomes second nature, your home base and your refuge. With practice, your sense of awareness (or the silent observer as I like to call it) starts to abide more and more in your daily life. With practice, you will be able to readily step back and be the silent observer of your thoughts and feelings. Notice how I keep repeating ‘with practice’? Practice is the overall key to developing mindfulness and I cannot overstate it enough.

Use of the key thought ‘Be Mindful’ is a great way to trigger instant mindful awareness, no matter what is happening in any given moment. Use ‘Be Mindful’ to activate the silent observer of your thoughts and feelings without any judgement. When you activate the silent observer, you are also tuning in to your sixth sense or intuition. It is a sure way to tap into your creative genius. It is also a sure way to gain clarity of mind and a strong sense of priority. Be sure to pause and tune in at regular intervals to maintain your mindful practice.

Mindfully Yours with Love, Joy & Peace Always! – John

Mindfulness Masters

Elephant MM Logo1

What does it mean to be a mindfulness master? What are the qualities of a mindfulness master? Insightful, kind and loving come to mind but it’s hard to be sure unless we ourselves are masters. I started my mindful practice in 2009 and also started an intensive five year study into the many aspects of mindfulness. In 2014, I wrote a book called Mindful Actions and have witnessed many lives transformed through mindful practice. Here is a list of the most prominent qualities that mindfulness masters aspire to. Keep in mind that there are many stages to go through to become a master and everyone, both men and women alike, are somewhere on their path to mindfulness mastery.

  1. Loving, Kind and Empathic

Mindfulness masters are loving, kind and empathic. They genuinely care about other people, regardless of whether people care about them in return. Masters know that other people provide them with the spiritual nourishment needed to continue growing. They fully realise that everyone and everything is their teacher. Masters are so full of love that it has no choice but to overflow to all around them.

  1. Open-Minded and Insightful

Mindfulness masters are open-minded and insightful. They are able to see the world with clarity, without attachment to preconceived ideas about people, places and things. This enables them to observe the world without judgement or jumping to conclusions. Limiting beliefs are replaced with clarity of vision and understanding the bigger picture.

  1. Inner Strength

Mindfulness masters have great inner strength. They have learned intuitive ways of connecting with people and skillful ways of connecting with source energy within. Masters draw inner strength from our divine creator and understands their connection to life itself. They no longer have a need for the power struggles that most people engage in.

  1. Presence

Mindfulness masters are fully present with everyone they encounter. They have developed their own mindful practice and are very skilful in maintaining presence and awareness in all their relationships. Masters use all five physical senses and understand the concept of the silent observer or sixth sense. They trust in the intuitive process, not only from people but also from the energy that is connected to life itself. Masters realise that intuition speaks into the silence between their thoughts.

  1. Leadership

Mindfulness masters lead by example. Having awakened to the point of understanding the nature of suffering, they are committed to helping other people find freedom from suffering. They lead with love and cooperation, rather than fear and control. People follow them because of who they are and what they stand for. Masters value empathy and listening skills very highly as leadership traits.

  1. Happy

Mindfulness masters are happy and joyful. They have a cheerful disposition and are willing to share their joy with others. Masters understand that happiness isn’t the destination… happiness is the journey! They are always optimistic that challenges have a resolution. Masters are also very proficient at turning negatives into positives.

  1. Ordinary

Mindfulness masters are unpretentious. They know their place in the universe, and don’t need validation from others. Masters have nothing to prove to anyone, including themselves. They’re humble nature allows them to be kind and gentle, and be open to everyone they encounter.

  1. Patient and Understanding

Mindfulness masters are patient and understanding. They have learnt to be patient through their own journey. Masters understand that things happen when they are meant to and that the next step comes at the right time. They understand the challenges of creating a rich, full and meaningful life and never condemn people for their missteps or mistakes.

  1. Peaceful and Easygoing

Mindfulness masters are peaceful and easygoing. This is because they are free of fear and other unwholesome emotions. They know that the human condition reaches beyond physical existence, so they no longer have any fear of the unknown. Masters are free of worry because they understand that inner peace comes from within, and not from external happenings. They also have freedom from suffering because they know that inner peace does not depend on material possessions or abundance.

