It has been around for thousands of years, but lately it has become a real hype: mindfulness. In February 2014, the subject even graced the cover of Time Magazine, eloquently titled: The Mindful Revolution. The science of finding focus in a stressed-out, multitasking culture. Now, isn’t that right?
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and means ‘you are aware of the here and now, and you accept this in a non-judgmental way'. Or: consider emerging thoughts as subjective, do not regard them as absolute truths. Do not ‘act upon them’, but accept your thoughts as they are. Fact: the average human being has between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts per day. Wouldn’t it be pleasant if these thoughts would not lead to worries and stress?
Although mindfulness has spiritual roots, science is gradually becoming more interested too. Dozens of clinical studies have been done to test the effects of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). The results were remarkable: patients who did mindfulness meditation for maximum 40 minutes per day for 8 weeks, showed significantly less anxiety, stress, depression and pain.
We already argued that it is time for Society 4.0, where our human potential can come full bloom and happiness is a key feature. This all starts with education and precisely here is where mindfulness has an important part to play. Mindfulness can be a valuable tool to foster individual happiness. Anyone who is happy creates the space to maximise his or her qualities and this is good for everyone. It also encourages mindfulness awareness in the environment, and that is a crucial quality for the leaders of tomorrow.
Mindfulness holds great potential for education. To prove that these are not mere empty words, a 2-year pilot was done among pupils of the City of Glasgow College. The students were calmer, more relaxed and thus performed better. Also among students in the British Higher National Programmes good results were reported. Students said themselves they were able to concentrate better on exams. Additionally attendance figures clearly improved.
‘In essence everyone wants to be happy’, said Mark Stoffels (General Manager Philips Mexico) during the Dutch National Quality Congress in 2014. Stoffels emphasized the importance of self-knowledge and to provide leadership from a personal mission and vision. 'Compassion' is the key word that describes his own management style, because this opens the door to empathy and open communication. Valuable advice, but for many there is a big difference between word and deed. With mindfulness we can bridge the gap. Mindfulness is not difficult, everyone can learn. Just do it.
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