I was recently invited to share a few thoughts on Meditation and Reflective Leadership with a professional women’s network. I had about an hour. So after about a one-minute introduction to meditation, I took the group through a basic breath awareness exercise and allowed them to sit quietly with each other for ten minutes. After the meditation, I invited them to share with each other what was most striking about the experience for them. We used the Liberating Structure of 1-2-4-all to do this which can be found at www.liberatingstructures.com. The 1 is a reflective minute to write down your own thoughts before sharing in the 2-4 and all.
Even if I have only an hour, I believe it is profoundly more helpful to take the time to give folks the experience of quiet meditation before talking about it. And I find it instructive to give them a way to reflect on their own experience as the ground for the ensuing conversation. Their experience and questions about it are much more fruitful than me just speaking to them about theory and my own experience.
The following are a few brief thoughts I shared with the group. They begin to answer the question as to why one might carve out the time for quiet and meditation.
Quiet – Allows us to see differently because we are paying attention to ourselves in an intentional way.
As we change the view, we begin to see differently. Our thoughts, emotions and the well- worn paths and patterns are now seen from a fresh perspective. And now that we see them in a different light, how might we be and do differently going forward?
Quiet – Grounds us in the stillness of our being as reference point of all of our doing.
In the quiet, we choose to disengage from all the external distractions to be at home with ourselves. It is in our own “living room” that we can choose how we want to be. Are the thinking and emotional patterns we have decorated our “living room” with, helpful to us? And how might our decorum be unhelpful to others we invite into our “living room?”
Quiet – Allows us to see, listen and lead in a reflective manner that facilitates going slow to go fast.
Instead of reacting in various areas of our lives, we have added the pause that allows us to now respond. In the same way that we pause for ourselves, as leaders, we invite others to do the same whether we are meeting one on one and/or as a group. The pause is a practice that facilitates reflective leadership for us and others.
Part of seeing differently, is that I see myself and others differently. I become that observing self that sees my own patterns, other’s patterns and the interconnectedness of all the different systems within my larger ecosystem.
If all that you ever see is yourself – than that is a very limiting perspective.
When Maya Angelou was recently asked about what makes a great leader, she responded by saying, “A leader sees greatness in other people. You can’t be much of a leader if all you see is yourself.”
When will you take the time for yourself and for others to be reflective leaders? Now may be soon enough!