Mindful leadership expert and CWB Senior Fellow Laurie Cameron discusses her book The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy From Morning to Evening (National Geographic, 2018) with CWB Senior Scholar Dr. Beth Cabrera at Mason’s Fall for the Book Festival on Wednesday, October 10, from noon to 1:15 p.m. in the Sandy Spring Bank tent on Wilkins Plaza.
Cameron, founder and CEO of the leadership company PurposeBlue, decided to write the book to help others experience the well-being benefits of integrating mindfulness into their daily lives – benefits that she says have transformed her own life for the better. “I have experienced the deeply transformative power of mindfulness in my own life and wanted to share that as life as sped up, become more complex and more uncertain. I discovered in my own experience what neuroscience has discovered – that whatever we practice grows stronger, and that we can cultivate the skills, develop the habits and orient our minds to be present, clear, calm, positive, compassionate and joyful. I also discovered from teaching mindful leadership (in high tech, fast-paced companies, federal government agencies, nonprofits and at the RH Smith School of Business) that many people find the idea of mindfulness to be conceptual, vague, or impossible for them. My purpose is to take what I learned from over two decades of studying and living at monasteries in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and share it with others. In The Mindful Day, I translate the teachings and science of mindfulness and compassion for everyday situations that we face in our uncertain, social media-rich, disruptive and intimate lives.”
She adds that her publisher, National Geographic, “was excited to launch a book that explained what it means to be an ‘inner explorer’ – what it actually looks like to be mindful in our daily lives, what are we realistically able to do when it comes to being mindful throughout the day. The book is structured to take you through a day, from waking up in the morning to easing into sleep at night, and the situations, challenges and potential that we face in our lives.”
The Mindful Day highlights 10 qualities of mindfulness that readers can integrate into their daily routines. Those qualities are: alertness, beginner’s mind (seeing the world with fresh eyes), acceptance, insight, impermanence, equanimity, interconnection, compassion, gratitude, and joy. As readers give those a try regularly with Cameron's guidance from the book, they can experience lasting well-being benefits over time. In the book’s introduction, Cameron encourages readers to set intentions for how they would like their mindfulness practices to impact themselves and others. “We are each living examples of what we care about,” she notes. “And like a pebble that hits a pond, we also leave ripples in our wake by our words, tone, and behaviors. As you give everyday mindfulness a try, think about what you want that impact to be.”
The book features sections on practicing mindfulness at home (both starting and ending each day), at work, at play, and in relationships with love. Each chapter ends with suggestions for practical actions readers can take to immediately apply what they've learned. "Since the book came out in late spring, I have been overjoyed at hearing stories from readers about how their lives are changing,” Cameron says.
Professionals can struggle to incorporate mindfulness practices into their busy days, and The Mindful Day offers a wealth of ideas for doing so – making it a wise choice for people with packed work schedules. “What I remind my coaching clients is that the busier you are, the more you need to take time out for stillness,” says Cameron. “When we create space, even for a few minutes at a time, we allow our minds and bodies to settle. It is like putting down a snow globe, and the scene inside becomes clear. We can see our situations at work more clearly, we make better decisions, we can be more creative, and we are much easier to be around. Short micro-practices allow us to easily integrate mindfulness into our day, so that we can reset and re-center when we need it most. I often teach the three breaths practice: bring attention to the breath, relax the body, and ask ‘what’s important now?’”
But it’s not just those with busy job schedules who can use help integrating mindfulness into their days. Everyone can benefit from the book’s guidance when trying to relieve stress and build well-being from day to day. “This book is for those of us who are cooking, listening to a child or spouse tell us about their day, negotiating an important contract, holding a meeting for a client or co-worker, or just trying to navigate daily moments of overwhelm – and how we can weave mindfulness into those moments so that we have a better capacity to understand, see clearly, and savor the wonder, awe and joy available in each day,” Cameron says.
The main message that Cameron hopes readers will take away from reading The Mindful Day is that, “Mindfulness is doable for you – you can deliberately engage in specific practices that change the structure and function of your brain and build embodied ways of being that allow you to be more focused, aware, connected, compassionate with yourself and others – and to amplify the joy in your life.” She explains, “Well-being is a skill, not dependent on outside circumstances but on how you respond and engage with the life that is right here. You can formally train the mind and body with meditations and exercises, and you can also do what you already do, but do it mindfully. Mindfulness is about paying attention in the here and now – to tuning in to your direct experience with curiosity, compassion and kindness towards yourself and others. It is life-changing to learn how to wake up from autopilot and be able to respond to the moments in our day with freshness. Whatever you practice gets stronger. Set an intention to practice, to deepen attention, to be more present, to listen differently.”
August 29, 2018