My journey on the path to mindfulness began with an interest in meditation and Tibetan Buddhism. In 2009, I did an introductory course in Buddhism at the Tushita Meditation in McLeodganj.
Having dipped my toes into the ocean of Buddhist wisdom, I decided I was more fascinated with Buddhist practices like mindfulness than in the religion itself, and continued to follow the teachings of Shambala Buddhist teachers like Pema Chodron.
I can vouch for the fact that mindfulness and other alternative health practices have helped me heal a great deal of my childhood trauma, made me more resilient and able to deal with a lot of life’s ups and downs.
A good analogy for mindfulness is a calm, still lake in whose waters you can see your own reflection. Your mind is the lake and when it becomes calm and still, you can see yourself more clearly.
Mindfulness helps you slow down your ‘monkey mind’ so you can observe your habitual thoughts and actions (what Pema Chodron calls “shenpa”), and choose a different way to be.
The practice of mindfulness is a way for us to be still and let our minds become calm enough to deal with the daily pressures of life. Mindfulness can help you deal with stress, pain, illness, and medical symptoms.
A study by Griffith University researchers, titled ‘Mindfulness beyond wellbeing: Emotion regulation and team-member exchange in the workplace’ proved the benefit of mindfulness in dealing with burnout, as well as in maintaining and improving workplace relationships.
The researchers also showed that practising mindfulness meditation or mindfulness activities could potentially boost your baseline mindfulness. In this mindfulness meditation article, you’ll learn about mindfulness meditation benefits, tips, exercises and techniques.
Today, there are a number of scientific and evidence-based practices that draw on the benefits of mindfulness. But can it help you become a better leader in the workplace?
Here are 4 ways a mindfulness practice can boost your leadership skills:
Self-awareness or the ability to understand ourselves and how and why we react to triggers is one of the foundations of emotional intelligence.
People who display lack of self-awareness tend to blame others and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
They also repeat the same mistakes and patterns in their lives with no idea why things are not working out for them.
They tend to ascribe events to fate or luck, with no awareness of the role they’re playing in the outcome.
In the workplace, these are the people who are unable to set goals and work towards them, who play the victim and blame others for their failures.
Most of them also can’t keep a job since they cannot perform to the capacity required of them.
Mindfulness practices can help increase self-awareness by allowing us to see the role we play in making decisions and in relationships.
A good mindfulness coach can teach you how to put yourself in the place of the observer so you can see how and why you take poor decisions or react badly to other people at work.
Very similar to self-awareness, emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, identify, manage, and express our emotions.
However, self-awareness is just one component of emotional intelligence, which also encompasses the ability to handle relationships with others in a mature, empathic and healthy manner.
Emotional intelligence is an essential leadership quality as it is required to build, grow and motivate a team.
Just like it can help us boost self-awareness, mindfulness practice can also improve emotional intelligence by helping us become more aware and empathic of the emotions of our colleagues and co-workers.
One of the most important ways that mindfulness can help us at work and in our lives is through emotional self-regulation.
Emotion regulation is the ability to recognize your emotions and control them so you can respond to others authentically, in a healthy and non-harming way.
In the workplace, the ability to self-regulate our emotions helps us make more rational decisions, deal with stressors and respond to irritation, conflict and stress in a more mature fashion.
Good emotional regulation helps build trust, rapport, and is an essential leadership skill, as losing control of one’s emotions in the workplace can be seen as a weakness.
Managers and leaders who have low emotional intelligence and trouble with emotional self-regulation will inevitably find it hard to lead or motivate teams.
Mindfulness can teach us how to recognize and control our emotional responses by becoming the observer, so we can detach and objectively observe how we respond to our colleagues and to stressors at work.
Jan Bruce writes in Forbes that burnout is amplified by the inability to manage stress.
As some amount of stress is inevitable in the workplace, the solution to dealing with burnout is to build mental and emotional resilience skills into our work habits to deal with inevitable stressors.
A leader needs to deal with stress in a healthy way and staying mindful can help you boost your resilience so you can bounce back from stressful situations quickly.
As a leader, you can help your employees incorporate mindfulness practices into their daily life so they can learn resilience skills to deal with stress and keep burnout at bay.