For the last 20 years I have been an avid meditator, skipping a few days here and there but mostly sticking to give myself the gift of 30 minutes of relaxing calm every morning training my brain. When I learned to meditate, I remember in one of the instructions from a guided meditation the phrase: “total attention voluntary, continued and concentrated in the object of your attention that is your breathing”.
To me those 3 qualities of attention are one of my most important assets when coaching and basically in any life activity where I want to be fully present. I thought reviewing them would be useful and possibly a way to convince you if you haven’t to embrace meditation as one of the most important tools you might have to improve your coaching, your communications, and essentially every aspect of your life.Voluntary means that there is a specific intention in our brain, that there is a decision to intentionally pay attention to something. And if you are a good coach or a good leader having conversations with your people, intentionally deciding to pay attention is critical to rapport, connection, and empathy.
Continued means that because of training and repetition you get the capacity to keep your attention for a longer period without distractions. It means that you can get the benefits of sustaining longer periods of time observing your thoughts and as soon as the distracting thought is noticed you can come back to the object of your attention. Having this sustaining capacity is another great asset when paying attention to a coaching client or to a collaborator.
Concentrated means that not only you can sustain your attention longer but that you do it with full focus, avoiding multi-tasking or multi-thinking and being present. Not allowing your mind to time travel to ideas about the past or future but just being there as a concentrated observer of the information that you are getting in the moment. This is another great tool to avoid losing message information or important pieces of information. It will correct the bad habit in your mind of “thinking ahead” either about what the other person is saying or about your answer and in that blink of an eye missing key words and ideas.
Start simple, as early in the day as you can just sit comfortable for 5 minutes and pay voluntary, continued, and concentrated attention to your breathing and every time you catch yourself paying attention to something different like noises, ideas, sensations; just bring back your attention to your breathing. Your brain will be trained to be a better coach or leader.