Mindfulness for leaders
You may think it’s just a fleeting fad. Mindfulness, however, has been scientifically proven to be beneficial for most people.
As professionals and business owners, we all lead busy lives. The day starts with an alarm to signal the beginning of the frenzy and chaos, a day filled with meetings to preside over, projects to manage, and decisions to make. No wonder we’re stressed and burned out.
Do you know that mindfulness can help you manage the stresses of a hectic lifestyle? Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness can promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being and health.
What is mindfulness? It is our ability to be aware of the present and pay attention to what is happening without judgment. Mindfulness can be developed through meditation, a mental training to embrace our moment-to-moment experience in a relaxed and gentle way.
The awareness and compassion we cultivate help us see things clearly just as they are, and respond more skillfully to situations. As Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl says: “Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”
Benefits of Mindfulness
We become calmer and less stressed. Mindfulness can support us to respond, rather than react, to challenges and crises with calmness and composure. It gives us a chance to pause and take a step back before our next move.
We gain clarity and focus. When the mind is calm through mindfulness meditation, the lens through which we see the world becomes clearer. Instead of acting purely on impulse, we can recognize things as they really are and experience life in all its fullness and truest nature.
We can be kinder and better leaders. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help us become kinder and more compassionate. When we sit still, we create space to honor what we have in common with other human beings. We can become more effective leaders for our team members.
How can we be more mindful?
- Observe purposeful pauses throughout the day. Enjoy small pauses in between meetings in order to breathe, focus, and gather your attention. Mindfully “arrive” in the meeting, decide on your purpose, and lead meetings in a more productive way.
- Practice mindful movements. Mindful movement helps us get in touch with our body, release tension, mobilize stagnant energy and even lift our mood. Try to do some mindful movements throughout your day. Do some shoulder and neck rolls every hour. Shift in your seat often. Maybe you can stand or even walk around in between meetings.
- Try to focus on one thing at a time. New studies reveal that multitasking reduces our performance because our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. Renowned Zen Master Sunryu Suzuki, in his book Beginner’s Mind, introduced the Japanese secret to productivity called Ichigyo-Zammai which means “full concentration on a single act.” Suzuki Roshi wrote: “When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat.”
- Don’t forget self-care. We cannot pour from an empty cup, as they say. When we’re tired and tapped out, we can become negative, resentful, and unproductive. Take time to recharge and recover. Allow yourself to rest during weekends. Spend time with your family. Enjoy a hobby unrelated to your work. Read. Write. Meditate. Pray. Sleep.
- Consider starting a meditation practice. Decide on a place and time to meditate. It can be in the morning as soon as you wake up or at night before you go to bed. You can start with five minutes of meditation. Sit down, relax your body, and focus on your breath.
Mindfulness meditation is not a panacea or a cure-all. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for all mental and psychological problems. It can, however, be a tool to reduce stress and regulate awareness, so we can be more focused, effective, and compassionate human beings.
JUDY CAPILI is the HR Business Partner Lead for Financial Markets and Institutional Banking. She is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher (CMT-P) accredited by the International Mindfulness Teachers Association (IMTA), having completed her teacher training from Engaged Mindfulness Institute (EMI). She leads Metrobank’s weekly Mindful Moments, a 30-minute drop-in meditation and reflection session for employees who need to de-stress over their lunch period.