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Mindfulness resources for leaders and leadership/executive coaches.
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Are you awake? - Leadership & Change Magazine

Are you awake? - Leadership & Change Magazine | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
You live by a busy schedule - but are you awake? What if you give more attention to what happens right now and don’t force reality into a schedule and goals?

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Mindful Leadership on the Rise

Encouraged by a growing body of research, leading corporations and organizations are beginning to accept an alternative to just leading from the top down -- it's leading from the inside out....

Via Anne Leong
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Mindfulness can improve leadership in times of instability

Mindfulness can improve leadership in times of instability | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
A mindful leader can respond to change with focus and clarity, and avoid repeating the same mistakes, writes Cheryl Rezek
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MINDFULNESS, HOPE AND COMPASSION: A LEADER’S ROAD MAP TO RENEWAL - Ivey Business Journal

MINDFULNESS, HOPE AND COMPASSION: A LEADER’S ROAD MAP TO RENEWAL - Ivey Business Journal | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
How does a leader quell the everyday, inner conflicts caused by the heavy responsibility, the need for constant self-control and the inevitable crises – and
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Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection to Corporate America's Bottom Line

Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection to Corporate America's Bottom Line | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
On Tuesday I'll be guest-hosting CNBC's Squawk Box.
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One-Moment Meditation for Managers

One-Moment Meditation for Managers | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it

How an MBA turned to meditation and in the process managed to turn meditation upside down.

While a student at the Yale School of Management, I decided to invite all the students, staff, and faculty to an informal discussion that I titled “Spirituality and Management?” This was in 1987, when the idea that spirituality and management could have something in common was very strange indeed. It was before yoga mats had become fashionable urban accessories, back when meditation was still seen as esoteric and foreign, back when the memory of the 1960s had been overshadowed by Reaganomics.

I decided to host this conversation because although I was enjoying my studies, there was some part of me languishing beneath the spreadsheets. I had already had some Zen-like realizations, some mystical openings, and had become an avid student of my dreams. From these experiences, I knew there was something more to life—something intangible, immaterial, uncountable—that could not be included in decision analysis and strategic plans. I sensed that a fundamental part of management education was missing.

A Brief History of Management Education

The practice of providing formal education to aspiring business managers—the typical MBA curriculum—began in the late nineteenth century, before the service economy and the information age, when the concerns of business were primarily industrial production. Although the goal was to bring a scientific approach to management, the scientific understanding of reality at that time was fundamentally different than it is now. It was before quantum physics, when matter was still solid and certainty was within our grasp. It was before theories of complexity and chaos revealed that we are embedded in systems far too complex for easy prediction. In other words, the first century of management education focused on things—things that could be counted and measured, things that behaved predictably. Good management was essentially a mechanical problem, a Newtonian endeavor. (And humans were just “resources.”)

This history of management influenced even the Yale School of Management, a relatively young and innovative business school, where many of the students came from a background in social activism and not-for-profit management. Thus, our core curriculum in the 1980s was still heavily dominated by accounting, data analysis, economic theory, and quantitative tools for decision making. It was still based on a linear, mechanical model of reality: if you do x, then you should get y.

Why Why I Fled the Head

To my surprise and delight, about thirty students (and one adjunct faculty member) took my bait and turned up to discuss the possible intersections of spirituality and management. We had an interesting conversation and even met a second time. But inevitably, we were drawn back into the practical demands of our course work, as well as that pervasive “extra” course in business school: crafting the perfect résumé, securing the perfect job, planning the perfect life. Sadly, I came to the conclusion that spirituality and management were just plain incompatible.

The way I saw it, management is primarily concerned with the material and measurable, whereas spirituality is all about the immaterial and immeasurable. More to the point, a “good” manager has to be in control. She does not want to be surprised, astonished, or humbled. A “good” manager is not expected to show vulnerability, make mistakes, or admit that she does not know. She wants life to go according to plan; she needs to deliver expected results. But a spiritual seeker is just the opposite: she lives to be humbled, astonished, amazed, and to discover that her view of reality is limited. She likes the fact that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in her philosophy.

And so on graduation, the only clear path for me was the unclear one. Instead of looking for a management job, I moved to Ireland, where, at that time, there was still ample time in the day for wondering. I studied and practiced experiential psychotherapy, learning how the body contains wisdom of which the head is unaware. I studied breathwork with Dr. Stanislav Grof, the dean of non-ordinary states of consciousness, and in my breathwork experiences, I had my assumptions about reality shattered repeatedly. I wrote plays, collaborated with artists from other cultures, and studied the symbolism of dreams. I began to practice Zen where, sitting for long periods of time, I learned again and again how little I knew. In this period of my life, the very idea of goal setting became almost sinful to me. I was generally not interested in results; process was everything. My time was devoted to the timeless.

Getting Back to Business

And then one day, about 15 years later, I was asked to teach meditation to a group of corporate lawyers. At first, I assumed that this would be a fairly typical meditation class; that we would have at least several hours outside the office in a lovely setting. I assumed that the lawyers would wear relaxed clothes; that for them, it would be “time out.”

But it was actually the opposite.

The team leader informed me that all of their training sessions were just an hour long and always held in-house. And although I was assured of having a beautiful room for this, the “beautiful room” turned out to be the boardroom. And the hour turned out to be the lunch hour. And the boardroom table was laid with trays of elegant sandwiches, potato chips, cakes, coffee, and tea.

When the lawyers entered, wearing sharp suits, sharp skirts, sharp shoes, and very sharp minds, I realized that their mood was far from that which you would encounter at a typical meditation retreat. These were type-A people (as I had once been)—highly verbal, skeptical, heady, driven. And whereas I had come to teach meditation, they had come for lunch.

