“Mindfulness” has become a favored competency and way of being, not only in leadership training and practice but also in personal effectiveness. Such is the power of the concept that it seems to have ubiquitous desirability. Yet the concept has been around for years—even for centuries, if spiritual traditions are considered. And because the term quintessentially means being fully aware in, paying attention to, and inhabiting the present moment, I can say that mindfulness is the central principle of the Gestalt approach, though we’ve always called it “awareness.” The Gestalt approach draws deeply from Eastern spiritual thinking (Buddhism, for example), but adapted and modified that rich source to speak more directly and convincingly to Western values and behaviors.
Awareness is the primary catalyzing power of the Gestalt approach. Mindfulness is a contemporary and accessible adaptation of this awareness concept, which is a challenge to fully embrace because of how far-reaching yet microscopic awareness can be. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness is widely known and memorable: “paying attention . . . on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” There is an appreciative and accepting quality to being in-the-moment and being aware in that moment, without judgment and without pre-scripted responses, that releases us from both the past and the future. We purposefully let go of past and future to live in that moment, to pay attention to what moves, motivates, and inspires us now. And this orientation is what gives us the strength and the energy to move forward.
The idea of purposefulness is valuable to Gestalt coaches and their clients, because what we pay attention to on purpose has the effect of enabling us to see in different ways, and deeper and more compelling ways. So moving and compelling is the act of paying attention—the act of intense awareness—that the great Milan Kundera said that paying attention is an act of love.
I invite anyone who wants to learn how to pay attention—which invites emotional self-regulation as well as enhancing professional skills—and how to come into greater contact with your own awareness process to contact me or my colleagues at the Gestalt Center for Coaching or at Gestalt Coaching Works. We teach awareness training concepts that promote coaching, leadership, and personal mastery. I have come to believe that what makes our particular Gestalt approach and our teaching workshops and programs so unique is that we continually ask ourselves: “Is our awareness done in a loving way?”
Love may certainly seem like a strange or even alien ingredient to throw into the burgeoning brew of coach training program “requirements” or “credentials,” but I offer this idea to you as something basic and needed, and invite you to evaluate what it provokes.
If you are interested in working with us in Istanbul or in Toronto, contact us. We welcome and would love the opportunity to work together.
I invite you to watch my brief video detailing an experience I had that reminds me always of the power of being attentive and mindful in the moment.
Dorothy Siminovitch on Mindfulness