‘Living my best life’, ‘self-care is not selfish’, and ‘YOLO’ are a few catchphrases for mindfulness. We see them in memes; they are plastered all over social media, quoted by our favorite host, and reiterated by our woke-est of friends. But what does mindfulness mean? How does one become mindful? I can tell you that mindfulness is more than having a venti Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte somewhere in Central Park.

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The American Psychological Association recognize mindfulness as a Buddhist concept adopted by psychotherapist; it is a state of awareness that promotes emotional intelligence etc. Mindfulness is not just a power phrase thrown around in job interviews for progressive companies; it is a state of being. Axelrod (2012) believes, in psychoanalysis and executive coaching, emotional awareness was an important factor in facilitating change or growth. Managers, therapists, coaches, friends, and partners, etc. all possess the ability to influence your mindfulness. In the state of awareness that is mindfulness lies an opportunity for growth. This is where we focus less on ‘what’ and focus on the ‘why’, we seek understanding before judgment.

In a true state of mindfulness, sides are not picked, instead, the reason for the conflict or separation is explored. The Self-Determination Theory (SDT) accounts for growth tendencies, psychological needs, the socio-cultural factors of personality, self-regulation, and wellbeing (Spence & Oades, 2011). To understand what mindfulness looks like for the individual it would help to understand SDT.

Emotional intelligence can be a complex aspect to decipher, it is having reflective and meditative components that influence self-discovery. In terms of wellness, the state of being in good health, the basic psychological needs identified in SDT independently affect daily levels of motivation (Martela & Ryan, 2016).

The basic psychological needs are represented in three sections: autonomy, competence, and relatedness support (Spence & Oades, 2011). Research applying the self-determination theory (SDT) indicated a correlation between well-being and the satisfaction of basic psychological needs (Martela & Ryan, 2016). Sorting through your baggage is half the battle, discovering why you choose to hold on to the aforementioned baggage is a separate journey.

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Burn out generally occurs when the levels of satisfaction are either too high or too low. The individual loses motivation to participate in the task that was previously fun and enjoyable. With a balanced mind, environment, and support system the individual is able to operate at their peak. The self-determined state is achieved by the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs, this state is influenced by the aforementioned factors.

What does the APA definition of mindfulness really say? The same thing that Buddhist monks discovered over 2,000 years ago, ‘don’t get too high and don’t get too low’. In this state of awareness, the promotion of emotional intelligence incorporates balance. Remember to glance in your rear-view mirror at the things you have accomplished, while staying focused on the journey ahead. Although meditation and creating self-care time is essential, developing relationships with other freethinkers are important. There are many layers to mindfulness, there is no harm in getting a coach that can guide you through your steps.

Written by Benael J. John-Rose (QMHA/CPT) – Performance Consultant

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Mind & Body podcast E. 1 part 1: Mindfulness

Mind & Body podcast E. 1 part 2: Mindfulness



Axelrod, S. D. (2012). “Self-Awareness”: At the Interface of Executive Development and Psychoanalytic Therapy. Psychoanalytic Inquiry32(4), 340-357. doi:10.1080/07351690.2011.609364

Spence, G. B., & Oades, L. G. (2011). Coaching with self-determination in mind: Using theory to advance evidence-based coaching practice. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching & Mentoring, 9(2), 37-55.

Martela, F., & Ryan, R. M. (2016). The benefits of benevolence: Basic psychological needs, beneficence, and the enhancement of well-being. Journal of Personality84(6), 750-764. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12215


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