Nowadays it is so easy to get caught up in the stress, noise, and excitement of the modern world. We are constantly being bombarded by billboards, commercials, and jingles all vying for our attention. Add to that our reliance on our smartphones and the nonstop status updates and tweets, and it seems we never have a moment to ourselves. It might feel like you’re thinking about a million things at once.
Day in and day out, it slowly takes its toll, to the point where it can feel almost overwhelming. And how do we react? Sometimes we seem distant and preoccupied, sometimes we get high-strung and irritable, and sometimes, in worst case scenarios, it keeps us up all night.
We’ve all heard the saying that ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste’, and I know what you’re thinking. “Of course it’s a terrible thing to waste! And I’m definitely NOT wasting mine, just look at how busy I am!”
But have you ever thought about how you use it?
What if I told you there was a way to train and develop your mind in order to better overcome stress and live in the moment?
There is a trend in business towards what is called Mindful Leadership, which isn’t about what we necessarily focus our attention on, but how we focus it. It is about paying active attention to our own thoughts and feelings and being present in the moment. Practising mindful leadership cannot only reduce stress but increase your creativity and well being, while also optimizing your emotional intelligence.
The key to mindful leadership is meditation. But that doesn’t mean you have to spark the incense and contort your body into the lotus position, or anything like that. It can be as simple and easy as taking a 5-minute breather in your office. But it does take some practice.
The first step (and often the hardest) is that you have to clear your mind.
On paper, it might sound easy, but it can be surprisingly difficult to keep all those little nagging thoughts from bubbling up. Closing the eyes helps because it eliminates any visual distractions, and can help you focus better. You need to relax, preferably in a quiet room, although with practice you may be able to filter noises out through concentration.
The second step is breathing.
It is important to breathe deeply and fully, ideally, each breath in and out should take about 5 seconds each. Try to breathe through your diaphragm, not the lungs, as we usually do. You know you’re doing it right when you see your stomach move in and out with each breath, instead of your shoulders rising and falling.
With practice, it will become more natural to you, and you will be able to maintain the meditation for longer and longer periods of time. And upon your return to the waking world, you will feel much more alert and refreshed. If you look at your brain like it’s a computer, a quick meditative period can be likened to a quick reset, giving your mind a much-needed break.
The benefits of meditation can be quite amazing. Along with an improvement in your overall wellbeing, you will develop a greater clarity of mind that will help you deal with stress more effectively. It will also allow you to be able to focus your attention on the here and now, which will not only increase your self-awareness but strengthen your connection with others as you become a more capable and inspiring leader.
Interested in learning more about mindful leadership and emotional wellbeing? Check out our blog post, Improving Your Wellbeing with Self Management and Emotional Intelligence for tricks on how EQ competencies tie into wellbeing and self care. You can also connect with us and tell us what’s on your mind.