Mindfulness is no longer only a staple of wisdom teachers and wellness practitioners, but is beginning to reach the mainstream as newspaper headlines tout its health implications and companies create spaces for employees to meditate.
So what exactly does mindfulness have to offer the social entrepreneur or socially-minded business person?
Let’s start with a definition. Mindfulness can be defined as paying attention on purpose in the present moment, with a quality of curiosity or non-judgment. Essentially, this involves taking the time to notice whatever is happening inside ourselves, which can include our physical sensations, emotional states or thoughts, and/or in the external environment around us. This is not easy or altogether natural for us. A 2010 study documented that on average people spend nearly 47 per cent of their waking hours with their minds wandering. Being more mindful does take practice, just as getting in shape or learning a new language takes practice too. But with time, we can see measurable results.
Practices such as sitting still and paying conscious, focused attention to something like the way we breathe help foster mindfulness, which can also be seen as a form of brain training. Increasing research is demonstrating that mindfulness practices, especially formal meditation, can change the structure and functioning of our brain over time. Benefits include reduced anxiety and rumination, decreased depression, increased emotion regulation and more positive emotions, improved immune system functioning, and even a slowing of the markers of aging.
While many engage in mindfulness practices to support resilience and better manage stress, the benefits extend into the interpersonal domain too. They are particularly relevant to the ways that change agents approach their work, especially in solving problems in their organisations, industries and broader society.
Following are five primary ways mindfulness can serve the socially-minded entrepreneur. READ MORE