Stop for just a moment and take everything in, within and around you, noticing without judging. This is mindfulness.
The NeuroLeadership Institute refers to mindfulness as “direct experience,” focusing on the brain circuitry activated when you’re being mindful. Think of it as being a video recorder or a sensory satellite receiving dish.
So why is mindfulness important to leaders?
Well, many workplaces create high levels of stress. Stress can trigger our “threat” circuitry … quickly ramping up our “fight or flight” response … simultaneously shutting down our prefrontal cortex (PFC), or executive brain.
The PFC is where higher ordered thinking, like judgement, creativity and complex decision-making, occur. Best to avoid shutting it down when possible.
For most of us, our opportunity to “hit the brakes” as we experience a threat is fleeting. Why? Because these brakes are located IN the PFC!
This is where mindfulness comes in. Research has shown that those with a strong “direct experience” network have stronger braking systems and are better able to manage a “threat” state. This translates into better access to the executive brain functions located in your PFC.
“But I don’t have time to meditate,” you groan.
You can strengthen your direct experience network just about anywhere, any time: walking to a meeting, on a train, at a traffic light, during lunch, upon waking….
Simply spend a few minutes noticing everything you’re sensing, internally and externally, without judging.
You can start small (a daily minute or two) and build from there. One study showed a dramatic improvement after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes a day for only FIVE days.
So if you want to work at your highest cognitive levels, take advantage of those fleeting moments and turn them into mindfulness moments.
[With thanks to this post’s guest author, Paul McGinniss of the NeuroLeadership Institute]Share via Email