Mindfulness has become quite the buzz word these days. But what is mindfulness and how can it help coaches and their clients?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), mindfulness is “a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment.”
This same article from the APA has reviewed many studies on mindfulness and found several benefits to both coach and client when practiced properly. In this two-part series, we’ll examine the ways in which proper use of mindfulness techniques can not only help make one a better coach, but how using mindfulness can help clients as well.
First, let’s examine the ways mindfulness can assist coaching clients.
- Less thinking, more doing. [Chambers et al. (2008)]
Based on this study, it was found that those who participated in mindfulness meditation showed decreased symptoms of depression, less ‘rumination’ and had a longer attention span during a performance-based task compared to the control group in the same study. That is to say, mindfulness can help your clients focus on what is in the now and less on what was. This is often helpful to help move beyond issues.
- Less stress. [Farb et al. (2012)]
Mindfulness meditation has been proven to also reduce negative emotions while decreasing anxiety. One study taught stress reduction through mindfulness. Both groups were shown sad movies. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) after the movie, researchers were able to prove those from the mindfulness test group were able to significantly reduce their stress and anxiety. Remarkably, the fMRI was able to conclusively show the mindfulness test group had less neural reactivity while watching the movie. This conclusively proves that mindfulness meditation can change how people react to stress by processing these emotions differently.
- Improved working memory. [Jha et al. (2010)]
A study was conducted on three groups: a military group in mindfulness training, a military group not participating in mindfulness and a civilian group who also did not participate in meditation. Both military groups were put under high-stress situations before their deployment. The results showed over time the non-meditating military group had a noticeable decrease in working memory while the meditating military group showed an increase in their working memory as well as reporting an inversely proportional relationship between increased positive and decreased negative affect.
- Better focus. [Moore and Malinowski (2009)]
Mindfulness has also been proven to help improve one’s focus. This study showed how those who are experienced at mindfulness meditation are able to focus their attention and quash distraction information. This is particularly useful for those who need to drown out outside noise and focus on the task at hand.
- Cognitive flexibility. [Siegel (2007a)]
Whether in life or in business, some individuals have a difficult time separating the two. Mindfulness can help develop a sense of ‘self-observation’ of a particular situation and allows this individual to assess the situation in a more present state of being, rather than defaulting to previous limiting beliefs.
- Higher satisfaction with relationships. [Barnes et al. (2007); Wachs & Cordova (2007)]
Many studies have shown that mindfulness helps improve relationships because it helps you communicate your emotions clearer to your partner as well as deal more rationally to various stresses. This can apply to romantic relationships, as well as platonic and professional relationships.
Stay tuned for the next article where we will review the benefits for coaches who practice mindfulness meditation themselves. Meanwhile, we invite you to learn more about our innovative The Art & Science of Mindfulness course!