The first mindful leadership session at Horasis in 15 years, to fight against COVID-19

By Mei Chen, Founder, Cosmic Citizens, China

December 2, 2020

1. Intro: Mindful leading, abundant living

COVID-19 is a wake up call to the planet in 2020. A new earth needs a new mind. While one of the most respectable Think Tanks Horasis, gathered over 400 global leaders virtually at the Asia Meeting to discuss strategies and solutions for a post COVID-19 era, mindful leadership has arisen as an essential part. This is why we start the Horasis Asia Meeting 2020 with A Mindful Breathing in 15 years for the first time.

Founder of Cosmic Citizens, one of the largest woman empowerment platforms in China, Mei Chen, whom called herself a life-long student and teacher in mindfulness, has guided the Mindful Breathing for Leaders as the start of the prestigious Horasis as well as the closed session. She has helped hundreds of female entrepreneurs recover physically, financially and spiritually with guided mindful breathing technique, and her on line mindfulness course were downloaded nearly 30 000 times on the Chinese leading knowledge sharing platform Ximalaya within two months considering it is a new concept in modern China though meditation originated from the East.

2. Why is it critical to be a mindful leader?

For the global leaders, if you want to change the world, try to change yourself first.I f you want to change yourself, try to change your mind first. Now you are trying to change your mind and finally you realize it is not that easy. Giving up coffee? Trying to think positively in the pandemic facing challenges? Cannot stop those sabotage thoughts? Even stopping thinking of a rumor about you among colleagues or thinking of your ex? Why it is all so hard to stop the mind, or just to change the mind of thy self?

Now you know how hard it is to change yourself, you will know how hard it is to change others. As leaders, we all realize that changes is the only thing that does not change. How can leaders lead well in such a turbulent time of changes?

If you want to lead others, lead yourself first.

If you want to lead yourself, lead your mind first.

Mind is your past constantly trying to control your present and your future. The dead past goes on controlling the alive present. Mindful breathing is the guard to help us to be alert about it.

Man has succeeded in attaining to all the affluent that the whole of humanity has been longing for down the ages.T he society has succeeded materially in becoming rich, and now the earth is too weary and too tired not to mention in the facing of a global pandemic. When you live and lead as a mindful leader, try to ask, what will mindfulness do?

The mind becomes the individual reality. Being aware of thyself, is the first step to be a mindful leader. And as science has proven that meditation is probably the most effective way to improve ones self-awareness. Without self-awareness, there will be little room for mindfulness or abundance in leadership.

3. How is mindful leadership accomplished? 

In unexpected stressful times such as this global Pandemic most people experience fear, anxiety stress or even loss of hope. To be mindful becomes more essential than that in normal times especially for global leaders whom the world need them more than ever. Being tougher and stronger are not enough on the pursuit in leadership and abundance living. You only have to be present with a mindful breathing, because in the TRUE present there is no fear or stress.

Mindful Leadership and Breathing was designed to help speakers, and audiences at the Asia Meeting, but also to bring wisdom to the much larger audience over time on the Horasis YouTube Channel.

During the 30 minutes opening session, Mei guided leaders to have the thoughts return to the present effortlessly if given a chance. Even though living in the present has become a popular phrase, most people still approach mindfulness as a kind of spiritual challenge that requires them to intensely focus to make sure they stay mindful and present. 

As the leading meditation teacher Deepak said, this is the mental equivalent of balancing a penny on the end of your finger. The penny naturally wants to topple over unless you exert an effort to keep it balanced. This is work for the neurons in the mind as a training on the muscles in your body. At first this sounds wrong, because when you experience worry and anxiety, the most common types of fear, they hit you here and now. But here and now isnt the same as the Present. Here and now describes clock time. If you are waiting for a bus and it is five minutes late, once it arrives, it is here now. The present moment, however, has nothing to do with clock time.

The present is a state of mind, and in fact is the most natural state of mind, the state your mind wants to be in. When you, as leaders, are aware of your thoughts, the present and the decision you make, you are one step closer to be a mindful leader.