The Moment of Decision

So I jettisoned my plans. After a very brief introduction, I explained that we would jump right in with a short meditation, and I asked them not to eat beforehand. Although the concept of doing short meditation was rather unusual (in fact, I’d never tried it before), I said that it would work better if they would really “go for it.” This is not a typical meditation instruction, of course, but these lawyers appreciated the challenge.

To my great surprise, something happened. Several of the lawyers reported that they felt a small but significant shift in their state of mind. More interestingly, the whole tone in the room changed. Everything seemed quieter, as if there were more space in the air. The lawyers, when they spoke, spoke more quietly, as if their words were more considered, and they were listening a bit more. From this experience, I realized just how useful brief meditation could be. These lawyers could use brief meditation before arguing a case (to settle their nerves), before making a difficult phone call (to focus their minds), or at the end of the day (to leave their stress at work).

Gradually, I began to refine this idea, developing a philosophy of meditation (and an approach to meditation training) that I call “One-Moment Meditation.” One-Moment Meditation begins with an exercise that takes just one minute a day. Yes, just one minute. The point is to learn that it doesn’t take much time to make a meaningful change in your state of mind. Then, as the training progresses, you learn how to do this same exercise in less and less time, until you can do it in just a moment. In the blink of an eye.

On the surface, this practice has immense appeal for anyone who is busy, for whom even five minutes — in our crazy-busy world — seems like an eternity. But it is deeper than that. It is based on the idea that one moment of focused attention can have an enormous impact. It is based on the idea that just one moment really can change your life. It is based on the idea that this moment, right now, is really all there is, so you might as well get right to it.

Why Not Now?

There is some spiritual justification for this unconventional approach. For although our greatest spiritual teachers were those who spent many years in contemplation—people who left the ordinary world for many years “in the wilderness”—their core teaching comes down to this: Be here now. And if the ultimate teaching is to be here now, then why not start right here and now? Why wait for the end of the journey in order to begin it?

I began to see that our belief that meditation requires a long time or a special place actually can be a form of procrastination. I am not against longer periods of meditation, and I continue to practice in that way. But I believe that instead of thinking about how long it takes to meditate or how long we can sustain meditative awareness, we really should just get right to it. We should do a moment of meditation right now. And right now. And right now.

Meeting the Mind of a Manager

As I began to teach One-Moment Meditation in workplaces — to corporate executives, doctors, nurses, and to many stressed-out office workers — I began to see how useful the meditative mind could be in the world of work. By stripping meditation of many of its cultural associations, right down to its core idea, and making it very portable, I had discovered a point of contact with the managerial mind. Indeed, in the book The Drucker Difference, Jeremy P. Hunter, PhD, of the Drucker School of Management, writes that meditation can help managers with what he calls “self-management.” Mindfulness meditation, he believes, can help managers focus better, direct their attention better, overcome multitasking, and become more sensitized to their reactive (i.e., unconsidered) emotions. In other words, managers can use meditation to get a grip on themselves and therefore manage better.

For me, however, this doesn’t go far enough. Meditation can also help managers learn that it’s okay, from time to time, to stop managing. For it is in the unmanaged moments—those moments when we are not in control, when we not sure of the answer, when we are curious, humble, and quiet—that inspiration is most likely to strike. Meditation training can also help managers listen better, relate better, and by developing a calmer personal presence, promote calmness in times of anxiety. Meditation training can help managers become more aware of their values, make more enlightened decisions, and bring more compassion into their actions.

Through coaching and workplace training, I am now helping leaders and teams to get in the habit of pausing periodically to clear their minds, to “refresh their browsers,” and tap into a deeper stillness within them. But stillness is not the be-all and end-all; the meditative mind is actually quite dynamic. Meditation also helps you cope with change, respond to external situations more appropriately, and take appropriate and effective action.

A Way Forward

In the 25 years since my graduation, the nature of management education has changed considerably. The Yale School of Management has a new curriculum, more rooted in the real complexity of the world and with a strong emphasis not just on management but on leadership.

And the study of leadership requires the development of character, for which the primary issues are values, personality, judgment, and wisdom. Leadership training recognizes that different people have (and different situations require) different leadership styles, and that people, in all of our unpredictability, are part of the picture. In other words, the study of leadership puts the mystery of human psychology firmly at the center of the conversation. And as contemplative practices continue to become more mainstream, I imagine a future in which more managers will be leaders in the best sense of the word—helping people not just achieve goals but also become wiser and more realized. I imagine a day when meditation, already a proven tool for growing consciousness, will become a standard practice in the education of leaders. I imagine a day when leaders are skilled at taking time out for reflection and insight, and teams pause regularly to center themselves. And I also imagine a time when the meditative mind will be considered a vital tool in the development of organizations, helping whole systems be more awake, flexible, responsive, vibrant, and “in the moment.”

Learn One-Moment Meditation Online

Martin Boroson has developed an online course, OMM365, that gives you gradual training in One-Moment Meditation, a little bit at a time, over the course of a year. You receive a lesson — one per week for 52 weeks — via email or directly through his website. Once you download these to your computer or MP3 player, you can listen to them whenever and wherever you like. You also get a written transcript each week to keep as a course book. In these lessons, each one just 5 to 15 minutes long, Martin personally guides you in the art of One-Moment Meditation, one step at a time. Some of the lessons are more practical, some more philosophical, but each one gives you an exercise to try that takes just one minute (or less) each day.

OMM365 is structured to give you a gradual but profound transformation in every area of your life. You will learn how to use One-Moment Meditation to calm your mind, make better decisions, cope better with stress, and help you with insomnia, anxiety, emergencies, and allof life’s challenges, from job interviews and traffic jams to panic attacks and difficult transitions. You will learn how to tap the power of just one moment to refresh your day and give you a whole new start, right now.

