Profit with Presence
Mindful Leadership Blog

What is Mindfulness Meditation and How Does It Work? How to Live in the Gap Like a Pro

Jun 27, 2023

Research shows that we have some 6,000 thoughts per day. Most of our thoughts are repetitive, and many are negative and not helpful—and importantly, stress and anxiety reside in thoughts.

Years of unconsciously living within the tyranny of thought, without noticing or creating a gap or separation, lead many of us to believe that we are our thoughts. We are so involved in our thoughts that we don’t separate ourselves from the thoughts we habitually manufacture.


In truth, we are simply the one who hears the thoughts; we are not the thoughts. As we develop awareness and create a gap, or space, around the thoughts, we realize listening to our inner critic is a choice. We must grow our awareness if we want to quiet the inner critic and slow incessant thinking.


You can live in the gap, and one way to do this is through mindfulness meditation.


What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we are doing in a nonjudgmental state. Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Mindfulness is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”


It’s also beneficial to think of what mindfulness is not: multitasking, distraction, less than full awareness of what you are doing, and judgment. Mindfulness is a natural state and possibly most easily accessed in nature.


In the modern, fast-paced, online world, it can be difficult to access. Fortunately, there are practices that foster mindfulness. The most effective and portable practice is possibly meditation.


You can tame your thoughts through meditation by not paying attention to them and focusing on something else, like your breath. I know that sounds weird, but by focusing on something else, typically the breath or a mantra, you notice a thought when it arises and can create a slight separation, or gap, between the thought and yourself.


These gaps in the inner dialogue and gaps between thoughts create the stillness from which peace, joy, and happiness spring.


Meditation is a powerful practice to help you become aware of breath, thought, sensations, and Presence.


How exactly does mindfulness meditation work?

We cannot be in the present moment and in thought, or attending to the voice in our head, at the same time. By practicing being in the present moment, or being in the gap, you are reducing repetitive and unproductive thoughts and quieting the inner critic.


Through mindfulness meditation, we can quiet the inner critic and learn which internal dialogues to pay attention to and which to let go of. Likewise, we can train what remains of the inner critic to be more positive and aligned with our life purpose and vision, and to be certain that we have them.


Mindfulness takes practice. It’s up to you if you want to label it as work, but for me, finding the gap is finding the joy in life. Peace, joy, and happiness all exist in the gap. Stress and anxiety exist in thoughts that we can learn to separate ourselves from.


By observing the mind, you get to know yourself better and become more authentic, humble, grateful, and compassionate. You pay less attention to your and other people’s stories and focus more on what’s genuine. The more you meditate, the larger and more evident the benefits become.


Everything of consequence in mindfulness involves practice, and this practice will improve your life in a positive way.

I wrote a book, Profit with Presence: The 12 Pillars of Mindful Leadership, which goes in to further detail about this topic and more.

Although the world is currently abuzz with the term “mindfulness,” some believe mindfulness is a fringe activity to be practiced before or after the workday, if at all. Too few business professionals take the time needed to be present and aware throughout the workday, which is counterproductive. Mindfulness is not only a path to personal success, but a sound business strategy.  

My hope is to positively impact the world through infusing more mindfulness into business -- and it starts with each of us individually. Together, we can create a future where mindfulness is deeply embedded in our work culture, leading to greater well-being, productivity, and meaningful success for all.

- Dr Eric Holsapple


Get my free mindfulness resources here

Learn more about my book, Profit with Presence: The 12 Pillars of Mindful Leadership here

Check out the Profit with Presence Podcast Miniseries here

Watch videos on YouTube here

Learn more about my nonprofit, Living in the Gap, here


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