What is Mindful Meditation?
Mindfulness is a state of awareness that reduces fear, anxiety and stress; while increasing attention, clarity and well-being. It is a proven, straightforward path to better health, relationships and performance.
Mindful meditation is entirely secular and science-based, pursued through a range of contemplative, guided or mind/body integrative modalities. Over the last decade, research has shown that mindful meditation not only relieves stress, it alters regions of the brain associated with concentration, cognition and emotional intelligence — improving the ability to focus, plan, execute and work effectively with others to achieve goals.
Why is it so Important?
Meditation trains the mind to calm itself and concentrate amid today’s attention-deficit, tech-saturated home and workplace. It is a remarkable foundation for insight, focus and deep work.
We live in a volatile, uncertain, changing and ambiguous world, and we’re often adrift in a sea of distraction, anxiety and stress. Relentless change, overwhelming demands and our 24/7 connection to technology are producing burned-out leaders, toxic managers and exhausted workers. Meditation reverses the fallout of this chronic stress, while it improves productivity and performance.
Why is it Getting So Much Press?
Meditation is a startlingly effective intervention for stress, burn-out and chronic illness, and a powerful catalyst for improved cognition and emotional intelligence.
Wisdom practices have been the source of well-being and intellectual insight for thousands of years. But Western science is just beginning to understand what monks and spiritual mystics have known for millennia: the positive effects of meditation are physically, mentally and emotionally profound. This is big news, based on empirical evidence, with widespread implications for personal development, commerce and society.
Modern Secular Mindfulness
The foundations and emergence of today’s mindful meditation practice.
What is the Object of Meditation?
To achieve a state of attention with equanimity to the contents of consciousness, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Meditation nurtures an appreciation for the transitory nature of consciousness, and is a mental framework that can be applied to challenging old ideas, exploring new beliefs, modifying habits, and problem solving.
Cultivating this quality of mind can be as simple (or paradoxically, as complex) as concentrating on your breath. As straightforward as this sounds, there is nothing passive about meditation. It is an exercise that leads to physical changes in the brain, as well as altered cognitive and emotional states.
How Does it Work?
Mindful meditation trains the mind to become non-judgmentally aware in the present moment. By continually returning to an object of focus, the brain begins to discern distracting thoughts, and to regard them without attachment.
This perceptual discipline strengthens concentration, gives pause to reactivity, and is the base of self-awareness and self-regulation that supports insight and conscious change.
Is it Spirituality or Science?
Absent religious context, mindful meditation becomes a logical, pragmatic and powerful agent for personal and professional growth.
Though meditation is practiced by all five major world religions (Buddhism, Hindu, Judaism, Christianity and Islam), it delivers empirical insights about the nature of consciousness that are independent of doctrine or religious belief. Freed of dogma, cultivating this quality of mind dramatically improves capabilities that lead to more effective leadership, innovation, engagement, communications and productivity.
Mindful Meditation is Entering the Mainstream
More people are meditating, while the practice becomes ever less associated with religion.
How is it Practiced?
Mindful meditation was greatly popularized in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
According to Kabat-Zinn: “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way… On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
The most common form of mindful practice is seated, silent meditation, based on the Buddhist vipassana tradition — though meditation can be practiced standing, walking, reclining, or in concert with a range of body/mind modalities, including yoga, tai chi or qigong.
What Makes it So Powerful?
Mindful meditation is simple, straightforward and effective, producing benefits that begin almost immediately, and continue to expand. Sustained practice rewires the brain to improve the way we focus, think, solve problems and interact. At the same time, It reduces stress, anxiety and burnout, and is a tool for re-engaging and motivating workers.
No wonder it’s on the front page, all over social media, and already being used by elite athletes, high achieving executives and progressive organizations, worldwide.