Are you living in the moment, or do you find yourself, like many of us, with racing thoughts, significant amounts of stress, and that sinking feeling that you will never catch up?
The pressures, distractions, and complexities that accompany our daily lives can take a toll on our minds and bodies and our ability to become and remain successful business leaders. And at some point, unfortunately, we’re not present and life just starts to pass us by. Ferris Bueller said it well, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
The notion and proliferation of mindfulness and “being in the moment” has been a topic of significant discussion in the popular media and academic research circles. This isn’t a recent phenomenon as Time Magazine put “The Mindfulness Revolution” on its cover back in 2014, which could have been seen as hyping the latest business fad, or more likely as signaling a major change in the thinking of executive leaders. And the host of corporations taking the charge includes Google, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Apple, Medtronic, and Aetna.
It’s no surprise that researchers are seeing that constant interruptions (from email, texts, meetings, family, etc.) are significantly impacting our productivity and opportunities to be creative, proactive, and centered at work.
Andy Puddicombe hosted a great Ted talk about this topic. As part of his research, he references a Harvard study that indicated that 46% of the time, we’re lost in thought—having a direct correlation to our happiness. Nearly 50% of the time, we are mind wondering. It’s shocking to think that this might result in living half of our lives unhappy.
He suggests that we take at ten minutes a day to do absolutely “nothing.” That means forcing ourselves to eliminate random thoughts, to not pick up the smart phone to answer a text, to not watching TV. “Nothing.”
Puddicombe sees mediation, this ten minutes of “nothing” per day, in a different way. It’s not about yoga mats, essential oils, and incense—rather it’s the ability cope, to take care of our brains, and to step back and reflect with a relaxed mind. This relaxed mind will allow us to gain the perspective to understand that we can’t change what’s going on, but we can change how we experience it.
The positive effects meditation has on our physical health and well-being are now indisputable; and businesses are starting to “pay attention” to the impact that these practices can have on employee performance, communication, and leadership.
In fact, Harvard Business Review put out a great article on mindfulness suggesting that it’s a must-have in the business world and can actually serve to change our brains. The article sites a study where neuroscientists are showing that practicing mindfulness affects brain areas related to perception, body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking, and sense of self.
The University of California, Irvine, a research-one institution, is also doing their part to make mindfulness a priority for leaders, not only to enhance our personal experience, but also to make us better at our jobs. The University has partnered with a mindfulness expert development coach, Shannon Jordan, who delves into the connections between mindfulness, ingenuity, and thought in business. Check out her webinar.
And as a result, the University just released a new course, Mindfulness-Based Strategies in Business, which will allow students to explore science-based mindfulness practices that can help optimize personal and professional efficiency.
The class includes a survey of current research and evidence for the positive impact mindfulness can have on six different business outcomes: work performance, team communication, decision-making, change management, innovation, and leadership. The objective is for participants to be able to build their own inner resources as well as engage in more informed discussions around the possibilities mindfulness-based strategies offer for culture change and business results.
So take ten minutes out to do “nothing.” Allow yourself to experience undisturbed thoughts. Then once your mind is clear, consider investigating UCI’s course in Mindfulness-Based Strategies in Business.