"Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment." -Rumi
What keeps us from "drinking the nectar of This Moment" as Rumi invites us to do?
Our mind is a flow of energy and information. The quality of our thinking, the focus of our conversations, the repetitive nature of our complaints directly influence our ability to be mindful, present. Pulling us into the past or the future, they reduce our capacity to be effective at work and limit the quality of our lives. To be present is to process life as it happens.
There is a mainstream uptake in conversations about meditation and mindfulness. Mindfulness, defined as present-centered attention and awareness, emerged from Buddhist philosophy and has been cultivated for millennia through meditation practices. Now mindfulness is being brought into product design, stress reduction, decision making, military training, national health, humane technology, education and leadership.
Danielle Krettek, from Google’s R & D Empathy Lab, says that “It’s not about designing product. It’s about designing presence.”
I’m happy to see that mindfulness is no longer a “fringe” topic. At the recent Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco I heard about successful trainings in companies as diverse as SAP, the US Forest Service, Google, and at Stanford. Peter Bostelmann, the Founder and Director of Global Mindfulness practice at SAP, the German based software and service provider, spoke about the hundreds of employees who have taken their mindfulness course and the over 800 on the waiting list.
In 2016 ScienceDaily published a study from Case Western Reserve University, “New management-based research concludes that mindfulness in the workplace improves employee focus, attention, and behavior.” Given that mindfulness training can improve how we think, feel, act, relate and perform at work and at home, how do we begin?
Use these 3 steps to begin to observe the territory of your mind. Once you discover what thoughts live in your head you may, like me, find new motivation to meditate daily.
List your last 5 thoughts. Are they critical, appreciative, logistical, depressing, energizing, happy, sad? Do this a couple times a day. Just notice.
Ask someone who works or lives with you what they often hear you say. Add those to your list.
Record your observations at the end of the day. How did your thoughts keep you from being present; limit your ability to effectively respond?
Everybody's rushing from one thing to another. It's not easy to settle into centered spaciousness for a wider, wiser perspective. In our world of busy, with so much to do, it's a challenge to stay present to what's most important in our lives. Yet, when we are present, we are most alive and productive. We listen to our hearts and to each other.
Begin a mindfulness practice. During morning meditation, on holiday or taking a break in nature, as the breezes quiet our minds we can open the voice of our inner wisdom. Mindful of our thoughts, we can discover the present moment where, without effort or striving to be more, our simple, elegantly human presence feels calm, caring, and reassuring.
As mindful leaders we can transform fear to possibility and wisdom. We build a culture of trust, mutual respect, and collaboration. Innovation thrives. We take feedback to heart and work on what we hear. We live lives of more meaning and satisfaction.