  1. Emotionally Stable

Mindfulness masters are emotionally stable because they no longer have an ego that needs validation. They don’t get angry because they are understanding and compassionate toward those who have not yet fully awakened. Masters understand that the actions of others are often not the actions of their authentic self but actions from their egoic nature.

  1. Mindful of Health

Mindfulness masters are mindful of their health… physical, mental and emotional. They know that the mind, body and spirit must be in harmony in order to maintain balance and vitality. Masters have developed an understanding of physical and mental health and do not depend on others for their wellbeing.

  1. Committed to Mindful Practice

Mindfulness masters never forget how they achieved mindful mastery. They are very aware that it takes continuous effort to maintain their mindful practice. Above all, masters are mindfully aware of themselves and the world around them. They are curious and always willing to learn from others. Masters can see with great clarity and understand the true nature of their existence. At the same time, they recognise that it takes time to observe, investigate and gain the knowledge necessary to achieve mindfulness mastery.

This is not a comprehensive list of the qualities of mindfulness masters but these are the most prominent. The purpose for highlighting these qualities is to give us a compass to guide us on our mindful journey… a vision of the path that lies ahead. It takes real effort and dedication but it is well worth it. Are you a mindfulness master? Please consider joining the team of mindfulness mentors at mindfullyMAD.org (mindfully Making A Difference) Need a little training to be a mindfulness mentor? Take a look at my certificate course.

Mindfully Yours with Love, Joy and Peace Always! – John

What Mindfulness is Not

 

 

 

Swan Lake

One thing is certain… mindfulness is not easy, but it is simple. It doesn’t come naturally, that is why it requires much practice. It’s not about relaxing. Mindfulness just means noticing what’s happening, including the things we find difficult. It doesn’t involve listening to panpipes to escape your worries. It isn’t a meditation practice. Mindfulness is a practice for the whole of life. It’s about finding a different way to respond to experience throughout your day.

It isn’t about emptying your mind. Minds produce thoughts, it’s what they’re built for, and your mind keeps on producing them even if you do happen to be meditating. You can become calm and settled by learning to accept your thoughts, making room for them or letting them go. It is always good to remind yourself that thoughts are just that… thoughts. No need to dwell on them, fight with them, act on them or try to avoid them.

It isn’t Buddhist. It is true that mindfulness has it’s roots in the age of Buddha but no-one owns mindfulness. Mindfulness has evolved and has now become the merging of ancient eastern philosophy and the latest western psychology. The beauty of mindfulness is that it is not a religion at all. However, all religions could greatly benefit from having a mindful practice.

It isn’t a technique. Mindfulness isn’t something you do. It’s a way of being. It isn’t a way to fix our problems. Mindfulness can help eliminate depression, anxiety, stress or chronic pain, but not by fixing them. We learn to relate in a new way to the things that trouble us, rather than trying to make them go away. Having a mindful practice is about re-training our minds so that we can cope with whatever comes our way.

It isn’t about doing things slowly. Some mindfulness courses include things like eating a raisin slowly. That does help you to notice details that you may otherwise miss. It also highlights the fact that we often rush or go through the motions while thinking about other things. But that doesn’t mean that you should do everything slowly. A mindful practice is about doing things on purpose, even if they are sometimes at a fast pace.

It isn’t scientific. Research into the effects of mindfulness and its impact on the mind and body are impressive. It is helping to bring mindfulness into the mainstream. Science can measure what mindfulness does, but it can’t measure what it is. Measuring mindfulness is a science; practising it is an art that requires presence, awareness, connection and living in the moment.

It isn’t a fad. Mindfulness is certainly becoming popular, but is it a fad? Our communities are becoming more distracted than ever before. Mindlessness is rampant and there is a growing epidemic of mental suffering. Modern culture seems to be focused on wanting more, getting more and having more. Mindfulness is about being grateful in the moment and is here to stay!

This is from my certificate course Keys to Mindfulness Mentoring. Check it out, especially if you want to make a difference in young peoples lives. Mindfully Yours with Love, Joy and Peace Always! – John Shearer

Mindful Connection

Star Fish

We are All One, One with Spirit, One with Life!

