Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence in Business

Although the term ‘Mindfulness’ often invokes an image of a monk sitting on a mountain chanting “OM,” neuroscience is proving this ancient practice is worthy of exploring today. Your true power lies in this moment. If you understand who you are and your emotional processes, you live not only an authentic life but also an empowered one. This can lead you to the health, relationships, and success you desire.

Mindfulness means to pay attention on purpose in a particular way and to do so without passing judgement. This could be awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations and still be at peace in that moment. It could be things as simple as noticing the warm sun on your face, the smell of freshly baked cookies, or anything that you notice in the present moment and allow it to be what it is. Other names for mindfulness are attention training, consciousness, awareness, observation among others.

Some of the core practices of a more formal mindfulness practice include mindful breathing, open awareness, mindful listening, loving kindness, mindful eating, mindful walking, journaling, gratitude, affect labelling/mindful emotions, and a body scan.

Pause for a moment. Feel the sensation of air through your nostrils. Is it warm or cool? Notice the rise and fall of your chest. Is there resistance or ease? Bring your awareness to expansion and contraction of your abdomen. Sense your clothing against your skin. Notice thoughts, notice sensations, notice sounds, notice emotions, notice whatever arises.

Now, choose one of these areas either below your nose, at your chest, or your abdomen and practice paying attention to your breath for 2 minutes.

Whenever your mind wanders bring it back to your breath. We all have thoughts. The goal is not to control the mind but rather not allow it to control you. Make note of how you feel. You have just practiced mindful breathing by paying attention to your breath on purpose. You are always breathing so you can always practice.

You can “practice the pause” for one breath, take the two-minute challenge, or practice for as long as you like. Try it during a transition period such as before you check your phone in the morning, before you eat, in between work and home, and certainly before you send an angry text or frustrated email. Imagine the difference in the response?

In 1979 Jon Kabat-Zinn (PhD, scientist, writer, professor, Founder of MBSR and often referred to as the Godfather of Mindfulness) put mindfulness on the map in the western world when he founded the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts. The program was developed for chronically ill patients that were not responding well to traditional methods and have been highly successful.

Essentially Jon Kabat-Zinn took the Buddhism and Voodoo Woo-doo out of Mindfulness Meditation when he created the program. He said: “I bent over backwards to structure it and find ways to speak about it that avoided as much as possible the risk of it being seen as Buddhist, new age, eastern mysticism, or just plain flakey. “

Since that time neuroscience has shown us compelling evidence suggesting a regular Mindfulness Meditation practice leads to chemical and structural changes in the brain that allow for you to experience the benefits. Neurons that fire together wire together.

Mindfulness-based practices deactivate the part of your brain responsible for stress (amygdala) which in turn allows you access to the part of your brain responsible for all higher levels of thinking (pre-frontal cortex).

There are nine aspects of wellbeing that are developed through mindfulness-based practices that deactivate the amygdala and engage the pre-frontal cortex including: bodily regulation, insight, attuned communication, empathy, emotional regulation, fear modulation, response flexibility, intuition, and morality. (Gratitude may make this list soon). If you seek to be a visionary this is the part of the brain you want to train.

You can begin to see where the aspects of wellbeing developed could lead to things such as increased confidence, greater compassion and empathy, improved health, more fulfilling relationships, higher creativity, effective communication, higher success rates, and happier daily living.

Some of the traits developed being a mindful leader include being able to relate and connect with people for purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives as well as resilient, pro-active, adaptable, curious, validating, conscious, giving, kind, and exhibit self-control and can communicate with more than words. These create profound beneficial impacts in any industry.

Some of these benefits are related to the level of self-awareness one has.Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn, Search Inside Yourself) and “Self-awareness is a neutral mode that maintains self-reflectiveness even in the midst of turbulent emotions.” (Daniel Goleman, Search Inside Yourself).  Mindfulness and self-awareness are essentially the same thing.

One domain of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. You can’t accurately know yourself if you do not know and understand your emotional processes. Emotional Intelligence may be defined as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others. This can be a very powerful place to be. You don’t adjust to the energy of a room, you shift it.

When you ‘practice the pause’ you can pause as you did with breathing and make a more conscious choice. With continued practice you will develop higher levels of emotional intelligence so that you will begin to intuitively respond to people and situations as opposed to reacting emotionally. Imagine how many arguments you will save and how much less regret and guilt you will feel? Remember neurons that fire together wire together and you are training your brain.

This is truly a space of self-empowerment where you have the opportunity to think, speak, and act in line with your values. This is where you have the ability to create change, be authentic, and live intentionally.

The beginning of emotional intelligence begins with naming what you are feeling and then being able to feel it in your body and then being able to ask compassionate questions that help move you through. What you resist persists so if you don’t tend to your emotional wellbeing, it will wreak havoc on your wellbeing, your success, and your relationships.

There are countless ways to begin to develop emotional intelligence including formal mindfulness meditation-based practices, as well as self-assessments, journaling, and even gratitude.

Mindfulness and self-awareness lead to the following benefits in business:

*Trust and psychological safety which have become hot topics in recent years.

*Boosts career advancement

*Greater competitive advantage and market value

*More sales, save more money, make more money

*Sense if belonging and purpose (again essential in business in recent years)

*Loyalty and referral increase

*Effective collaboration and engagement

*Improves culture

*Elevates customer experience

The problem that often arises is difficulty in sticking to a practice, so it is necessary to make it a priority – schedule it, get help, get an accountability partner, and be kind to yourself on the journey. Cultivate compassion and curiosity for yourself and the experience. The journey and experience are the focus, not the end result.

Enjoy the journey. Remember your power is in this moment.


Amy McCae
Amy McCae
Amy McCae helps industry leaders to reduce stress and overwhelm so they can have clarity, confidence, and peace of mind as well as more time for fun, family, and themselves. Creative Wellness was founded after Amy spent nearly a decade ill with chronic illnesses and finally found healing through fitness, nutrition, and meditation. She now holds 17 certifications related to mind body wellness. Amy offers Mindfulness-based Coaching and Training to improve wellbeing and success. She focuses on holistic health, empathetic leadership, and developing self—awareness. You can find out more at Amy to set up virtual tea at 402-740-9847 or [email protected]

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