BY JANICE MARTURANO
For many people, the day doesn’t start without a cup of coffee. It helps you wake up, but did you know it can also be an important part of training your mind? You already know you can train your body to be stronger, more flexible, and more resilient. But you might not know your brain also needs to be trained to be focused and clear. It’s called mindful leadership training, and it is very easy to try. Let’s start with that cup of coffee:
- Bring your attention to your experience of drinking the coffee. Can you feel the warmth of the cup or the heat on your lips as you take that first sip? How about that smooth taste on your tongue? Or the way you can feel it as it goes down your throat? What else do you notice?
- As you are paying attention to your coffee, your mind may take you away from the experience with thoughts about the future, the past, worries, or memories. When that happens – and it will – just bring your attention back to your coffee. You are in charge of your attention. Anytime your mind wanders, redirect it back to the present moment and the cup of coffee you’re drinking.
- Keep noticing and redirecting until the coffee is gone. Try this every morning, or better yet, every time you drink a cup of coffee. Be patient and consistent with the training. And congratulate yourself – you are now a meditator!
This is an example of Purposeful Pause meditation training. It’s used to improve your ability to focus and be clear about what is here in your life, today, in this moment. Purposeful Pauses are an integral part of mindful leadership training at the Institute for Mindful Leadership and are a great way for warriors and their family members to get started with mindfulness. Focusing on the present gets your mind out of the past. If you live with the invisible wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), training your mind to stay out of the past can be a powerful tool.
This practice can also help with leadership. After all, leadership is about influence, and every one of us has influence – for better or worse! The choices we make influence the trajectory of our lives, those around us, and even our environment. And our best choices and decisions are made when our mind and our body are in the same place.
When we begin to train our mind to be more focused and clear, we begin to give ourselves a better chance to influence “for better”. When we practice noticing when our mind wanders away and we redirect our attention, like we did with the coffee, we train ourselves to notice when our mind is not in the present moment. We bring our attention back from the future or the past, so we can focus on right now.
For more free mindful leadership meditations (available in English and Spanish), visit www.FindingtheSpacetoLead.com. To learn more about training in mindful leadership, visit the Institute for Mindful Leadership at www.mindfulleaders.org.