Mindfulness—one of the latest company program buzzwords. You’ve likely seen an article in your organization newsletter, a daily tip encouraging mindful behavior, maybe even an in-office meditation program or a subsidized offer for a meditation app. First we’re going to rebrand this word back to its original intent, self-awareness. Mindfulness is the awareness of what is actually happening right now. I’m going to tell you what self-awareness is, how it can benefit you, and why it is important. It is the foundation of my company, Humessence. Here’s why.
I’m a recent corporate alum, 500hr Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Life Coach, and long-time researcher of eastern philosophies. I experienced the effects of incorporating the practice of self-awareness in my day-to-day grind first hand, before it was the “thing” to do, and on my own time. Now, you might have the opportunity to start your practice on company dime and time. TAKE IT.
I taught Yoga at the ExxonMobil HQ (~10K employees at the time) in addition to working there full time as a Sales and Business Development Professional. I’d listen as the students/coworkers that didn’t know me would carry on about the stress they were experiencing that I “didn’t understand” as the company invested resources in “culture change.” They were comfortable talking to their friendly Yoga instructor about the stresses of life in the office. I would end up sympathizing with them in a way that only someone who worked there would understand, and then I’d get the look, “WAIT… You work here? How do you do both? How do you not take stress with you into the studio after work?”
Yes, you can still pursue interests outside of your base job, if you choose, and “leaving stress behind” is not the answer. You have to completely change your relationship with stress, worry, and other states of mind that do not serve you altogether. The ONLY way to do this is to develop awareness of the changing states of mind—self-awareness. Without awareness, ingrained behavior patterns will ALWAYS take precedent moment to moment. The cycle will continue until you return to this exact spot, acknowledgement. If you’ve read this far, you’ve acknowledged that something needs to change, or your intuition has guided you here by intrigue because you’re ready.
Also, don’t beat yourself up. Our brains have been wired like this over tens of thousands of years. We’re master pattern recognizers and tribesmen. We have this faculty to thank for our survival and proliferation, although the same reaction that got you to safety from lurking predators doesn’t quite serve the same purpose during a performance review. The brain, specifically your amygdala, knows no difference. This primitive part of the brain regulates emotions and can cause us to react impulsively when an emotion takes over, similar to animals. The time course of emotional responding is a key attribute in an individual’s propensity for anxiety. Fortunately, we’ve also developed the key differentiator between modern and primitive man, the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). I like to call this “the executive brain,” an emotional regulator. This is the part that’s hard at work, burning more calories and dilating your pupils when you’re weighing decisions, solving complex problems, or overcoming unconscious bias. If you’re in the carriage seat, your Amygdala is the horse, and your PFC is the reins.
Meditation—the practice of observing the changing states or impermanence of all things, particularly thoughts, or states of mind. Meditation is a great way to develop your faculty of awareness. You’ll learn to disassociate your self from your thoughts, and eventually learn to notice body sensations that arise from these thoughts, where you’ll find the root of behavior patterns that lead to stress, worry, anxiety, judgement, fear, etc. There are other practices that can help you tap into the present moment such as EFT, a moving meditation, or journaling. There can be simple cues to implement throughout your day that prompt you to question, “What is happening right now, internally and externally?” Check this out to learn more about meditation’s influence on the PFC.
This is the precipice. The moment you’re able to change your life, and the direction of your team, even your whole organization. You’ll remember the first time it happens in a profound way. There will be a moment when a person or circumstance pushes you towards your edge, peering over a cliff toward stress, anxiety, doubt, or fear. Then… there it is. The pause. A moment when the distance between stimulus and the preprogrammed automatic behavior reaction becomes great enough for you to pause, notice what is happening, and make a CHOICE of how you want to respond. This is awareness.
Now, you have the power to choose. The power to shift into a new behavior pattern. Choose trust, faith, gratitude, compassion, worthiness, connection, determination. This is how you change your experience from everything in life happening TO you, to everything in life happening FOR you. The practice of taking purposeful action now that you’re aware. You have to choose the new behavior moment to moment. It’s a life long practice. There’s no winning at this game. There is only experiencing the compounding effects of consistent practice over a long period of time. A life of peace, a cohesive inclusive team, a thriving organization. It starts at the individual level. This is how you change the world, one inner world at a time.
This is why self-awareness is the foundation of all we do at Humessence. The only way to change behavior and make purposeful choices in line with your values is to have a firm understanding of where you are, and what is happening, right now. This is the missing link to behavior and personal-development curriculum today. You can take any course or read all of the literature out there, and if you haven’t practiced understanding your mind moment to moment, you’ll never notice old behavior patterns to break the cycle in the first place.
Our external lives are a reflection of our internal state of being, the dynamic of the team, organizational culture, and ultimately society, are all reflections of our inner world. Let us help you change yours.