“What is mindfulness?” This is a question I get asked many times by busy students, jobseekers, and professionals who are trying to reduce stress in their daily lives. Sound familiar?! Mindfulness and meditation are popular terms in the health and wellness community. Through my conversations, I realized that many have heard the term, mindfulness, but lack the knowledge of what it entails and how to practice it.
To learn more about the practice myself and to find the answers to my readers’ questions, I began researching the topic of mindfulness. It was then that I stumbled upon an article by Lindy Norris, “Mindfulness: Not Just for West Coasters Anymore.” As a west coaster, the headline caught my eye, so I read it. At the end of the article a call to action lead me to another article, “Mindfulness for People who are too Busy to Meditate” by Maria Gonzalez (BCom, MBA), in the Harvard Business Review.
After reading Maria’s biography which highlighted her extensive background in the field of mindfulness, I reached out to Maria and invited her to explain the Record Worthy Practice with all of us. Maria and I both have connections to the University of Toronto, where I did my Master’s in Human Development & Applied Psychology and where she teaches Mindful Leadership (Random?!). Maria is a wonderful leader to teach us all about mindfulness; she has both a deep knowledge of the topic, as well as the practical tools on how to apply it in our daily lives – perfect combination!
Maria Gonzalez (BCom, MBA) is an award-winning and best-selling author and a 30-year business veteran as a corporate executive and entrepreneur. She believes that Mindfulness transforms lives and organizations, and that it has the potential to transform society. She has been meditating regularly since 1991 and teaching Mindfulness since 2002. She applies Mindfulness to all aspects of her life, both personally and professionally. As the founder and president of Argonauta Strategic Alliances Consulting Inc., she ensures that mindfulness is indistinguishable from her business, whether negotiating complex strategic alliances, doing strategy consulting, or coaching business leaders, professionals, entire teams, organizations or individuals in mindful leadership.
When I asked Maria about how mindfulness helps her achieve her personal best, Maria responded:
“We are all interested in being our personal best. But how can we do this in a sustainable way?
Our personal best is about being personally and professionally effective. It is about being resilient in the face of stress and the demands of our busy lives. And the most efficient and effective way to do this is to train the mind in the skill of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness, quite simply, is the ability to be present and aware moment by moment, no matter what the circumstances. With training it enables you to create calm and focus, at will.
When you are able to lead a Mindful life you become a true leader, a Mindful leader. This is very empowering, because now you control your mind rather than your mind controlling you. To witness this inspires others, and that’s what personal leadership is all about.
If developing the skill of Mindfulness appeals to you, you can start right away. There are many simple techniques you can use. All you need are 2-3 minutes to get started. One of those techniques is to focus on your breath. Become aware of the breath and allow it to become natural and relaxed. When your mind begins to wander (which it will), just very gently bring the mind back to the breath. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the mind focused and this becomes frustrating. Don’t get discouraged; imagine you are training a puppy. Soon you will surprise yourself.
You will soon notice that practicing in this way, as many days as possible in a week, for just a few minutes a day, will make you much more calm and focused, and enable you to be your personal best. Quite literally, over time, it will transform your life.
I describe numerous techniques in Mindful Leadership: The 9 ways to Self-Awareness, Transforming Yourself and Inspiring Others. I have also recorded over 70 Guided Meditations in the Mindful Leadership App, to help you develop a daily Mindfulness practice. Additionally, I write a regular Blog to inspire you to be Mindful personally and professionally, with simple actionable tips.”
Thank you, Maria, for sharing your Record Worthy Practice with all of us! You have shown us that mindfulness is simply the “skill of being present and aware, moment by moment, no matter what the circumstances.” This skill can be tricky in our busy lives, but we need to take the time to practice it. By letting our minds wander to thoughts about either the past or the future, it is easy to get distracted from being in the present moment. Sound familiar?! That is why I know how valuable it is to be mindful – to enjoy the present moment and to appreciate each step of one’s personal journey.
Since practicing mindfulness only takes a few minutes a day and helps reduce stress, we should schedule time for it daily! Let’s help each other make it happen. How can we encourage each other to make it sustainable so mindfulness can transform our lives?
Thank you for your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! We are all looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the practice of Mindfulness in the ‘Comments’ section below.
See you at the beach!