Three Core Practices of Mindful Leadership


One of the main benefits of establishing a mindfulness practice in our lives is that it helps us develop a different relationship with ourselves so that we don’t get so caught up in the crap that our personalities go through. After hanging out at the San Francisco Zen Center and Boulder Integral, I’ve distilled three core practices for developing mindful leaders: concentrating, witnessing, and intending. Let’s unpack these three!

  1. Concentrating: Concentrating is about zeroing in and focusing on one single object of concentration. In is associated with doing and there is a sense of effort.
    • Practices include focusing on the breath, a visual object, or reciting a mantra.
    • Applications include structuring your work day into 25 min work periods where you focus on one or a few tasks only. When distractions (internal or external) arise, you track them, shelve them for later, and refocus. Take a 5 min break between work periods.
    • Benefits include a reconditioned nervous system, more efficient time management, and higher productivity.
  2. Witnessing: Witnessing is about zooming out and observing everything with equanimity, quite the opposite of concentrating. It is associated with being and there is a sense of effortlessness.
    • Practices include learning to simultaneously observe the outside world, your self sensing of your embodiment, and your emotions and thoughts.
    • Applications include allowing negative emotions to self liberate and expanding the gap between stimulus and response.
    • Benefits include higher resiliency, adaptability, and morale. One slowly learns to dis-identify with all finite objects that can be seen, including the personality, which leads to a lighter existence, shall we say.
  3. Intending: Intending is about using conscious intentions to develop certain qualities or to move toward certain goals. It is associated with guiding and there is a sense of purpose.
    • Practices include setting conscious intentions, visualizations, and positive self talk.
    • Applications include monitoring your behavior throughout the day to see if they are aligned with your intentions.
    • Benefits include a gradual increase in personal integrity (you’re closing the gaps between your intentions and behaviors).

Without concentrating, little gets done.

Without intending, the wrong thing gets done.

Without witnessing, there is no wisdom.


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