Buzz words and fads come and go, but what stays with people is effective training that yields tangible results. Mindfulness has been around for some time but appears to be garnering a lot more attention lately. It sounds intriguing and captures the imagination about some mental power that can be built. What does it really mean and how can it help organizations develop their people into more productive individuals? Like so many “new” ideas, the original meaning can be lost when people pick up on the popularity of the term and apply it to everything.
According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad”. It comes from the teachings of the Buddha and is a form of meditation. However, you do not need to enter the ancient world of meditation to achieve similar results. A similar mental state can be achieved through a more scientific approach known as attention control training. After all, mindfulness is basically attention control. One of the elements of the Apex Performance training model is attention control.
Meditation has always touted its ability to bring inner peace, balance, clarity, reduced stress, etc. However, given that meditation techniques like mindfulness require time, commitment, and a dose of belief, many people do not embrace it. For these, new brain science knowledge and sophisticated biofeedback technologies can produce the same basic results. Attention control training uses concepts very similar to mindfulness: open focus and concentration, being in the present, a calm and alert state, and autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance. The difference lies in the fact that these results can be achieved in a shorter period of time and by anyone willing to do the practice using biofeedback as a primary training tool. Biofeedback allows Apex trainers to measure clients’ physiological responses that provide the essential feedback on progress in achieving desired mental states.
What this means is taking concepts such as stress-energy management, attention control, imagery and adaptive thinking and making them measurable and attainable mental skills. The ability to practice and master these skills develops mindful performers who learn how to concentrate, how to thrive under pressure, and how to successfully envision success. To us, achieving the higher levels of mental readiness is much more than “active, open attention on the present”. It is an integration of all of the above.
Mindfulness has an important place in achieving a desired mental state. But for those who either won’t or can’t engage in mindfulness, there is a more encompassing and integrated alternative.