Tag Archives: mindfulness

Want to increase your self awareness? Try this!

I have a confession. While I’ve read the research showing that mindfulness meditation practice has the capability of increasing self awareness and leadership effectiveness, I’m rather late to the party. Perhaps my resistance was a result of my introduction to meditation as a high school sophomore.  In gym class we were instructed to sit cross-legged on a mat, close our eyes, slowly breathe in and out, and recite a two-syllable mantra of our choosing for 15 minutes. Needless to say, it felt weird not talking or listening or moving for that long. Plus, I didn’t really understand why sitting with my eyes closed, repeating the word hel-lo was at all useful at the time. I just chalked it up to something that didn’t work for me.

So, many years later, upon the urging of my neurologist, I finally tried it.  Not as a way to improve my leadership effectiveness, mind you, but as a strategy to manage and reduce pain from a head injury. Last November, I picked a free mindfulness meditation app on my phone that promised to work for “fidgety skeptics.” I thought that was an accurate description of me. I was still pretty resistant to practicing meditation, although I fully understood the benefits.

Interestingly, I found that after a couple weeks of using the mindfulness meditation app, I was able to not only increase my awareness of my body and reduce pain by recognizing where I was tensing muscles in my face, neck, and shoulders and relaxing them, but I also increased awareness of my emotions.  I began to recognize emotional triggers faster and manage them better. Rather than reacting in the moment, I found myself stepping back and examining my emotions more often. More important, I noticed that I was choosing my responses more effectively. These were pretty huge benefits from 5-9 minutes of mindfulness meditation a day.

While I’m just at the beginning of my mindfulness practice, I’m looking forward to reaping more benefits from it. According to neuroscience research articulated by a leading mindful leadership program called Id8TE, mindfulness can help to:

  • Increase self awareness and authenticity
  • Train your attention and deepen concentration
  • Improve critical thinking, planning, and decision making
  • Increase working memory and attention span
  • Sharpen situational awareness
  • Communicate thoughtfully and strategically
  • Respond to adversity with strength and resilience
  • Establish a calm and compassionate leadership presence
  • Attract, engage, and mobilize others

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? If you’re not already practicing mindfulness or you’re a fidgety skeptic like me, I’d encourage you to give it a try. There are many mindfulness apps you can download right to your phone these days, like: The Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm, Mindbody, buddhify, Insight Timer, Smiling Mind, Meditation Timer Pro, Sattva, Stop Breathe & Think, and 10% Happier.

At a basic level, mindfulness helps you pay attention to and recognize your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. Recognizing your feelings is especially helpful.  As emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman says, “Without being able to recognize your feelings, you can’t control them. This inevitably effects your disposition–and output–at work.”

Anita Rios


Breathe – there’s an app for that!

I was having lunch with a leader last week. We were discussing the chaotic environment and demands that leaders in higher education face today and we agreed that finding more hours in the day would be a great solution. Great idea but not very realistic, sad to say. 24-Hours-Is-not-Enough---short-long-infinity-T-Shirts

I shared that I had found some studies focusing on applying mindfulness in the work setting as a way to help with work-life balance. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a scientist and writer, has stated that “meditation is an act of sanity” in today’s world. Since we can’t create more time, mindfulness can help us be more aware in the moment and find our own equilibrium. At this point my colleague started to laugh and said, “I just found an app for that.” He has started to use Headspace , a free app for android and iOS  devices that introduces mindfulness in short bursts that are easy to try and can be done anywhere. Perfect for busy leaders. The app guides you through a series of 10 minute learning events designed to help you establish a mindfulness practice that works for you.

There are many oMorningCoffee_webptions for learning more about mindfulness. Here is a link to a number of apps. I wanted to share one example that a leader I know is using to help manage the stress and demands of leading in chaotic times.

Todd Thorsgaard