When reading across blogs and newspapers, I very often come across something along the lines like ‘be mindful’,’ mindful coaching’ or ‘mindful leadership’. Whereas these words sound very trendy and up to the point, I am sure many readers actually wonder what mindfulness actually is and what it takes to become more mindful in our daily lives and interactions. Well, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is:

“(..) an ancient Buddhist practice which has profound relevance to our present-day lives. It has to do with examining who we are (…) and with cultivating some appreciation of the fullness of each moment we are alive. Most of all, it has to do with being in touch.”[1]

In fact, most of our days in this fast spinning world are spent with running around, going to work, fetching the children, cooking, cleaning, shopping and doing whatever else needs to fit in our busy agendas. Unfortunately, many of these activities are not performed with a conscious state of mind, but rather in a more or less routine mode, constantly thinking about more things that need to be done or places that we need to be at. Time runs fast and the next thing we know is that many years have gone by, children grew up, excellent moments passed nearly unnoticed and we did not even realize what was going on. At a certain point, it therefore makes sense to stop, turn around and start enjoying all these little things in our daily lives that make every moment unique and worth living. There won’t be fewer things to do, less tasks to fulfill, but our change in attitude will allow us to see the different facets and moments of our existence through different glasses, those of consciousness.

Following different authors with international renown, such as Chade-Meng Tan or Kabat-Zinn, certain mental qualities or attitudes, “(…) provide a rich soil in which the seeds of mindfulness can flourish”.[2] These are:[3]

  1.  Patience
  2.  ‘Letting Go’
  3. Non-Judging
  4. Trust
  5. Generosity

Whereas these qualities are certainly not new to any of us, it is certainly not easy to try and cultivate them every day anew. But the more we do, the easier it becomes to relate to others and ourselves in a different way. If for example, by the way in which you are behaving, actually ‘broadcast’ patience, empathy and openness, others will come to you more easily and it will certainly change the quality of your relationships. On top of that, you as a person will also feel less stressed and more in harmony with yourself and what you are doing. Try it for yourself! As we are all interacting in social systems with groups of individuals or individuals, you will see that with building a solid foundation for mindfulness practice, things around you will also be affected and change. New doors will open, others will close, life unfolds in a multitude of present moments…

[1] Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Wherever you go, there you are”, New York 1994, p. 3.

[2] Kabat-Zinn: “Wherever you go”, p. 47.

[3] Compare also with Chade-Meng Tan: “Search inside yourself”, p.159 et. seq.