How to Meditate in a Moment

Although the purpose of One-Moment Meditation is to help you to tap an experience of deep peace in just a moment, we start with a minute. This is because a moment goes by so quickly, you’d have to be a master to notice one. A minute, however, is like a moment with handles on it. You know where it begins and ends, so it’s easier to grasp. So we begin with an exercise that I call the “Basic Minute.”

Try to do the Basic Minute in a quiet place, once a day. The only equipment you will need is a timer. The timer is essential because for this exercise, it is important for you to let go of your own anxiety about time, to stop “holding” time for yourself, and to prove to yourself that this exercise really only takes a minute. You can do the Basic Minute several times a day, but please don’t do it for longer than a minute at one time. If you want to do longer meditation, that is great; just do it some other time. This is because the whole point of the Basic Minute is for you to learn that you truly can tap a deep experience of peacefulness in a very short amount of time. If you do it longer, you’re cheating.

It is very likely that while you are doing this exercise, you will get distracted. That is perfectly normal. But when that happens, just say something nice and nonjudgmental to yourself, like “hmm,” and bring your mind back to your breathing. You may not experience perfect peace or complete enlightenment during this exercise (though it is possible). But even if you just manage to turn down the volume of your thinking, even if you manage to just reduce your stress level a little bit, isn’t that valuable? You will then approach the next minute in a much better frame of mind.

When most people first do the Basic Minute, they feel that it goes by very quickly. But with practice, you will drop into a state of peacefulness more quickly and more deeply, and in doing that, you will discover that there is actually a lot of time in a Minute. In other words, the more you settle into the Minute, the more space you will find there. Once you’ve practiced the Basic Minute, you might like to try more advanced training in One- Moment Meditation, which shows you how to make a Minute much more useful and flexible, with exercises such as the Portable Minute, the Emergency Minute, the Bonus Minute, and the Surprise Minute. You then will learn how to reduce the length of the minute gradually, until you can get the same sense of equanimity in just a moment. Then you can experience peacefulness wherever you are and stillness even when you’re on the go.

You will also learn the enormous power of just a moment. For although we think of a moment as fleeting and therefore rather insignificant, the word “moment” actually comes from a Latin word meaning “a particle sufficient to turn the scales.” In other words, one moment is revolutionary. A moment can change everything.

The Basic Minute

1. Find a place of solitude.

2. Sit down.

3. Place your legs in a relaxed but fixed position.

4. Sit up.

5. Set your alarm for exactly one minute.

6. Place your hands in a relaxed but fixed position.

7. Close your eyes.

8. Focus on your breathing.

9. When the alarm sounds, stop.


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Will a Kinder, Gentler CEO Be More Effective?

Will a Kinder, Gentler CEO Be More Effective? | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Yale University School of Management; and William George, Harvard Business School professor, discuss how mindful leadership can provide unexpected productivity in the workplace.
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Here's What Google Teaches Employees In Its 'Search Inside Yourself' Course

Here's What Google Teaches Employees In Its 'Search Inside Yourself' Course | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
Google's class on mindfulness training, called "Search Inside Yourself," regularly has a wait list stretching six months.

 

"Self-knowledge: "Once your mind is calm and clear, you can create a quality of self-knowledge or self-awareness that improves over time, and it evolves into self-mastery. You know about yourself enough that you can master your emotions,"


Via craig daniels
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Richard Branson on Self-Awareness for Leadership Growth

Richard Branson on Self-Awareness for Leadership Growth | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
Being more self-aware will help you improve as a leader. Virgin's CEO discusses how and why you can do this.
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Andrea Costantine's curator insight, September 13, 2013 4:47 PM

Awareness is the key component to becoming a compassionate leader. 

Andrew Melville's curator insight, October 15, 2013 3:27 AM

Great story about self awareness and how to make mistakes and learn from them.

John Michel's curator insight, January 31, 2014 8:35 AM

Wise words from one of the worlds most successful leaders, reminding us Self-awareness can help you to persevere as you carry out your plan.
 


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Like Physical Exercise Mindfulness Requires Practice and Purpose

Like Physical Exercise Mindfulness Requires Practice and Purpose | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
Misconceptions surround the practice of mindfulness, which is part meditation and part a greater awareness of the things around you.

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craig daniels's curator insight, March 26, 2013 10:44 AM

Often missing in many discussions about mindfulness are the dreaded words "Practice and Purpose." Mindfulness just seems to flow off the page and tongue like a spring flower blooming outside your window but, while mindfulness is a natural part of who we are being good at it takes practice and purpose.


In the post above Alina Tugend helps us to view mindfulness in a less abstract way by introducing leaders in the field and shares with us what they are thinking and saying about mindfulness practice.


“People have the sense that mindfulness is something they can do by focusing on a raisin for five minutes,” said Michael Baime, director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “That is mindful practice, but it takes more than that.”


Writing clearly about what's entailed in the quest to learn mindfulness Tugend gives us a refreshing look into the world of mindfulness without the religious trappings or the much too common elitism that accompanies many of the discussions.

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Resilience Through Mindful Leadership

Resilience Through Mindful Leadership | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it
In my experience, mindful people make much better leaders than frenetic, aggressive ones. They understand their reactions to stress and crises, and understand their impact on others.
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One-Moment Meditation for Managers

One-Moment Meditation for Managers | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it

How an MBA turned to meditation and in the process managed to turn meditation upside down.

While a student at the Yale School of Management, I decided to invite all the students, staff, and faculty to an informal discussion that I titled “Spirituality and Management?” This was in 1987, when the idea that spirituality and management could have something in common was very strange indeed. It was before yoga mats had become fashionable urban accessories, back when meditation was still seen as esoteric and foreign, back when the memory of the 1960s had been overshadowed by Reaganomics.

