I just wrapped up an amazing call with Dr. Laurel Geise, Founder and CEO of The Geise Group, on a mission to help companies implement Mindfulness at Work Programs. She and I really got down to the nitty gritty details about why mindfulness is making a comeback in a huge way and why this is the solution to dealing with stress.
Stress Is A Big Problem
Stress can form in layers, whether it's entrepreneurial or business related, personal, situational, or just transferred from others you spend time around, and it seems that we are dealing with more and more. It's important that you understand what your stress looks/sounds/feels like, and even more important that you know how to deal with it. Why? Because stress constantly plays interference, easily fogging your mind, clouding your judgement, and preventing creativity.
The truth is that stress is hard to ignore, even though we know it's just a trouble maker. And so the goal is that, rather than having solutions in place to deal with the stress, you could just train your mind to be a less stressy place. Because once we let the stress in, it's really hard to get it back out. And even in the short amount of time we spend acknowledging the stress, it is wiring your brain to look for more stress and focus on that stress.
Stress Has Always Been A Problem, Mindfulness Has Always Been the Answer
Socrates would spend hours in what he called deep thought; mindfulness practice and Leonardo da Vinci would light a candle, lay in bed, and watch the reflection of the candle on the ceiling to go into a deep state of mindfulness. Edison would sit in a chair, focus his mind, and hold a rock in his hand that would fall into a bucket if he fell asleep. Einstein thought experiments were exercises in deep focusing of the mind
In his book, Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss highlights that 80% of the leaders have some type of mind training. Mindfulness practice is a hallmark of high-performing creators.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is choosing to pay attention in a specific way:
On Purpose: making the decision to focus your awareness on what you want to focus it on, rather than letting the mind wander. Deliberate choice.
- In the Moment: our attention is focused on replaying the past, or projecting into the future which means our attention is typically not in this moment. Research has proven we have 60,000 thoughts a day and 90% are the same thoughts as yesterday. With mindfulness brain training, your thoughts settle down and become focused.
- Without Judgment: noticing our thoughts and letting them arise as they will allows us to let go of judging the thoughts as good or bad. When you make the choice to take a breath, focus your mind in the moment, and then allow thoughts to arise, you are open to heightened creativity which opens you to new ideas without rejecting them before they can be explored
All of this allows more space between your old repetitive thoughts, which opens the doorway for your genius to come through. You can call this the Genius Gap. The creative innovators throughout the ages knew this secret. This gap is silence between thoughts.
In addition, there have been over 4,600 studies on the efficacy of mindfulness showing us that mindfulness reduces stress, anxiety, overwhelm, depression, blood pressure, and insomnia.
Some Important Statistics:
- Harvard Research Study: We spend 47.3% of our day in a state of mindlessness.
- Harris Interactive Work Stress Survey (2013): 83% of Americans report work is a significant source of stress.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2014): 50% of employees say stress level is "high" or "overwhelming".
- Forbes reported that 22% of the Fortune 500 companies had Mindfulness Programs in 2016 and that number is expected to double by the end of 2017.
Here's How You Can Be More Mindful
Research has proven that your mind is more open to creativity in the morning. Consider adding a morning mindfulness practice, like the one below suggested by Dr. Laurel Geise, to open your mind to creativity. Instead of starting your workday with emails, consider beginning with this mindfulness practice for five minutes.
- Sit up straight in your chair
- Focus on your breath
- When thoughts enter your mind, return to your breath
- If you notice your mind wandering, go back to your breath