When I was working with a global nursing initiative at the United Nations in May of 2008, I had the opportunity to work with Monica Sharma, then the Global Director of Leadership Development. She started the work session by introducing the concept of operating out of “the groundedness of your being.” At the time, Monica’s concept resonated with me because of my familiarity with Otto Scharmer, from MIT, who had developed the Theory of the U Movement and the concept of “Presencing”.
Since then, we have all heard more and more about the concept of Mindfulness. A recognized international expert in the research and practice of Mindfulness is Jon Kabat-Zinn. I heard him speak with the Dalai Lama at Harvard over a decade ago. He has given the most succinct definition that I have found for the concept of mindfulness. By presenting the Chinese character for mindfulness – he described that it consists of presence of heart.
Mindfulness assists you in moving out of what the Buddhist tradition calls “monkey mind” and to drop down into the “groundedness of your being” and be in the presence of your heart.
So, what does all of this have anything to do with getting better results in any area of your life? Absolutely everything! In the process of quieting our minds, we become an observer of our minds and not controlled by them. In this process of observation, we distinguish that our true selves are not to be found in our frantic and cluttered minds, but in the spaciousness and quiet of our hearts. This is where we show up most authentically and most courageously.
The fundamental tool of leadership and getting our best results is by training the mind. When we do so, through such practices as mindfulness, then we ultimately learn to manage ourselves.
Let us do five minutes of meditation and then unpack this thought a little more.
If you would like, here is a link to some peaceful music to enhance your mediation.
Seated position, hands on legs, soft gaze or closing of eyes, attention to breath – the inhalation and exhalation felt in your body, when thoughts drift in – you may identify them as thinking and gently return to your breath awareness.
What did you notice about your thoughts?
In order to be reflective, we must make room to quiet down. Mindfulness and/or meditation allows us to see that we are not just our thoughts. Reflection facilitates making the distinction between standard operating procedures and how we truly desire to be. It is the distinction between reaction and response.
Having lived most of my adult life in southern California, I have been cut off on more than one occasion as I was driving. In that moment, I can react or respond. For many folks that looks like waving to the other person with your whole hand as opposed to just one finger.
As we learn to train our mind, we better learn to manage ourselves. I heard from a colleague that time-management is a misnomer. We do not need to learn to manage our time as much as the constant in the equation – ourselves. When you are willing to pause and go inside, you will find the internal answers that unleash you – for amazing external results in all areas of life. Make time to be reflective!
“Without reflection, there is no true learning.”
~ Kevin Buck