Realize, that there are two mental phenomena that neuroscientists, psychologists, and leaders can refer to when they talk about mindfulness:
Most studies are done on the effects of mindfulness meditation, simply because it is understandably easier to study in the lab.
But studies have been done on both types of mindfulness and they conclusively show that one impacts the other: meditation and exercises increase mindfulness in everyday life.
And these same studies also show that mindfulness in everyday life has profound benefits on a person’s effectiveness and happiness.
So what is mindfulness meditation?
It is a form of meditation in which practitioners are asked to focus their mind on one thought and one thought alone, with the simultaneous goal of remaining fully aware of and “present" in the moment.
This typically means concentrating on the breath — observing each inhalation and exhalation — without consideration to other thoughts. Any stray thoughts that arise, are quickly recognized and dropped, and practitioners gently but firmly return their attention back to the present moment and the breath.
The goal of mindfulness meditation is to increase one’s ability to stay fully aware of the present moment and to keep one’s concentration on a desired object.
And the science says that it works: Studies have linked Meditation to larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter, resulting in:
Study participants also experience significant improvements in mindfulness and contemplative thoughts, the alleviation of depressive symptoms, and boosts to working memory and sustained attention.
Another study showed that people high on a mindfulness scale were more aware of their unconscious processes, which allowed them to have an aligned mind and better mindset. Additionally these people had more cognitive control, and a greater ability to shape what they do and what they say, than people lower on the mindfulness scale.
Sounds like some benefits tailor-made for fearless leaders, doesn't it?
Who among us wouldn’t like:
These are the benefits of having greater mindfulness during day to day living, and the key point here is that you can build greater day-to-day mindfulness with mindfulness meditation.
Combine greater mindfulness with an ability to reboot your mindset both before and during stress-filled moments, and you'll get all the benefits listed above at the exact times when they are most needed.
This allows a fearless leader to better regulate their behavior, improve their emotional intelligence, and to increase their mindset mastery, becoming less emotionally reactive, and more resilient in quickly recovering from negative emotions and setbacks.
Which raises the question: how does mindfulness accomplish all that?
If you really want to break it down, there are six active mechanisms in the brain that make up mindfulness:
These processes working in combination create mindfulness, and the important take-away is that ALL of them can be actively cultivated and strengthened through the right mental exercises.
If you're interested in mindfulness for its own sake, we recommend mindfulness meditation, which we cover in our tools.
But if you're primarily interested in mindfulness for it's ability to improve your leadership skills, your best bet is to get coaching from the Fearless Leaders Group.
And if you want get a free and fun test of the Fearless Leaders Group material, we suggest you start with our What Kind of Fearless Leader Are You Quiz.