Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one's reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.
by Bill George.
Prof. Bill George suggested an 'innovative' approach to leadership development by using 'mindful leadership.' However, he wanted to know 'How leaders can achieve mindful leadership.'
As a professional mediatator of Kouksundo (a Korean meditation), I hope to address this question in Kouksundo way.
1. There are six ways of practice for achieving mindfulness.
Nevertheless, there are huge amount of various meditation practices, we can categorize them into six keywords.
1. Focusing on breathing.
5. Chanting (Sining, Dancing).
6. Using mind-altering substances.
First of all, focusing on breathing is the most widely accepted and generally perceived as most secure practice for mindfulness. This practice can be found all over the world, however, this is mostly known as 'Buddhist meditation or Taoist meditation.'
Fasting, self-mortification, isolating can be seen in 'one God' disciplines such as Christianity, Islam, and Russian orthodox. Monks of these disciplines frequently isolate themselves from the world and practice fasting or sometimes torturing to approach 'Wholeness with God.'
Chanting is one of the most popular practices in Eastern areas. Buddhism in India, China, Korea, Japan, and East Asian countries are commonly 'chant' to focus on developing 'mindfulness and enlightenment.' Sufism in Turkey is another practice for mindfulness by dancing.
Using mind-altering substances practices are not popular but they still exists in China, Greece, and Islam. These practices are used seldom for its anti-social characteristics, but a few practitioners still try it to achieve 'fast' mindfulness.
Overall, focusing on breathing is most popular practice for mindfulness both in East and West since it is most safe and transferable.
Remarks: The terms: self-mortification and using mind-altering substances come from Deborah Knox's suggestion, and gratefully appreciate her contribution.
2. Evidences of mindfulness: Sweet Saliva and Heat.
Do you remember when did you leak saliva like a baby?
When is your last time to have saliva during your sleeping?
Because you're a gentleman or a lady, you don't have 'saliva' like baby?
You lost your saliva (naturally abundant and sweet) because you lost your power of 'Relaxation.'
Tons of stress and anxiety dried your mouth.
When a meditator reaches to a 'deep relaxation,' he/she has a lot of saliva in his/her mouth.
Thus, (Sweet) abundant saliva is the evidence of 'relaxation' which represents the level of reducing and eliminating 'stress.'
The less stress (like baby), the more saliva.
Another critical evidence of mindfulness is 'Heat.'
Regardless of different meditation practices, one can feel '(internal) heat or flame' when he/she perfectly focused and fully engaged in mind. This outcomes (heat) is the crucial evidence of 'Energization.'
The biggest difference between 'normal heat' and 'mindfulness heat' is the disciplined flow. Mindfulness heat, generated in the center of body, flows in a certain way (commonly from center - tail bone - spine - neck - brain - front body - center, as depicted in following figure) while the normal heat flows or popped-up in scatter regions or places of body.
In sum, leaders can achieve mindfulness through six different methods of practice. But the most popular one is 'focusing in breathing.'
Mindfulness can be measured by two critical evidences: (Sweet) abundant saliva and heat. Sweet saliva represent leaders' ability of "relaxation - stress management." And Heat is the critical evidence of "Energization."
Conclusion: Effective leadership can be trained and developed by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is not a magic nor an alchemy, but common sense. Leaders' ability of 'relaxation' and 'energization' affects to followers with regards to 'logics from relaxation' and 'energy from focused energization.' This is the reason why mindfulness is crucial to leadership.
Remarks: Introduction of Kouksundo Meditation is followed.
Jeonghwan (Philip) Choi,
Kouksundo Sabum (master),
Ph.D. student, Human Resource Education,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,