I decided to host this conversation because although I was enjoying my studies, there was some part of me languishing beneath the spreadsheets. I had already had some Zen-like realizations, some mystical openings, and had become an avid student of my dreams. From these experiences, I knew there was something more to life—something intangible, immaterial, uncountable—that could not be included in decision analysis and strategic plans. I sensed that a fundamental part of management education was missing.

A Brief History of Management Education

The practice of providing formal education to aspiring business managers—the typical MBA curriculum—began in the late nineteenth century, before the service economy and the information age, when the concerns of business were primarily industrial production. Although the goal was to bring a scientific approach to management, the scientific understanding of reality at that time was fundamentally different than it is now. It was before quantum physics, when matter was still solid and certainty was within our grasp. It was before theories of complexity and chaos revealed that we are embedded in systems far too complex for easy prediction. In other words, the first century of management education focused on things—things that could be counted and measured, things that behaved predictably. Good management was essentially a mechanical problem, a Newtonian endeavor. (And humans were just “resources.”)

This history of management influenced even the Yale School of Management, a relatively young and innovative business school, where many of the students came from a background in social activism and not-for-profit management. Thus, our core curriculum in the 1980s was still heavily dominated by accounting, data analysis, economic theory, and quantitative tools for decision making. It was still based on a linear, mechanical model of reality: if you do x, then you should get y.

Why Why I Fled the Head

To my surprise and delight, about thirty students (and one adjunct faculty member) took my bait and turned up to discuss the possible intersections of spirituality and management. We had an interesting conversation and even met a second time. But inevitably, we were drawn back into the practical demands of our course work, as well as that pervasive “extra” course in business school: crafting the perfect résumé, securing the perfect job, planning the perfect life. Sadly, I came to the conclusion that spirituality and management were just plain incompatible.

The way I saw it, management is primarily concerned with the material and measurable, whereas spirituality is all about the immaterial and immeasurable. More to the point, a “good” manager has to be in control. She does not want to be surprised, astonished, or humbled. A “good” manager is not expected to show vulnerability, make mistakes, or admit that she does not know. She wants life to go according to plan; she needs to deliver expected results. But a spiritual seeker is just the opposite: she lives to be humbled, astonished, amazed, and to discover that her view of reality is limited. She likes the fact that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in her philosophy.

And so on graduation, the only clear path for me was the unclear one. Instead of looking for a management job, I moved to Ireland, where, at that time, there was still ample time in the day for wondering. I studied and practiced experiential psychotherapy, learning how the body contains wisdom of which the head is unaware. I studied breathwork with Dr. Stanislav Grof, the dean of non-ordinary states of consciousness, and in my breathwork experiences, I had my assumptions about reality shattered repeatedly. I wrote plays, collaborated with artists from other cultures, and studied the symbolism of dreams. I began to practice Zen where, sitting for long periods of time, I learned again and again how little I knew. In this period of my life, the very idea of goal setting became almost sinful to me. I was generally not interested in results; process was everything. My time was devoted to the timeless.

Getting Back to Business

And then one day, about 15 years later, I was asked to teach meditation to a group of corporate lawyers. At first, I assumed that this would be a fairly typical meditation class; that we would have at least several hours outside the office in a lovely setting. I assumed that the lawyers would wear relaxed clothes; that for them, it would be “time out.”

But it was actually the opposite.

The team leader informed me that all of their training sessions were just an hour long and always held in-house. And although I was assured of having a beautiful room for this, the “beautiful room” turned out to be the boardroom. And the hour turned out to be the lunch hour. And the boardroom table was laid with trays of elegant sandwiches, potato chips, cakes, coffee, and tea.

When the lawyers entered, wearing sharp suits, sharp skirts, sharp shoes, and very sharp minds, I realized that their mood was far from that which you would encounter at a typical meditation retreat. These were type-A people (as I had once been)—highly verbal, skeptical, heady, driven. And whereas I had come to teach meditation, they had come for lunch.

The Moment of Decision

So I jettisoned my plans. After a very brief introduction, I explained that we would jump right in with a short meditation, and I asked them not to eat beforehand. Although the concept of doing short meditation was rather unusual (in fact, I’d never tried it before), I said that it would work better if they would really “go for it.” This is not a typical meditation instruction, of course, but these lawyers appreciated the challenge.

To my great surprise, something happened. Several of the lawyers reported that they felt a small but significant shift in their state of mind. More interestingly, the whole tone in the room changed. Everything seemed quieter, as if there were more space in the air. The lawyers, when they spoke, spoke more quietly, as if their words were more considered, and they were listening a bit more. From this experience, I realized just how useful brief meditation could be. These lawyers could use brief meditation before arguing a case (to settle their nerves), before making a difficult phone call (to focus their minds), or at the end of the day (to leave their stress at work).

Gradually, I began to refine this idea, developing a philosophy of meditation (and an approach to meditation training) that I call “One-Moment Meditation.” One-Moment Meditation begins with an exercise that takes just one minute a day. Yes, just one minute. The point is to learn that it doesn’t take much time to make a meaningful change in your state of mind. Then, as the training progresses, you learn how to do this same exercise in less and less time, until you can do it in just a moment. In the blink of an eye.

On the surface, this practice has immense appeal for anyone who is busy, for whom even five minutes — in our crazy-busy world — seems like an eternity. But it is deeper than that. It is based on the idea that one moment of focused attention can have an enormous impact. It is based on the idea that just one moment really can change your life. It is based on the idea that this moment, right now, is really all there is, so you might as well get right to it.

Why Not Now?

