Becoming more aware of our own internal landscape, decision-making and feeling responses is the key to our personal and leadership development, and to a more rewarding and fulfilling life.
For many years personal development has been something that many aspire to, but the mechanisms and tools for achieving it have not always been clear or well researched.
The good news is the research is now well underway and the answers to the ‘how?’ are much clearer.
Central to the process is a requirement to become much more aware of how we currently operate through life and to recognise that an update to these operating systems will serve us very well.
A great place to start is through the practices of Mindfulness & Meditation.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a leading teacher of mindfulness meditation and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He defines Mindfulness as:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
in the present moment,
In short, this means building our capacity to maintain concentrated attention on the object or project of our choice, and not letting ourselves be distracted by the myriad of other things vying for our attention.
It also means developing the capacity to recognise, or ‘Witness’ our thoughts, behaviours, attitudes and mind chatter with a degree of objectivity, non-judgment and disengagement.
Developing these skills not only greatly enhances both our general level of wellbeing and our effectiveness in the world, but it also is a key skill in making the transition from the Reactive to the Creative mindset that sets effective leaders apart from the rest.
The most effective vehicle for developing these skills is through the practice of Meditation.
Meditation is a practice of training the mind in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation and enhance personal and spiritual growth.
The Mind is often referred to in Meditation circles as ‘Monkey Mind’ for its undisciplined tendency to jump from one distraction to another. In this respect it is useful to remind ourselves that mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master, and begs the question “Who’s really in charge, you or your mind?”
As we sit in meditation for a few minutes each day we are given the opportunity to observe the monkey mind get up to its mischief and we can start to re-establish our ability to choose where to put our attention.
As we further develop our meditation practice we also learn to disengage and let go of old negative thinking patterns, disarm aggressive self-criticism and replace it with self-kindness, self-awareness and self-encouragement all of which contribute to a healthy and resilient self-esteem and self-confidence.
As an added bonus, Meditation is deeply relaxing, healing and a terrific antidote to a busy and stressful life. If you are looking for a daily practice that will deliver on improved well-being, emotional stability, resilience and growing wisdom, then Meditation is the way to go.
“Much of the time the mind is wandering, either drawn to focus, ruminate, or push away unpleasant experiences, or chasing after stuff we like. But if we don’t practise being still, we are prone to get blown about by every wind, buffeted by the ups and downs of life. By training to pay attention precisely and gently to the breath, coming back again and again, we cultivate a resilience that allows us to be present when difficulty and temptation arises. Distractions still come, but we don’t get so lost in them.”