Every acceptance of reality in an open,

Every now and then when we come
across the word ‘Mindfulness’, we tend to associate it to the context of
therapeutic settings of medical practices or spiritual healing and curative traditions
or similar subjects. However, there has been a heightened interest among
practitioners to correlate ‘Mindfulness’ with other contexts and situations and
more so now with Management and Leadership.

Mindfulness and its roots can be traced to around 2500 years
back. From religion to science, it has surely travelled a long journey but it has said to have been
originated as a part of religious beliefs like Buddhism, Hinduism etc. where ‘Sati’ is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. “Correct” or “right” mindfulness is the
seventh element of the noble eightfold path to attaining Nirvana. ‘Sati’ is an awareness of things in
relation to things, and hence an awareness of their relative value. However,
over the years this concept of mindfulness has travelled from the east to west
and most of it can be accredited to Jon Kabat-Zinn. In 1979, Kabat-Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness at
the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Oasis Institute for
Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training in it. This is also where
Kabat-Zinn developed his Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and other programs such
as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/history-of-mindfulness/

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The debate on what is the correct definition of mindfulness
may be ancient but all of them agree on the fundamental concept that mindfulness
is the deliberate and prolonged focusing of one’s attention on immediate
experiences, both external and internal, as they unfold from moment to moment
(Little, 2011).  In a study on the nature
of mindful attention (Langer, 1997), it was found to be contrary to the
conventional understanding, focusing and prolonging attention is hardly about
intense concentration upon a single still image in the mind (using the analogy
of focusing a camera), because one quickly realizes it is to remain on-task by
this method. Instead, attention is more effectively sustained when individuals
constantly seek to notice new things about the stimulus (Ling and Chin, 2012).
Mindfulness, then, is further characterized by an acceptance of reality in an
open, non- judgmental way.

 

A number of studies
best try to explain Mindfulness with the example of an Autopilot situation
i.e., eg. In a car, we can sometimes drive for miles on “automatic pilot”, without
really being aware of what we are doing. In the same way, we may not be really
“present”, moment-by-moment, for much of our lives: We can often be “miles
away” without knowing it (). Langer
(1992) proposes that a key feature of
mindfulness lies in its regulatory function to the otherwise autopilot of
ingrained behaviors and habitual responses. This
sense of being aware of our responses to environmental stimuli is needed and
significant for good management and leadership. If central to
the concept of mindfulness are notions of a clearer way of perceiving the
world, and a more conscious understanding of how one interacts and makes sense
of it, then mindfulness must be integral to leadership. For, as expressed by
Little (2011), “if leadership is, in some degree, about seeing clearly
what is going on, about making a determination about the best course of action
and then taking it, then it demands of leaders that they take pains to
understand how they see the world, from what point of view, with what distortions
and with what intent” (Ling and Chin, 2012).

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