There is some spiritual justification for this unconventional approach. For although our greatest spiritual teachers were those who spent many years in contemplation—people who left the ordinary world for many years “in the wilderness”—their core teaching comes down to this: Be here now. And if the ultimate teaching is to be here now, then why not start right here and now? Why wait for the end of the journey in order to begin it?

I began to see that our belief that meditation requires a long time or a special place actually can be a form of procrastination. I am not against longer periods of meditation, and I continue to practice in that way. But I believe that instead of thinking about how long it takes to meditate or how long we can sustain meditative awareness, we really should just get right to it. We should do a moment of meditation right now. And right now. And right now.

Meeting the Mind of a Manager

As I began to teach One-Moment Meditation in workplaces — to corporate executives, doctors, nurses, and to many stressed-out office workers — I began to see how useful the meditative mind could be in the world of work. By stripping meditation of many of its cultural associations, right down to its core idea, and making it very portable, I had discovered a point of contact with the managerial mind. Indeed, in the book The Drucker Difference, Jeremy P. Hunter, PhD, of the Drucker School of Management, writes that meditation can help managers with what he calls “self-management.” Mindfulness meditation, he believes, can help managers focus better, direct their attention better, overcome multitasking, and become more sensitized to their reactive (i.e., unconsidered) emotions. In other words, managers can use meditation to get a grip on themselves and therefore manage better.

For me, however, this doesn’t go far enough. Meditation can also help managers learn that it’s okay, from time to time, to stop managing. For it is in the unmanaged moments—those moments when we are not in control, when we not sure of the answer, when we are curious, humble, and quiet—that inspiration is most likely to strike. Meditation training can also help managers listen better, relate better, and by developing a calmer personal presence, promote calmness in times of anxiety. Meditation training can help managers become more aware of their values, make more enlightened decisions, and bring more compassion into their actions.

Through coaching and workplace training, I am now helping leaders and teams to get in the habit of pausing periodically to clear their minds, to “refresh their browsers,” and tap into a deeper stillness within them. But stillness is not the be-all and end-all; the meditative mind is actually quite dynamic. Meditation also helps you cope with change, respond to external situations more appropriately, and take appropriate and effective action.

A Way Forward

In the 25 years since my graduation, the nature of management education has changed considerably. The Yale School of Management has a new curriculum, more rooted in the real complexity of the world and with a strong emphasis not just on management but on leadership.

And the study of leadership requires the development of character, for which the primary issues are values, personality, judgment, and wisdom. Leadership training recognizes that different people have (and different situations require) different leadership styles, and that people, in all of our unpredictability, are part of the picture. In other words, the study of leadership puts the mystery of human psychology firmly at the center of the conversation. And as contemplative practices continue to become more mainstream, I imagine a future in which more managers will be leaders in the best sense of the word—helping people not just achieve goals but also become wiser and more realized. I imagine a day when meditation, already a proven tool for growing consciousness, will become a standard practice in the education of leaders. I imagine a day when leaders are skilled at taking time out for reflection and insight, and teams pause regularly to center themselves. And I also imagine a time when the meditative mind will be considered a vital tool in the development of organizations, helping whole systems be more awake, flexible, responsive, vibrant, and “in the moment.”

Learn One-Moment Meditation Online

Martin Boroson has developed an online course, OMM365, that gives you gradual training in One-Moment Meditation, a little bit at a time, over the course of a year. You receive a lesson — one per week for 52 weeks — via email or directly through his website. Once you download these to your computer or MP3 player, you can listen to them whenever and wherever you like. You also get a written transcript each week to keep as a course book. In these lessons, each one just 5 to 15 minutes long, Martin personally guides you in the art of One-Moment Meditation, one step at a time. Some of the lessons are more practical, some more philosophical, but each one gives you an exercise to try that takes just one minute (or less) each day.

OMM365 is structured to give you a gradual but profound transformation in every area of your life. You will learn how to use One-Moment Meditation to calm your mind, make better decisions, cope better with stress, and help you with insomnia, anxiety, emergencies, and allof life’s challenges, from job interviews and traffic jams to panic attacks and difficult transitions. You will learn how to tap the power of just one moment to refresh your day and give you a whole new start, right now.

How to Meditate in a Moment

Although the purpose of One-Moment Meditation is to help you to tap an experience of deep peace in just a moment, we start with a minute. This is because a moment goes by so quickly, you’d have to be a master to notice one. A minute, however, is like a moment with handles on it. You know where it begins and ends, so it’s easier to grasp. So we begin with an exercise that I call the “Basic Minute.”

Try to do the Basic Minute in a quiet place, once a day. The only equipment you will need is a timer. The timer is essential because for this exercise, it is important for you to let go of your own anxiety about time, to stop “holding” time for yourself, and to prove to yourself that this exercise really only takes a minute. You can do the Basic Minute several times a day, but please don’t do it for longer than a minute at one time. If you want to do longer meditation, that is great; just do it some other time. This is because the whole point of the Basic Minute is for you to learn that you truly can tap a deep experience of peacefulness in a very short amount of time. If you do it longer, you’re cheating.

It is very likely that while you are doing this exercise, you will get distracted. That is perfectly normal. But when that happens, just say something nice and nonjudgmental to yourself, like “hmm,” and bring your mind back to your breathing. You may not experience perfect peace or complete enlightenment during this exercise (though it is possible). But even if you just manage to turn down the volume of your thinking, even if you manage to just reduce your stress level a little bit, isn’t that valuable? You will then approach the next minute in a much better frame of mind.