During the combined 1 hour sessions, Mei not only used the technique of Mindful Breathing to help leaders to create from inward a Road Map to becoming a mindful leader. She also explained it from a science perspective. The first obstacle for most people, is to realize the importance of breathing.

4. Why Breathing is so important?

As science has proven that when one sleeps, the brain is at its most fertile and the imagination is most expansive and the body is repairing itself. One of the reasons is that, when we lay down, we automatically breathe using our diaphragm the right way. This means we are automatically giving ourselves more oxygen. Oxygen is the key to this. And breathing is essential to bring more oxygen. But we cannot lay down all the time to get that amount oxygen for our brain, then it comes down to a mindful practice of breathing to generate equal result.

At this stage we must get to know a bit about our lungs to understand how mindful breathing can help in this process.

Lungs are shaped like triangles. Theyre bigger on the bottom and smaller on the top so that it can get the optimal amount of oxygen every time one breathe. Because lungs do not have muscles, so they are operated by a big muscle at the bottom, called diaphragm. The diaphragm does two things, every minute, for your entire life: it pulls down and pushes up. As your diaphragm pulls down, it creates a vacuum in your lungs which pulls air in. As it pushes up, it creates pressure in your lungs which pushes carbon dioxideused air that has had all the energy taken out of itout. That is the inhale-and-exhale process that all mammals and reptiles do.

Inside your lungs, you have little bags called alveoli. When the air comes in, these sacks grab the oxygen molecules and take them into your bloodstream. From there, they go to your cells, which will turn them into energy. Your lungs are bigger at the bottom. The bottom occupies about 50% of the oxygen capacity of your lungs. This is where the biggest concentration of the alveolus is. Finally you ask why we didn’t learn how to breath earlier in our lives and learn to bring more oxygen and eventually to create more energy to the bottom instead of ignoring it the entire life.

Now you understand that breathing is the most important thing that one does. It now makes sense to focus on breathing more efficiently as the first step to live, to grow and to lead. Breathing is key to ones ability to become more mindful and abundant.

With all the above teaching, In the opening session Mei guided global leaders from Singapore, Indonesia, Philippine, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and United States, many other countries, to practice mindful breathing through a clear three-step from gratitude, to self-affirmation and goal setting. This can be practiced alone or can be practiced with team or family members as collective meditation for a shared goal or vision.

In the closing session, by explaining the elements of mindful leading and abundant living includes the air we breathe, the thoughts we think, the moves we make and the words we speak, Mei reviewed the key points of the opening session and explain further how mindful breathing shall be practiced not only individually, but also be embraced in the family and in team building to create a new earth for the after COVID-19 era.

Mei emphasize that mindful leadership starts with integrity and she asked this question: how would you describe yourself as a leader deep down by teaching the technique of creating a brain screen while asking the audiences to keep the eyes closed. When we are truly mindful and grateful as the leaders have practiced in the opening session, integrity would be built as the foundation.

5. Mindfulness creates Abundance.

In Horasis we believe we shall all Unite, Inspire and Create! In the end of this article hopefully you are about to give the mindful breathing a try, lets review the question from the beginning of the article, will you join us on this journey of becoming mindful leaders?

Lastly, if you can gently close your eyes and pay attention to your breath and present at this moment, you will experience mindfulness and calmness with the least effort. I will leave you with these questions in your mindfulness: How will you feel when you have all that you want? What will you do? Who will you help? What changes will you bring to the world? Will that affect your leadership style?

Those are the Mindful Leading and Abundant Living question for you. Create from abundance not from lacking. Lead from mindfulness not from authority.

Cosmic citizens has been a co-organiser with Horasis since 2019. This is the first time the Foudner Mei herself chaired both the opening and the closing session. United with Horasis, we call for a more mindfulness-led world by you all. Join us for more mindful breathing sessions with global leaders at Horasis.

Lead mindfully. Live abundantly.