Mindfulness is a big buzzword right now and can mean a lot of different things. I realize that I have been thinking of it in a few different ways and want to clarify why I share it as an important tool.
Mindfulness is a tool that can help develop self-awareness. To the extent that I share it with you here and with clients, it is a way of getting out of the conversation in the head and connecting with your whole self to be more aware of your full experience of a given moment.
When you have a space between the experience of self and the thoughts in your mind, you discover that you have choices, that the way you talk to yourself is not Truth and is not set in stone. You can hear what you think and make a choice about how you want to respond to it.
When we get lost in our thoughts, we forget that we are not only the thinker and the talker, but also the listener. When we connect with ourselves as the listener, we connect to a deeper inner wisdom.
Feel the palms of your feet against the floor and shift your awareness to the space where the surface of the foot meets the surface of your shoe or floor.
Feel your weight on your legs and feet or on your chair. Feel and notice how solid you are.
Notice the vertical energy that flows from your feet to your head and the horizontal expansive energy that crosses your chest and around your back from shoulder to shoulder.
Imagine that you are a mountain with the top of you head drifting into the clouds and the shoulders to feet being solidly grounded in the earth.
Your thoughts are the clouds.
Imagine the clouds floating in front of your eyes.
When a thought appears as a word, an image or anything else project it on to a cloud and let it float away.
Create that space between yourself the viewer and listener of the thought and the thought itself.
Ask yourself the following question and listen for the answer that comes: “What will I think of next?”
Did you feel the space between asking yourself the question and listening for the answer?
Watch the thoughts float by- they will move on in their own timing.
It can take time to find the experience of listening and becoming aware of yourself as the thinker. I will do this exercise again.
In the meantime, see if once in a while, you can ask yourself that question, “What will I think next?” and wait for the answer to appear.
Notice the gap.
Creating that space and that gap in your mind can be the difference between reacting without thinking and consciously choosing how you want to show up. This is a crucial skill for a leader whether it is leading in your own life or leading at work.