Why mindfulness matters

Taravandana specialises in mindfulness and meditation. In this field of practise, there seems to be an ever-increasing body of evidence, as well as a spike in general public interest.  Here, Taravandana shares her thoughts and insights.  You can also find out more about Taravandana here or on our Meet the Team page.

This week I have been reflecting on mindfulness and the positive impact it has had on the lives of many people including mine. I have also been bringing to mind friends and colleagues who are stressed, unhappy, or troubled, and many senior leaders who find themselves with impossible jobs in unenviable circumstances.  I find myself wanting to suggest mindfulness as a solution.  Unfortunately, its also my experience that giving unsolicited advice rarely works.

The evidence base is strong, and the science is clear that mindfulness practice improves wellbeing, performance, and leadership capability. It makes people happier, more resilient, and able to relate to and engage others.  It all sounds great, but claims aren’t usually enough to convince many people to have a go for themselves.

Taking up a mindfulness practice is like to deciding to go to a gym for the mind. It’s a life style change that is more likely to succeed if the need for change is recognised and well planned for, and there is sufficient support in place.

The ancient Indian teachings that gave rise to mindfulness meditation say that it’s the experience of ‘suffering’ that leads people to seek out tools or answers to their pain, distress, or lack of meaning.  Asking around fellow mindfulness-practising senior leaders, I found that all of them had taken up meditation in response to personal loss, change, or stress.  Recognising rather than turning away from pain seems to be the first step.  Only then, it seems to me, will the benefits of mindfulness seem relevant.

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