Businesses do not see a ‘mindfulness’ problem. They see a leadership problem; when those in charge are erratic, emotional or stressed when they need to be calm, present and focused.
They do indeed need to be ‘mindful’. Trouble is, some of the ways to achieve a mindful state, such as meditation, can seem a bit ‘woo woo’. Now technology is coming to the rescue.
Technology can help us better-understand how our brains work
I recently interviewed Jay Vidyarthi, Head of User Experience Design at Interaxon for my upcoming 2018 documentary Make Me A Leader. Together with founders Ariel Garten and Chris Aimone, his company - Interaxon - has developed a tool called ‘Muse’ to help people measure how mindful (or not!) they are while meditating.
The device is a wireless EEG headset linked to a smartphone. It provides users with real-time data about the effectiveness of their meditation. Muse translates brain activity into nature sounds. When you are calm, the winds are calm. When you are agitated, or your mind is racing, the wind sounds become louder and more intrusive.
With practise, this information can help us to become better leaders. Successful organisations are starting to place the same importance on this aspect of leadership ‘performance’ preparation as they already place on rest, eating and exercise.
Jay explained that meditation encompasses a broad range of practices. Different things work for different people. The trick is to find what works for you and then practising it. Meditation and mindfulness, neuroscience and technology can all improve the interactions between self, brain, and body.
Mindfulness can help build compassion
As a leader, learning to pay attention in a more empathetic and compassionate way is crucial to making better decisions and influencing others. A recent survey of Australian leaders by Six Degrees showed that employees most value leaders who demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and can build teams.
Yet, the leaders saw their key attributes as hard work and a track record of success (ranked 9th and 11th by their teams).
Tools like Muse can help correct this glaring deficiency.
“A lot of our current problems come from decisions that are made without compassion.”
Trials of tech-supported mindfulness training look promising
In a recent study, scientists tested mindfulness training using Muse. Adult subjects trained for ten minutes each day. Their attention and wellbeing were measured over six weeks. Researchers noted a modest increase in both attention and wellbeing. Larger scale studies are indicated, but initial results are promising (Bhayee, 2016).
Whilst it’s early days, it seems that we are able to actively work on creating the best possible versions of ourselves. Imagine a more attentive, patient, relaxed and compassionate version of you.
How would your personal AND professional life improve? When you are present in the moment - aware of both your internal and external state - you can improve the way you care for yourself and those you lead and love.
Does having an increased state of well-being sound appealing? Do you want to make better decisions and improve your outlook on life, both at work and at home? If so, look out for the upcoming release of our documentary ‘’!
Bhayee, S., Tomaszewski, P., Lee, D. H., Moffat, G., Pino, L., Moreno, S., & Farb, N. A. S. (2016). Attentional & affective consequences of technology supported mindfulness training: a randomized, active control, efficacy trial. BMC Psychology, 4, 60. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-016-0168-6