What do you do after you wake up in the morning, get out of bed and brush your teeth?


Do you go check your email box? Perhaps you’ve done it
already because the iPhone lies next to you. What’s the status of your Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Google+? Any inquiry on your personal website? Has anyone contributed to your blog? How many voice mails do you have? What’s the latest news feed from CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN Money? How did the financial markets open?

How about multitasking and doing all of the above while drinking coffee and fretting over breakfast? If that’s the case for you, as it seems common for the majority of us, we abruptly feed our minds with a broad range of stimuli, input, and information. We might not even notice any more since we are in autopilot mode, engrained in our being by constant repetition. Our minds are happy to oblige since in their natural, untrained state they self-generate their own continuous stream of thoughts and feed off any external inputs with addictive pleasure. Actually we might even get a sense of empowerment and engagement. We might feel that this is necessary to keep the world moving. And it might even be. We’ll never know for sure if we leave the autopilot on.

What I know from personal experience in business and mindfulness is a simple truth: I must create room in my mind to be an effective leader, husband, father and friend. When I fail to generate that spacious awareness first thing in the morning, the natural stream of thinking, amplified by the hyper-digital environment we live in, creates a wild, scattered and ultimately less effective version of me. I end up going through the motions, and missing the present moment, drowning in mental chatter, engulfed in compulsive thinking. Worst of all, my leadership position requires me to inspire the people around me to bring their best selves to their job, and I feel forced to ignore my inner struggle. I pretend to tough it out, so eventually I do. Even though the anxiety, confusion and stress slowly saturate my system and lower my productivity. How can I see, meet and hear people when my mind is running wild behind the scenes?

On the contrary, when I do my practice early in the morning, I acquire a sense of spaciousness and go through the day with an alert awareness and a heightened presence that allows me to see more clearly through the incessant stream of situations, thinking, stimuli and emotions coming my way. My effective decision-making, positive influence and productivity dramatically increase.

beginning mindfulness practice can be as simple as 10 minutes of “conscious breathing.“ Carve out a dedicated, quiet corner in your house. You can even practice on a hotel bed while traveling for work. Sit possibly crossed legged, keeping a straight—not stiff—spine, shoulders relaxed, hands on your thighs. Keep the focus of your attention on the breath coming in. Pause for few seconds when the lungs are naturally full (no forced breath), then pay attention to your breath going out. No manipulation of breath is needed nor recommended at this stage. Place the “mind/attention” on the inflow and outflow of the breath. Eyes can be slightly opened pointed down about three feet in front of you with no specific focus. Thoughts and mental chatter will arise. Do not try to “tame” your thoughts. Let them be. That’s the natural state of the mind. The only thing we can do at this level is creating space around that incessant stream. This simple exercise (conscious breathing) and goal (create a tiny bit more space in our awareness) would help leaders and their teams to become more effective over time. Business organizations would benefit in a sustainable and ultimately more profitable way.

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