Mindfulness is a key buzz word right now in the wellness and health industries. However, I don't think that mindfulness should be limited to these fields. If mindfulness is applied to industries like business and entrepreneurship, it has the potential to have highly impactful positive social change not only for organizations but the world at large. Why? Because mindfulness creates empathy and a sense of responsibility towards the whole - not just the individual, promoting clear and honest communication. Now imagine the kind of growth and progress that can be made when people take actions from a place of compassion and empathy towards others?
Personally, I am a strong practitioner and advocative of mindfulness and a meditation practice has become a part of my daily life and overall existence. I have fused mindfulness to all parts of the Foreign Morning platform from incorporating it into our events and workshops, to our communication and brand, and I deeply believe in its benefits because I have experienced them.
I do however see that there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty around what mindfulness actually is, so I decided to break it down and explain it.
Let's dive right into it:
What does mindfulness mean?
Mindfulness is about practicing awareness in the present moment without judgment of any thoughts, feelings or sensations that come up. It is like being a unbiased onlooker of a situation, being able to see it from all angles without placing any judgment or preconceived ideas about it. The dictionary definition of mindfulness is "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something" and "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."
What are the effects of a mindfulness practice?
Practicing meditation and mindfulness creates new pathways in the brain, making our brains adaptable to learning new skills like compassion, empathy, emotional regulation, perspective thinking, and overall well-being. Amongst many other research studies, this is based on the work of neuroscientist Richie Davidson at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Recent studies show that a mindfulness practice increases grey matter (which creates new neural pathways in the brain) in the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. Overall, if mindfulness is practiced over time it helps us become more aware, reflective, accepting and less judgmental and reactive to stimulators and triggers.
How do I practice mindfulness?
The key to practicing mindfulness is becoming aware to the present. If you are not used to this, it can be difficult at first to observe your thoughts without letting them control you. That's why beginning a meditation practice can be so helpful to expanding your mindfulness. There are many types of meditation practices from kundalini, to mantra, HRM, guided visualization, to transcendental and it can take some practice and experimentation to find the exercise that works for you.
How do I apply mindfulness to entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship in all of its stages from conceiving an idea, to building, validating, and execution is a process, and like any process there are ways to approach it. In business, there is a lot at stake and it is easy to get stuck and paralyzed by the many challenges with which you are faced. By using intentional redirection to awareness through mindful practices, you are able to bring your awareness back to the greater vision or mission. This helps you make clear decisions based on your greater goals rather than being controlled by the present situation and the emotions that rise from it.
Mindfulness also helps stimulate creative processes by helping boost divergent thinking. Meditation before brainstorming and ideation sessions can be so powerful because they put you in a relaxed and highly focused state. You are also more receptive and open to the ideas of others because you are less judgmental.
How do I incorporate mindfulness into a company's culture?
Finally, honest and clear communication between people is one of the most important elements to a successful organization. Mindfulness can play a huge role in guiding people to be more empathetic, compassionate and understanding of others. How? There is reduced activity in the brain's "Me Center" During meditation, there is a decreased activity in the brain's Default Mode Network which is active when we our mind's don't have a direction and can feel like a spiral of thoughts. This is associated with unhappiness and states of unease - for obvious reasons.
In my experience, taking on a mindful practice while starting the Foreign Morning platform this year has brought me immense sense of clarity and peace and knowing that it is backed by science gives me an even greater sense of responsibility to promote this way of life.
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