Here’s What Mindfulness Is (and Isn't) Good For
Mindfulness — the practice of shifting your attention inward to observe your thoughts, feelings and actions without interpretation or judgment — can help us in our professional and personal lives. Daniel Goleman, co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, and University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson used rigorous scientific standards to sift through a plethora of publications and found four real benefits of mindfulness.

The first is stronger focus. There is "less mind wandering and distractibility" among those who practice regular mindfulness routines. People exhibited better concentration, even when multi-tasking. The second benefit is staying calmer under stress. Research has shown that those who practice meditation have a "less trigger-happy amygdala," writes Goleman. (The amygdala is a roughly almond-shaped mass of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere that is involved with the experiencing of emotions.) In other words, the brain is less likely to interpret certain inputs as threats and immediately resort to a defense reaction, whether it be fight, flight, or freeze.

A third benefit is better memory. Those people who practice mindfulness typically show a stronger working memory — i.e., the short-term memory that registers in-the-moment thought processing. In a professional setting, such as an association board meeting, this can bolster a leader's ability to perform the complex thinking needed for everything from strategic work to problem solving. A fourth and final benefit of mindfulness is good corporate citizenship. Meditation techniques that intentionally cultivate an attitude of kindness are often part of a mindfulness practice. Goleman concludes, "This approach has been shown to lead to more activity in brain circuits for caring, increased generosity, and a greater likelihood of helping someone in need, qualities of the best corporate citizens."
Harvard Business Review (09/28/17) Goleman, Daniel
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