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Mindful Leadership

What Is Mindfulness, Really?

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There is a great deal of confusion about what Mindfulness is and is not. Part of the issue is the actual word itself. Because it is an english word we impose assumptions that may or may not be accurate.

Mindfulness is the english translation to the word Vipassana which means insight meditation. It represents the oldest form of meditation on the planet. And here is a place where confusion or resistance may arise. Some people bristle at the thought of meditation. For them it has a connotation of retreating from the world. It brings about images of monks in monasteries in distant lands, far removed from what they consider to be “real life”.

But Mindfulness is simply noticing the way things are. It is not a technique, it is skill – the skill of being aware without grasping or denying. Now, in order to develop that skill we use techniques.

These techniques are intended to train the brain and in time the brain actually rewires. We have seen through extensive scientific research that this indeed happens. I describe and cite this research extensively in Chapter 2 of Mindful Leadership.

So we know we can train or rewire the brain. But why bother? Why is that even desirable? The reason it matters is that with training, we can create calm and concentration at will. And there is no activity in our lives that will not benefit from enhancing these abilities. In fact, as a result you create a very powerful mind, one which you control rather than it controlling you.

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