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Mindful Self-Leadership: Leadership for our Times

Every one of us is a leader. We are called to be of service to others as parents, employees, community or business leaders, partners and friends. Daily, in countless ways that often go untallied and unnoticed, we help to guide, inspire and encourage intentional actions in the lives of those we care about – at work, at home and in our larger communities.

When we choose to lead by being of service, we are motivated by a clear set of principles, including caring for the wellbeing of others. Our daily actions are rooted in a desire to positively impact, change or help to transform the lives of those we serve. On a deeper level, perhaps we understand that our daily actions reflect an inherent respect for our interconnectedness as human beings. We aspire to lead by a worldview so clearly described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

This is the foundation of mindful leadership - providing intentional and authentic leadership that can help to sustain our families, transform our workplaces and heal our communities.

Mindful leadership is not without its challenges, of course; we are only human and we all have our off days – and especially these days, the weight of our daily stressors and uncertainty about the future can take its toll. Some days, our leadership may feel more expired rather than inspired. We may slip into the easiest course of action rather than those determined by closely held values and principles. We’ve all been there, had those days. And, we all know this kind of leadership is unsustainable – at work, at home or in our communities. At its best, it leads to mediocrity and at its worst, to regrettable consequences.  

At its core, mindful leadership requires self-leadership: the ability to daily nurture, replenish and care for ourselves. We are called upon to wisely monitor and fill our “personal wells,” to ensure our own wellbeing and resilience, so that we may in turn be of service to others. 

Mindful Self-Leadership Tips:

1) Develop, Sustain or Maintain a Daily Mindfulness or Other Contemplative Practice. Mindful self-leadership allows us to lead by living our mindfulness practice out loud, as best we can, every day. We intentionally choose to cultivate our capacity for mindful awareness so that we may bring enhanced focus, clarity and compassion to our leadership roles. Ten to 30-minutes a day of mindfulness meditation or other quiet, contemplative practices may help to reduce stress, regulate our emotions and enhance our brain’s executive functioning - broadening our perspective and enabling us to make wiser decisions. Trudy Goodman, Ph.D, a well-known American mindfulness teacher, recently referred to a mindfulness practice as, “An Inner Trust Fund” - allowing us to ground and steady ourselves in a powerful source of trust, regardless of our life circumstances. 

To help support your daily practice, sample some the Center’s guided mindful meditations.

2) Remember Your Personal Wellbeing and Resilience Essentials. Many of us need to periodically assess our personal wellbeing and find new footing. Mindful self-leadership calls us back to the basics, the cornerstones of resilience and healthy physical, mental and emotional wellbeing: getting enough sleep; eating healthy foods; exercising; doing what we can to reduce our stress, and connecting with others in meaningful and nourishing ways. For each of us, what we need to fill our “personal wells” of resilience and wellbeing will be different, but feeling whole – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - is an essential ingredient of effective leadership. The Center’s Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing website has an array of free resources and online tools to support your ongoing wellbeing and resilience journey, including our six-faceted Wellbeing Model and personal assessment tool.

3) Leading and Learning Outside Your Comfort Zone: Practice “Integrative Awareness.” Leadership expert McKinsey & Company suggests practicing “integrative awareness” to expand your ability to stay calm, optimistic and less reactive when experiencing challenging times and daily stressors. Throughout your day, when you notice you are feeling distracted, stressed or overwhelmed, take a breath and give yourself a moment to mindfully tune in. Become aware of what you are taking in from the world around you and how you are responding to that stimulus in the moment - internally, emotionally and physically. Although we all receive constant input - internally and externally - we can be unaware of it in its presence or its impact on us because of our personal conditioning, life experiences, biases, etc. Neuroscientists tell us we have an innate ability for both “exteroception” (sensitivity to stimuli originating outside of the body) and “interoception” (sensitivity to stimuli originating inside the body). Practicing integrative awareness allows us to mindfully pause and avoid overreacting to challenges or jumping to conclusions. We are able recognize and more compassionately address our internal discomfort and to reframe our experience. Over time, we learn to trust our intuition, our inner knowing. We learn to shift from viewing stressors and challenges as roadblocks to seeing them as problems to be solved - as circumstances that can lead to life-long learning and growth. To help develop your capacity for integrative awareness, practice S.T.O.P

Whatever your leadership role, remember that all leadership starts and regenerates from the inside out. Mindful self-leadership is not so much characterized by fiery flames, but by steady sparks from within that softly whisper, “you’ve got this, keep going.” May you enjoy strengthening your capacity for self-leadership with this month’s practices and tips.

