Mindfulness is a concept widely used in popular and business cultures, however its meaning and practices vary, sometimes sacrificing the essence. I’ve begun to use the term “Targeted Mindfulness” to recover some of that essence. Targeted Mindfulness includes direction and intentionality, making it a tool, an experience, and a pathway for developing “Presence.” Presence is the state of being intentional, where body, mind and emotion are aligned and keen to seize opportunity, as illustrated in the poem Mindful by Mary Oliver.
I see or hear
that more or less
excerpt from Mindful by Mary Oliver
The poet relates how the simple act of being attentive to her senses opens her to surprise. Similarly, by “coming to our senses,” gateways of attention and learning, we gain the ability to open, learn and grow. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are our links to what’s happening right now, where choice is possible, where action is taken, and where relief is found. What gets in the way is “mindlessness.”
In her book Mindfulness, published originally in 1989, Ellen Langer, Ph.D, Prof of Psychology at Harvard, presents her research on “mindless” and “mindful” states and concludes that we are most often mindless! We make “premature cognitive commitments” that skew our perspective and distance us from Oliver’s “delight”. Langer says, “One of the ways we become mindless is that we create categories and then become trapped by them.” The mindless state is inflexible. The mindful state is curious.
Langer instructs that to shift to a mindful state, “novelty must be introduced.” We must become curious: “What else is true? What else can I see, hear, etc. about this situation?” A question invites discovery. And, Oliver continues:
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
except from Mindful by Mary Oliver
Perhaps you’re becoming curious, “What’s the relevance, the meeting point, of poet, scientist, and executive?” It is in our intention to discover and learn. This is the application of Targeted Mindfulness, with it we can consciously shift assumptions, interrupt disruptive behaviors and focus our intentions; we save time, build relationships, and lead with presence – we express integrity.
Oliver introduces us to a glimmer of possibility with her poetry, a sense of delight that explodes from a moment of attention. Langer provides simple, research based, perspectives and practices for how to gain that attention.
Here’s a simple practice you can try for a taste of Targeted Mindfulness
Sit back, feel your feet on the floor, let your body settle any amount, and take 3 full breaths. Now, look at a familiar object close by and notice 3 things about it (use all of your senses). Now, notice three more. And, again, three more. It’s not a test, it’s an invitation. That’s a start 😉
The photograph is of a common phenomenon in northern climes at this time of year 😉 “What else can you notice?”
If you’re curious how Targeted Mindfulness can help you achieve your next level of learning and advancement, please be in touch. Initial consults are free.