What appears in your mind hearing Mindfulness, Meditation or Awareness? Is it beautiful young people rested on a wooden ground, settled on silent beaches, and enjoying the calm sunset? Is it wellbeing, and the absence of hectic, stress, overload – a breakout? Ah, and statues of the Buddha, don´t forget the Buddha statues!
Everyone knows what I am talking about. Variations of Mindfulness are available everywhere now in western society, serving the strong demand for balance in such change accelerating times. Brand awareness is visible! The misleading point is that the current image is trivialising mindfulness massively and often puts it into a dress, that is not worn in office. This image has nothing to do with true advantages of mindfulness techniques in the business setting. Becoming and staying mindful is – oh wonder – hard work. It requires courage, discipline, and continuity. It is a lifelong learning experience.
I am Daniel, Executive MBA student of the 2019 intake, a practitioner of Vipassana Meditation and would like to share what I have observed while flanking the EMBA with mindfulness techniques. Aspects that are transferable in the process of becoming, and reasons why I think Frankfurt School has moved smartly in integrating this into its executive education.
If you know where you want to go – you must know where you stand – to describe the way in front of you. Everyone in the program starts from different backgrounds and is following different goals, everyone has a different personal path in front. Despite all new impressions day by day and the intense teamwork in class, meditation practice supports self reflection and increases clarity in the personal growth process. By stepping back and just observing the situation, these new impressions quickly align to yourself and the next steps towards your goal becomes visible.
…new impressions day by day, an entangled world, and acceleration of technology. On the other hand, the human body; an accumulation of senses, its brain continuously processing, creating thoughts, deriving actions. Now, am I acting consciously on free will? Do I contribute value from within, or do I repeat common believe?
One of my favourite and most recognisable benefits of meditation is a significant improvement of the ability to identify patterns and causality in complex systems and scenarios. Mindfulness practise trains the ability to focus cognitive capacity on exactly one thing at a time and the results are a way deeper reflection of topics ahead. During the EMBA, this was massively supportive in almost every managerial issue we treated.
In business nowadays we are increasingly data driven and as we rise higher, the less tangible matter gets. However, reducing managerial actions to binary decisions quickly diminishes effectiveness when we empower technology instead of people. So to say, we need to become a chameleon fluent in changing colour to the role that the day demands. But are we willing to invest courage and energy to stay authentic in a leadership role, or do we remain closed, deceiving our environment, saving energy? Finding discipline to sit still and meditate, courage in remaining calm while observing things we are afraid of, is the hardest part in practicing meditation. Establishing a habit in facing ones personal challenges (speaking in public, leading a team etc.) is a crucial element in the process of personal growth, as no one else can do this for us. Each meditation session trains to face these situations persistently instead of avoiding, and so develops the ability to rest in moments we would be uncomfortable in.
During the past 15 years technology in neuroscience imaging techniques has significantly contributed to develop a former romance between western science and eastern wisdom into a solid relationship. Integrating mindfulness techniques into business education on the contrary is an outstanding and pioneering move ahead. Thanks to the program “Executive Performance – Why your Brain needs Mindfulness” by guest lecturer Anita Eicke and the ambitions of the programme director Markus Mädler, we have benefited greatly being the first EMBA in the market with Mindfulness elements in its curriculum.