Mindfulness Trends in the Workplace

September 24, noon – 1 p.m.

Free, learn more and register.

For more than 30 years, a great deal of research has been conducted demonstrating the possible benefits of mindfulness meditation on one’s physical health and overall wellbeing. This workshop will highlight mindfulness research as it applies to workplace settings and employee wellbeing. Trends and considerations in workplace mindfulness program offerings will also be explored. Time will be allocated for participants to share their experiences with mindfulness programming in workplace settings.

If you weren’t able to join us live for any of our past webinars, view recordings of those webinars.

Leading the Future Series

Cultivating Resilience in Leaders: The Key to Transformational Leadership

October 29, 9 – 10:30 a.m.

Free, learn more and register.

This session will highlight the wellbeing factors that contribute to resilient leadership, and enable and sustain transformational leadership. Self-leadership and mindfulness practices will be explored as everyday tools for enhancing wellbeing, building resilience and navigating the inevitable challenges that leaders face. Rooted in self leadership, transformational leadership is committed to inspiring and creating the changes necessary for wellbeing to flourish in our organizations and communities. Research will also be explored that correlates increased employee engagement and customer satisfaction with organizations that support wellbeing cultures. Time will be allocated for panelists and participants to share ideas for supporting resilient and transformational leaders, in our workplaces and communities.

The Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing is deeply committed to the wellbeing and flourishing of all communities. In order to make our mindfulness programming accessible to a broader audience, we have implemented a pay-what-you-can fee for many of our community programs.

We have listed a suggested registration fee below, but for those who are not able to pay the standard fee we have lower rates available. If you would like to support this initiative and are able to contribute financially, you can select a higher registration fee to support others attending at the sliding scale rate.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction - live course, held online

Suggested registration fee: $449
Registration options between $299-599
Courses begin on September 23 & October 1

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is an eight-week course that will help you learn about the physiology and science of stress. You'll learn about a variety of mindfulness techniques - like guided instruction, gentle stretching, mindful yoga, mindful communication, and daily practices. 

Intro to Mindfulness - live course, held online

Suggested registration fee: $125
Registration options between $99-149
Course begins on October 27

This four-week course explores what mindfulness is (and isn’t) through direct experience and discussion. Each week we will investigate a different aspect of mindfulness and its implications for your life.

Free Online Stress Busters Sessions

Weekly on Mondays, noon to 1 p.m. Central Time

Learn more and register.

Bakken Center Mindfulness and Wellbeing Instructor Mariann Johnson will guide you through mindful movement exercises and guided meditation that will leave you feeling physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually rejuvenated.

Mindfulness at Work - self-paced, online course

Suggested registration fee: $125
Registration options between $99-175
Registration open until September 25 - the course is self-paced so you can still register now and be on track

Mindfulness at Work is a six week self-paced, experiential course designed to teach core mindfulness skills while also exploring specific applications to the workplace setting. The course can also help mitigate stress; in fact, more than 75% of past Mindfulness at Work participants we surveyed saw a reduction of stress on the Perceived Stress Scale.  

This Fall, the Center will host the Wellbeing Series for Planetary Health, a three-part event featuring national and local leaders who will not only help us understand the deep connections between planetary health and human wellbeing, but also inspire us to develop personalized plans for taking actions in our daily lives, our homes, and our communities. 

This online event series, which will be free to the public because of generous sponsorships, includes:

  • Sept. 30, noon–1:15 pm Central: Teddie Potter, PhD, RN, FAAN, Leah Prussia, DSW, LICSW, SEP, and Vishnu Laalitha Surapaneni, MD will participate in a lively panel discussion to be held over the lunch hour. Building on the rich experience provided by the Wellbeing Lecture, in this event attendees will be inspired to learn about the efforts being made toward planetary and human health in Minnesota, and will have the opportunity to engage directly with the panelists. Register here.
  • Oct. 6, 4–5:30 p.m. Central: For the third part of our series, the Center will host an online community gathering, which will feature select local, inspiring climate-focused organizations. During this event, organizational leaders will highlight the important work they are doing in Minnesota, and share ways in which attendees can get involved and help change the trajectory of climate change and support planetary health. Register here.
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