When most people first do the Basic Minute, they feel that it goes by very quickly. But with practice, you will drop into a state of peacefulness more quickly and more deeply, and in doing that, you will discover that there is actually a lot of time in a Minute. In other words, the more you settle into the Minute, the more space you will find there. Once you’ve practiced the Basic Minute, you might like to try more advanced training in One- Moment Meditation, which shows you how to make a Minute much more useful and flexible, with exercises such as the Portable Minute, the Emergency Minute, the Bonus Minute, and the Surprise Minute. You then will learn how to reduce the length of the minute gradually, until you can get the same sense of equanimity in just a moment. Then you can experience peacefulness wherever you are and stillness even when you’re on the go.

You will also learn the enormous power of just a moment. For although we think of a moment as fleeting and therefore rather insignificant, the word “moment” actually comes from a Latin word meaning “a particle sufficient to turn the scales.” In other words, one moment is revolutionary. A moment can change everything.

The Basic Minute

1. Find a place of solitude.

2. Sit down.

3. Place your legs in a relaxed but fixed position.

4. Sit up.

5. Set your alarm for exactly one minute.

6. Place your hands in a relaxed but fixed position.

7. Close your eyes.

8. Focus on your breathing.

9. When the alarm sounds, stop.


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Deep Listening: 3 techniques for tuning in to body, speech, and mind

Deep Listening: 3 techniques for tuning in to body, speech, and mind | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it

With cries of “Armageddon!” and “Baby killer!” the great U.S. health care debate reached its tortured climax. The debate was adversarial, angry, hateful, even violent—a long-running case study in dysfunctional communication. Politicians on both sides were trapped in scripts that required them to assert fixed political positions and ignore or attack what the other side was saying, and rarely to share their true thoughts and feelings. Cable television pundits leapt into the fray like gladiators, interrupting and outshouting each other with fierce abandon.

The health care imbroglio may be an extreme example, but it reflects a larger pathology in our culture, one that is driven by adversarialness on the one hand and disingenuousness on the other. If we are to survive in the twenty-first century we must become better communicators, speaking and listening honestly and compassionately across diversity and difference.

Unsatisfying communication is rampant in our society: in relationships between spouses, parents, and children, among neighbors and co-workers, in civic and political life, and between nations, religions, and ethnicities. Can we change such deeply ingrained cultural patterns? Is it possible to bring about a shift in the modes of communication that dominate our society? Contemplative practices, with their committed cultivation of self-awareness and compassion, may offer the best hope for transforming these dysfunctional and damaging social habits.

A fruitful place to begin work on shifting our patterns of communication is with the quality of our listening. Just as we now understand the importance of regular exercise for good health, we need to exercise and strengthen our ability as listeners.

Poor listeners, underdeveloped listeners, are frequently unable to separate their own needs and interests from those of others. Everything they hear comes with an automatic bias: How does this affect me? What can I say next to get things my way? Poor listeners are more likely to interrupt: either they have already jumped to conclusions about what you are saying, or it is just of no interest to them. They attend to the surface of the words rather than listening for what is “between the lines.” When they speak, they are typically in one of two modes. Either they are “downloading”—regurgitating information and pre-formed opinions—or they are in debate mode, waiting for the first sign that you don’t think like them so they can jump in to set you straight. All these behaviors were abundantly on display in the health care debate.

Good listening, by contrast, means giving open-minded, genuinely interested attention to others, allowing yourself the time and space to fully absorb what they say. It seeks not just the surface meaning but where the speaker is “coming from”—what purpose, interest, or need is motivating their speech. Good listening encourages others to feel heard and to speak more openly and honestly.

Carl Rogers, the great American psychologist, taught “active listening,” a practice of repeating back or paraphrasing what you think you are hearing and gently seeking clarification when the meaning is not clear. Deep Listening, as we present it in our workshops, incorporates some of the techniques of active listening, but, as the name suggests, it is more contemplative in quality. (The phrase “deep listening” is used in different ways by different people; we capitalize it when representing our approach.)

Deep Listening involves listening, from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself, to deeper and often subtler levels of meaning and intention in the other person. It is listening that is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate, and trusting. Trust here does not imply agreement, but the trust that whatever others say, regardless of how well or poorly it is said, comes from something true in their experience. Deep Listening is an ongoing practice of suspending self-oriented, reactive thinking and opening one’s awareness to the unknown and unexpected. It calls on a special quality of attention that poet John Keats called negative capability. Keats defined this as “when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

Our approach to Deep Listening focuses first and foremost on self-awareness as the ground for listening and communicating well with others. This may seem paradoxical—paying more attention to ourselves in order to better communicate with others—but without some clarity in our relationship to ourselves, we will have a hard time improving our relationships with others. A clouded mirror cannot reflect accurately. We cannot perceive, receive, or interact authentically with others unless our self-relationship is authentic. Likewise, until we are true friends with ourselves, it will be hard to be genuine friends with others.

Deep Listening is a way of being in the world that is sensitive to all facets of our experience—external, internal, and contextual. It involves listening to parts we frequently are deaf to, attending to subtleties of the three realms of experience that Buddhism calls “body, speech, and mind.” In order to balance and integrate body, speech, and mind, Deep Listening teaches three different but complementary contemplative disciplines: Buddhist mindfulness–awareness meditation to clarify and deepen mental functioning; the

Alexander Technique to cultivate awareness of the body and its subtle messages; and Focusing, a technique developed by psychologist and philosopher Eugene Gendlin that utilizes “felt-sensing” to explore feelings and nurture intuitive knowing.

Mindfulness: Awareness Meditation

In sitting meditation practice, sometimes called peaceful abiding, we learn to settle, returning over and over again to the present moment and allowing our thoughts to come and go without acting on them. In the process, we see how our self-absorption keeps us from experiencing the world directly. Letting go of the “web of me” is the first step toward seeing and hearing others more fully.

