The Evolutionary Value of Mindfulness

Written by: AAHV Social Post on Thursday, August 30, 2018

AAHV Social Post

by Joel & Michelle Levey

Founders: Wisdom at Work
Faculty: University of Minnesota Medical School
Living in Balance: A Mindful Guide for Thriving in Complex Times; Mindfulness, Meditation, & Mind Fitness

When we first began our study, practice and research into mindfulness in the early 1970s there were only a handful of people who were exploring this idea. As our research and practice matured, we began to develop robust mindfulness and mind-fitness based programs in the fields of medicine, higher education and business. Today, almost 50 years later, an estimated eighteen million Americans have a regular practice of mindfulness and 40 percent of the American people have a regular meditation practice.

It is also estimated that as of the beginning of 2018, 44 percent of all U.S. companies will have offered mindfulness training to their employees. Since rolling out their mindfulness program, Aetna estimates it has saved $2,000 per employee in health-care costs and gained $3,000 per employee in productivity. There is a growing recognition that the quantifiable return on investment helps explain why the meditation and mindfulness industry grew to nearly $1 billion in 2015.

From our many years of experience of bringing mindfulness to organizations and communities around the globe, we have learned that the greatest value of mindfulness is to equip individuals and teams with the skills necessary to refine and raise their level of personal and collective consciousness, thereby tapping into a deeper source of wisdom to bring forth breakthrough innovations and solutions to complex global problems.

To appreciate the deep value and relevance of mindfulness, pause for a moment and imagine all the moments of your life when you were fully present, mindful and vividly awake to what was going on within you, and around you. In these moments of mindful presence, you were able to read the inner and outer landscape of your life, clearly recognize options and discern wiser choices. If someone was talking to you, you were listening and attuned to the people in the conversation. If you were eating, you were aware of the flavors and textures of the food. If you were walking, you were mindful of the flow of movements, sensations and attuned to your surroundings. If you were thinking, you were aware of the nature and flow of thoughts.

Now, envision all the moments of your life when you were not present, lost in your thoughts about the past or the future. In those moments of mindlessness, you relinquished the power of discernment and choice. Those moments have been lost forever.

From our own research, we have found that most people report that, on average, they are fully present in their lives and work a mere 5 to 20 percent of the time. The other 80 to 95 percent of the time they are mindlessly wandering, out of touch with the flow of real-time perception, their embodied experience and present moment cognition.

By extrapolation, this means that if you live to be one hundred years old you will have only been mindfully present for five or ten years of your entire life. If you have a child that is ten years old, you would have missed as much as nine years of the precious moments of the life you shared. Is this good enough for you – or do you aspire to shift this balance and radically upgrade your mindfulness algorithm?Have confidence that with practice, this is certainly possible!

When taken to heart, this kind of deep reflection helps to illuminate the profound value and importance of mindfulness and the promise that mindfulness holds for reclaiming your life from the “habit demons” of mindless inattention. Just imagine the enormous potential that you, your colleagues, and all humans have to radically upgrade the quality of their lives if they were able to be present every moment of every day.

The Levey’s have introduced mindfulness and mind-fitness skills into hundreds of leading organizations around the globe including: NASA, British Parliament, Google, World Government Summit, and World Bank. Their coauthored works are available in 14 languages and include: Living in Balance: A Mindful Guide for Thriving in a Complex World; Mindfulness, Meditation, and Mind Fitness; Wisdom at Work; The New Bottom Line; Community Building in Business; Learning Organizations; and Intuition at Work.

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