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Robin Levesque
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Jan 12, 2017

Top 5 Mindfulness Practices for Positive Leadership

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Top 5 Mindfulness Practices for Positive Leadership

Positive Leadership is where positive psychology and appreciative inquiry meet best practices in transformational leadership. Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that focuses on making people happier by increasing positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions. Appreciative Inquiry is a model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change. Best practices in transformational leadership include modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart (Kouzes & Posner).

One of the tools I teach as a foundation of Positive Leadership is Mindfulness, in particular, and overview of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). According to the founder of MBSR in North America Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

In her book Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life, Barbara Fredrickson wrote: "The power of mindfulness is that it can literally sever the link between negative thoughts and negative emotions. When you come to accept a negative thought as just a thought— that in time will pass— you’ve disarmed it. With fuller awareness of how negative thoughts and negative emotions feed on each other, you can choose not to go there. You can both accept a negative thought and choose not to magnify it."

I was first introduced to MBSR in the fall of 2014 and again in the spring of 2015 at an eight-week workshop in Medicine Hat. As a result, I have incorporated my Top 5 Mindfulness Practices in my Personal Learning Plan.

1) Body Scan Meditation

This guided meditation is the primary foundation of MBSR. Participants are asked to sit or lie down in a comfortable position, close their eyes and focus on there breathing. They are then guided to focus on individual body parts starting with the toes of the left foot all the way up to the top of the head. Once you master this meditation, you can do a self-guided meditation and "hang out" on in areas that warrant more attention (for example your hip flexors).

2) Yoga

This is the second foundation of MBSR. In the standard eight-week workshop format, participants learn beginner yoga poses and focus on breath. Many fitness experts believe that flexibility gained from a daily yoga practice is the key to a balanced fitness program in tandem with endurance and strength training.

3) Sports Massage

This is one of my favourite practices that I aim to get once a month. It is particularly helpful if your massage therapist follows the same order as the Body Scan ... feet to head and neck.

4) Mindful Eating

This is also a practice taught in MBSR workshops. The now famous Raisin Exercise guides the participants to slow down and experience eating one single raisin using all of our senses. Once adopted as a daily practice, the slowing down to eat part, practitioners can also include mindful food preparation as an effective technique for combating daily stress.

5) Hour of Power

This is my daily morning practice for setting the stage for a positive day (adapted from the Miracle Morning for Authors by Hal Elrod, Steve Scott and Honorée Corder). The authors use the acronym SAVERS for the six-step process.

1. Silence: quiet meditation for 10 minutes or more.

2. Affirmations: mentally affirming desired outcomes in the present tense.

3. Visualization: mentally rehearsing key activities.

4. Exercise: some form of light exercise for 10 minutes or more such yoga or walking.

5. Reading: something uplifting ... not the newspaper.

6. Scribing: use this time for handwriting in your journal.

Here is the morning meditation I use for my Hour of Power: Positivity Body Scan Meditation.pdf.

Please leave a comment below to share your daily practices to overcome stress.