In our Deep Listening workshops we give basic instruction in sitting meditation, with particular emphasis on being bodily present. Hope draws on her many years of Alexander practice to help each person find a sitting posture that is right for them, gently placing her hands on their shoulders, neck, and back. “Follow my hands,” she will sometimes whisper, encouraging students to let their body respond without deliberate effort by letting go of habitual patterns and freeing itself into ease and balance.

During sitting periods we often read from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness. These teachings, with their vivid language and images, are extraordinarily evocative of what one actually experiences as one practices mindfulness–awareness:

On mindfulness of body: “The basic starting point for this is solidness, groundedness. When you sit, you actually sit. Even your floating thoughts begin to sit on their own bottoms.”

On mindfulness of life: “Whenever you have a sense of the survival instinct functioning, that can be transmuted into a sense of being, a sense of having already survived.”

On mindfulness of effort: “The way of coming back is through what we might call the abstract watcher… The abstract watcher is just the basic sense of separateness—the plain cognition of being there before any of the rest develops.”

Mindfulness–awareness practice is a way of fundamentally making friends with ourselves, based on an attitude of gentle, non-reactive noticing. This attitude is the key to success not only in sitting meditation, but equally in Alexander work and Focusing.

The Alexander Technique

Meditation helps us to develop equanimity and not be pushed and pulled by our life circumstances. The Alexander technique takes this attitude off the cushion and into our lives.

Living more fully in our bodies is the anchor to the present moment in all our activities. It allows us to care for and listen to ourselves even while we respond to the many demands of our lives. This is an ideal place from which to listen to others with care and attention

Our way of perceiving and responding to our world has a physical shape and quality. Generally that shape consists of either slumping or holding ourselves too rigidly in “good posture.” Either way, we are interfering with our freedom and the life-giving movement of our experience. When we interfere with the free functioning of our systems, our sense of well-being and joy gets blocked, and our experience of the body is one of limited mobility, pain, stiffness, and tension.

We are all intrinsically upright, expansive, resilient, and open. Watch any healthy young child and you will see this is true—they are naturally poised and balanced, they move easily, their spines are long, they move on their joints, and they embody a curiosity and interest in the world. They are alive! This is a far cry from the way most adults experience their bodies. But we were children once too, and we can move like that again.

The Alexander Technique teaches us to notice the ways we interfere with that kind of joy and freedom. Rather than doing more, we learn to let go of what we’re doing that gets in our way. Because our habits are so entrenched, they are hard to discern. In fact, they feel right to us. For example, someone with lower back pain has no knowledge that they lean way back while standing and moving, thus putting pressure on their lumbar vertebrae. That stance feels perfectly upright to them, and when in an Alexander lesson they are guided to a more balanced upright place, that place initially feels wrong, as if they are falling forward. They can see in the mirror that they are upright, but they don’t feel that way.

By becoming intimate with our habits and, in contrast, experiencing the quality of ease and lightness the new place offers, the kinesthetic sense becomes more sensitive and reliable over time. Since kinesthesia provides us with information on our weight, position, and movement in space, it is closely tied with our perception of ourselves and our world. As it becomes more trustworthy, we develop confidence that the feedback we are receiving is sound. We are less prone to interpretation and more in tune with direct experience. This is an essential aspect of skillful listening.

A recent retreat participant described the transformative experience of the Alexander process in this way: “I connected deeply with the relationship between the holding patterns of my body and my state of mind. I was able to observe the subtleties of these holding patterns, how they interconnect throughout my whole being and how they are part of ego’s mechanism to shield me from the raw, rugged, and tender aspects of my being. When you acknowledge these experiences and hold them with a sense of appreciation, they soften and allow more space, both in body and mind. The gradual unwinding of patterns of tension and constriction was palpable throughout the group as well.”

Focusing

Focusing is a contemplative practice drawing from Western philosophy and psychology that cultivates three vital inner skills: self-knowing, caring presence, and intuitive insight. Cultivating these inner skills allows us to bring the wisdom of our whole life experience to bear on solving problems and reaching decisions.

The practice of Focusing involves noticing and welcoming felt senses. Felt senses are indistinct sensations that ordinarily lie below the radar of attention, but which can be noticed and felt if we are receptive to them. Felt senses don’t have the clearly defined quality of purely physical sensations like touching a hot stove or stubbing your toe. They are initially quite vague or fuzzy. They are nonconceptual, yet they relate to parts of our lives—work, relationships, fears, creative challenges. They have a quality of “aboutness,” even when we can’t tell specifically what they are about.

Occasionally a felt sense shows up that can’t be missed—like having a “knot” in your stomach, a “lump” in your throat, or a “broken” heart. All of these are distinctly felt in the body, and yet are clearly “about” events and situations in our lives. But most felt senses are so subtle that we don’t notice them. They lie below the level of ordinary feelings, but they can be triggers of strong emotion. An episode of anger may be preceded by an inner tightening, a jittery sensation, a sinking feeling. If we can notice these slight inner sensations before we erupt in anger, we gain psychological space in which to choose our words and actions rather than being overtaken by them. It is the difference between reacting and responding.

Felt senses function as a kind of borderland between the unconscious and the conscious. Being with felt senses in a patient, friendly way primes the pump of intuition. Although intuition by its nature is spontaneous and can’t be forced, if we know how to enter the borderlands of the felt sense, we prepare the ground for intuition to strike. When it does, we gain unexpected insights that can manifest as fresh articulation and action.

In Focusing we break into partnerships, with each partner taking turns Focusing and listening. The listener’s job is simply to be present and by their presence to hold a space for the other person to explore their felt senses and chosen issues. It is not the listener’s job to “be helpful,” to problem-solve or commiserate or evaluate, but simply to be mindfully present, including being mindful of their own felt senses as they arise. The listener also learns how to give simple verbal reflections that help Focusers check if the words they have come up with truly and accurately represent the meaning embodied in the felt sense. When assisted in this way, most people discover that they are able to go to and stay at a deeper level in themselves than if they were ruminating alone.

