What is Mindfulness?

One way to think of mindfulness is that it is the sensation of being aware that we're focusing our attention on something.  As we go through life mindfully, we experience a special kind of awareness of our thoughts, feelings and accompanying sensations in our body.

knowing that we’re paying attention... on purpose... in the present moment... non-judgmentally
— Jon Kabat-Zinn


We literally have tens of thousands of thoughts each day.  In the same way that our heart pumps blood and our lungs breathe air, our brains think thoughts.  This happens so naturally that we're usually not aware of our thoughts.  Being "mind-identified" refers to the times when we don't know we're thinking and are simply caught up in believing our incessant mental chatter.  We're so wrapped up in thinking that we lose awareness that we're thinking.  Mindfulness shifts us out of mind-identification into a special kind of awareness about our body and thoughts.  In the same way that we can shift our attention to noticing our heart beating or our lungs breathing, we can also shift our focus to noticing when we're thinking.


We also constantly experience an ebb and flow of a rich tapestry of emotions throughout the day.  We feel our emotions in our body and typically categorize them into "good" (i.e. pleasant) and "bad" (unpleasant).  The term "emotional intelligence" refers to our ability to be aware of, and regulate the impact of our emotions on our well-being and actions.  Since all emotions compel us to act in some capacity (wanting more or less of any given experience), becoming aware and mindful of what we're feeling is a vital leadership skill.

Body Sensations

Our bodies are amazing, sensitive machines and are constantly providing us with information about our surroundings.  Often times our body knows well before a conscious thought registers in our minds.  Through mindfulness we are also able to cultivate a deeper awareness of the sensations that accompany (and often are precursors) our thoughts and feelings.  The classic good or bad gut feeling provides important information that skilled leaders are highly attuned to.






Do you know your values?

Successful leaders are not only aware of their values but are consistently able to act in alignment with them.  This exercise will help you clarify and prioritize your values.  Begin

Mindfulness is a habit... it’s a skill that can be learned. It’s accessing something we already have. Mindfulness isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is to remember to be mindful.
— John Teasdale