Cultivating Awareness

Mindfulness is awareness of the interconnected communication loop between the body and brain that influences the perception and behavior of ourselves and our environment. While it requires a mental effort, it is an exercise that requires drawing on all our senses. It is a practice that involves bringing our attention to the present moment without judgment. It’s about being fully aware of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the environment surrounding us. 

Rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, mindfulness encourages us to experience each moment as it unfolds. Within its unfolding, it is helpful to combine mindfulness with loving kindness; the latter of which is more directed to our awareness in the physical realm. Often these two are combined to be certain to balance the mind with the body.

Mindfulness is a practice rooted in ancient contemplative traditions, particularly in Buddhism,  it has also gained widespread popularity in modern psychology and other wellness practices. At its core, mindfulness involves intentionally paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity, and acceptance.

Think of mindfulness as a framework to prepare for approaching transitions. By integrating your practice of mindfulness and loving-kindness into your transition process, you can navigate change skillfully and with a greater sense of inner peace. We will speak more about this in our final blog next month which brings closure to our series on Transitions.

Here are some key aspects of mindfulness:

  • Present Moment Awareness: Bring your attention to the here and now, focusing on your current experiences, sensations, thoughts, and emotions without getting caught up in past regrets or future worries.
  • Non-Judgmental Awareness: Observe your experiences without judgment or criticism. This means accepting your thoughts and feelings as they are, without labeling them as “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong.” These are judgments that when used to express our opinion of another’s effort, particularly in a business setting, can have an adverse effect on the receiver of such judgmental words. As a result, while we may not be conscious of their effect, the impact is felt and can often lead to the very reason people choose to move on to opportunities in other organizations.
  • Acceptance and Letting Go: Develop your ability to accept issues, circumstances, and situations as they are in the present moment, even when they are difficult or uncomfortable. It’s about letting go of the impulse to control or change things and instead allowing them to unfold naturally.
  • Awareness of Thoughts and Emotions: Become more aware of your thoughts and emotions as they arise, observing them with curiosity and without attachment rather than becoming overwhelmed by them.
  • Focused Attention: Focus your attention on a specific object or function, such as your breath, bodily sensations, or an external stimulus such as the flame of a candle. This helps anchor your awareness in the present moment and prevents your mind from wandering.
  • Cultivation of Compassion: While awareness and acceptance are primary, you will also want to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness towards yourself and others. This involves treating yourself with gentleness and understanding, especially during challenging times such as transitioning through change.
  • Practice and Skill Development: Mindfulness is a state of being and a skill that can be developed through regular practice. Activities such as meditation, mindful breathing, body scans, expressing loving-kindness and mindful movement, (i.e. yoga or tai chi) are common ways to cultivate it.

This developed quality is a powerful tool for promoting mental well-being, reducing stress, and enhancing self-awareness. It can be applied in various aspects of life, from managing everyday stressors to navigating major life transitions with greater resilience and clarity. You will recall my sharing about this in our May blog on “The ART of Listening.”

Discover the Role of Mindfulness in your life.