By JiJi Russell
As the weather turns chilly and the hustle-bustle begins, you might feel your own time compressing. What a perfect opportunity to take up meditation. Ten minutes a day, to begin, can offer a great antidote to the tendency toward insanity that seems to define the holiday season.
These days, the practice of meditation is being used within many structured environments, including corporate and medical, and with much documented success. Mindfulness practice, a type of secular meditation, requires no financial outlay and no equipment. The practice “simply” asks us to show up, pay attention, and become present as we hone our ability and turn inward and cultivate compassion, clarity, and/or guidance.
Some medical organizations and integrative health centers have dedicated entire facilities and programs to mindfulness practices and relaxation techniques as a means to reduce the impact stress can bear on us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Not too long ago, I attended a training course in “Mindful Leadership.” What a gift to be immersed in four days of training, which included intensive daily meditation and a detachment from electronic devices, all within a serene and majestic high mountain valley in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
We all serve in leadership roles from time to time—as a parent, a teacher, a supervisor, a community leader. Taking on these roles with a mind and a heart tuned with mindfulness will bring even greater integrity to those who look to you for guidance. Start with yourself and allow the experience you gain to better support others.
Leaders need the ability to recognize their own habits of mind and states of mental, physical, and emotional balance (or imbalance). In this way they can come from a more skillful place and respond to the many and urgent matters that arise at work and at home.
When we neglect our own inner work, we risk becoming victim to our own distracted minds and perhaps unskillfully reacting, instead of responding, to the people and situations at hand.
I learned a lot about my own path toward better balance at the training, I’m trying to ‘rewire’ my brain to break bad mental habits and give way to greater attention, clarity, and compassion.
During this time of year, and indeed, this time of great global conflict, we need to find and nurture a strong, steady core of goodness and resiliency. We need leaders who act in ways that are thoughtful, clear, and compassionate. We need to show those who depend on us what those ways of acting look like and how they feel. Meditation can help us defragment the parts; find commonality; and tap into a more true essence of who we are and what we have to offer.
If you have any feelings of stress or anxiety, I encourage you to explore the practice of meditation. Try it for just ten minutes a day, for one week. It costs nothing but your time and attention. Give yourself that gift, and you will be sharing it with others around you more than you might realize.
For several guided meditations (free), try the audio downloads of long-time instructor Tara Brach: http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html