The partners train in both listening to others and listening to themselves. In daily life interactions, the two sides of this equation are equally important. You want to be open and spacious to really hear others; at the same time you are tracking your inner responses and noting when something doesn’t feel right. When you can notice this before you say or do something you may later regret, it is much less likely that you will trigger a negative upsurge in the other person. And because human beings automatically alter their behavior to synchronize with those they are interacting with, the quality of your listening supports the other to be more present, at ease, and authentic.

The combination of these three contemplative practices can have potent effects. Practitioners of Deep Listening learn to contact unresolved, stuck, or wounded places in themselves and to hold them with self-empathy. As they contact how the body holds those situations and listen to the body on its terms, they find meaning and wisdom for how each situation wants to resolve itself. The willingness to touch the discomfort makes for a more resilient, more pliable human being, and as we become better able to tolerate and work with the ups and downs in our own lives, we become more skilled in keeping others company as they navigate their own calm or turbulent seas.

The practice of Deep Listening cultivates self-listening as the foundation for listening and communicating well with others. Heightened awareness of the subtletiesof one’s own body, speech, and mind is the foundation for genuinely receptive, accurate, and compassionate listening and speaking. If enough people in our culture can learn and practice these inner skills, a shift from highly dysfunctional to highly functional modes of communication can happen, offering hope that we can enjoy healthier, more fulfilling relationships with the people in our personal lives and all those with whom we share community, country, and planet.

Exercise: Head and Neck

As you are reading this text right now, notice how you are in your body. Are you slumping or leaning to one side? Where is your head in relation to your spine? Is it forward, taking your spine with it? Without changing anything, take some time to just be with what you find.

Notice your shoulders and arms as you hold the magazine. Do you sense some muscular tension or extra work going on in any part of your body? Shut your eyes and sense the internal quality of the shape you’re in. Do you sense any movement in your body as you breathe? Any lack of movement? What is your state of mind like? Notice all of this with curiosity and friendly regard.

Now put the magazine down so that your hands are free but you can still read the text. Feel the fullness of your neck extending up behind your jaw. If you put your fingers in your lower ears and imagine they could touch, that is where your head meets the very top vertebra of the spine, called the atlas. Like all joints, it is a place of movement. 

 Now, sit for a moment without back support on the edge of a chair. Remember where your head meets your spine—between your ears—and, without trying, let go of any tightness in your neck to allow your head to balance easily and with mobility at the top of the spine. The poise of your head is facilitated by dropping your nose a bit to invite a slight forward rotation of your head on your spine. Even though your head is heavy, when it is balanced on its structure—not held or positioned—it floats and becomes weightless. This allows the whole body to respond by expanding and opening.

Now as you look down to read, allow your head to tip forward from the top of your spine, not interfering with the fullness and ease of your neck. Notice the quality of that in contrast to the way you were reading at the beginning.

Exercise: Clearing a Space

Clearing a Space is the first step in the Focusing technique. Its purpose is to clear a space of open receptivity before directing attention to a particular project or issue. It can be done at any time or place and it is especially useful when one is stressed or facing a challenge.

First, relax, close your eyes, and bring awareness to your body. Do a brief body scan to notice any places that might appreciate a moment of caring attention. Then become aware of your body as a whole, sensing how it feels to be present and resting on solid earth. Whether we are on a chair, a cushion, or on the grass, earth is always there supporting us: trust it and relax. See if you can find a level of simple presence—a sense of basic well-being that is always there regardless of life’s ever-changing textures.

Now bring awareness into the torso region, from your neck down to your bottom, and move your awareness gently around this sensitive, three-dimensional, alive space. As you do so, notice any felt senses, subtle sensations that have a certain tangible quality—hard/soft, smooth/jagged, calm/jittery, warm/cool, still/moving, and so forth. Don’t spend more than a few moments with any one felt sense and if your discursive mind goes into gear, gently notice that and return to your bodily sensed inner experience. Even if you don’t find anything that you think is a felt sense, notice the sensation of “not finding it.”

This is like clearing a workspace on a messy desk, knowing the papers you file away will be there when you are ready to attend to them. You may find it helpful to imagine actually placing each concern you find somewhere outside of your body. With these out of the way, rest in a sense of deep calm and receptive openness until it feels right to move on.


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Meditating Your Way To More Effective Leadership

Meditating Your Way To More Effective Leadership | Mindful Leadership Resources | Scoop.it

 

The Drucker School of Management and Wharton Business School both offer courses in mindfulness meditation. Virginia Tech is sponsoring "contemplative practices for a technological society," a conference for engineers who integrate contemplative disciplines into their work. Google offers courses in meditation and yoga

 

Aetna, Merck, General Mills--the list goes on--all are exploring how meditation can help their leaders and employees agilely thrive in today's fast-paced business environment. And the benefits are widely publicized: sustained attention span, improved multi-tasking abilities, strengthened immune system, increased emotional intelligence, improved listening skills...And there is science behind such claims.


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Jem Muldoon's curator insight, February 15, 2013 4:15 PM

When top business schools highlight the importance of mindfulness with courses for future leaders, we now have precedence for including it in educational leadership training.

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, February 15, 2013 7:01 PM

I like the ideas that mindfulness is combined with Peter Drucker's work and that large companies are looking at meditation as something that will benefit employees.

Lauran Star's curator insight, March 19, 2013 11:43 AM

What really happens when we meditate? How can such a simple act of sitting still actually cultivate agile, talented leaders? Read this article to learn more.