Mindful connection is the goal of developing a mindful practice. Mindful connection with your loved ones, your friends and co-workers. Mindful connection with your authentic higher self which is part of universal spiritual energy. Mindful connection with life in all its diversity. A mindful practice is a process that brings about realisation of your true oneness with all that is.

Be Mindful is the key thought that helps in the transformational process. Be Mindful is the main theme in my book Mindful Actions and I teach it to all my clients. Be Mindful is the basis for every guided meditation that I conduct, whether in a group or in one-on-one sessions.

Being mindful is the ongoing practice of pausing your mind chatter and focusing your attention on the present moment with awareness. Anytime you find yourself in a stressful situation or under pressure, let Be Mindful be the trigger to take you to a place of peaceful presence or of heightened awareness. Use Be Mindful whenever you have an unhelpful thought or feeling, to shift focus to your values or purpose.

Use Be Mindful as a powerful trigger to pause and connect to your inner wisdom. Use Be Mindful as a magical trigger to silence your mind to enhance creativity and innovation. Use Be Mindful as a loving trigger that brings about full presence of mind, resulting in heightened intuition and intimacy in your relationships.

Mindfully Yours with Love, Joy & Peace Always! – John Shearer

Beliefs

1Bamboo Stone1

1982-1997 ~ I believed that I had an imbalance of chemicals in my brain. I believed I was mentally ill and would never be cured. I believed that I would have to take medications for the rest of my life. Professional people told me these things. People who had studied and been trained for many years in Universities.

1997-2009 ~ I had a spiritual awakening and believed in the power of Spirit. No more depression and no more meds. I believed the mind was like the moon. The moon has a light side as well as a dark side. For the first time in my life, everything made sense to me. All through history I could see the evidence of this spiritual game of chess. Love, joy and peace on one side versus hate, sadness and war on the other. Minds consumed by the light, dreaming, creating and full of life versus minds consumed by the darkside, nightmarish, destroying and suicidal.

2009-2013 ~ I started the study and practice of mindfulness. I felt driven and spent countless hours in front of the computer. 20-30 hours per week, it almost drove my wife insane. Mindfulness is all about awareness and being fully connected to spirit. It is the tool we all need to live a life of peace and happiness.

2013-End of Days ~ Osho said, “It’s not a question of learning much – on the contrary. It’s a question of unlearning much.” We all have beliefs based on what we have learned and what we have experienced. This in turn becomes our truth and we all have different truths.

The mind is like a computer and needs to be reset now and then. I decided to un-believe everything I had learned on my life’s journey. As thoughts came to mind, I used my silent observer (my heart) to test for truth. The results have been absolutely enlightening! This is your mindful action. Be warned; your mind is going to object strongly, just remember, you are not your mind!

Here are a few random thoughts:

  • What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for.
  • You become what you believe.
  • Don’t believe everything you think.
  • The reason you do the things you do is because you think the things you think.
  • The reason you think the things you think is because you believe the things you believe.
  • The root cause of your problems is not what you are doing – it is what you are thinking!
  • The worst thing you can do is believe that you don’t have a choice.
  • Life presents you with endless choices and opportunities if you care to step out and face your fears without limiting beliefs.
  • Only you can take the impossible and make it possible!

Be Mindful – and Open to All Possibilities! Love, Joy & Peace Always! – John

Grafton Mindfulness Group

Grafton Group

 

I have been practising and coaching mindfulness for six years now and have witnessed the massive impact that it has made on people’s work and life. They are more peaceful, happier, healthier, empathic, intuitive and excited about their lives.

This weekly group is starting on Saturday 21st February at 10am sharp at the Grafton Community & Function Centre, 59 Duke Street Grafton. All Welcome! If you can’t make it to the group, why not consider a one-on-one session with me? Another option is to purchase my book Mindful Actions. People are now buying multiple copies of my book to give away to friends. Friends who might be struggling, needing motivation or haven’t found their purpose yet.

Mindfully Yours with Love, Joy & Peace Always! – John Shearer bemindful@outlook.com.au

Mindfulness in Business

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh: is mindfulness being corrupted by business and finance?

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.”

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/thich-nhat-hanh-mindfulness-google-tech (c) Guardian News & Media Ltd

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

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