We recently had the chance to interview Christine Lustik, a Montana-based entrepreneur and educator whose work focuses on mindfulness, and how mindfulness can help people improve their lives and their businesses. She is the owner of Mindfulness in Organizations.
What does mindfulness mean to you?
To me, mindfulness is the ability to find space before I act in any situation. That space may be a second, but it’s enough to allow me to choose the response I won’t regret! Mindfulness is also the ability to connect my body and my mind. This allows me to have an early warning system when it comes to emotions and crazy thoughts. For example, I’ll feel my chest tighten or my forehead scrunch, and to me this immediately sends up a flag that says something is wrong! So I relax my forehead and then go in with curiosity: Did something happen I didn’t like? This process allows me to head off anxiety, worry, general grumpiness, and often more severe things like anger; things that aren’t going to end well. To me, mindfulness is an increase in the combination of self-awareness and external awareness.
What caused you to believe mindfulness was the key to increased happiness?
Well increased happiness is a tall order, but I can say that my personal experience caused me to believe in mindfulness and that, for me, it can increase happiness. I found it increased my personal happiness in a few key ways. First, by being better able to regulate the ups and downs of emotions throughout a day, I stay on a more even keel and this keeps me more focused. Why does focus increase my happiness? Well, when I’m focused I’m able to attack projects and move forward in my day. This makes me happy and makes me feel like my time is well spent! Second, in mindfulness there is a concentration on self-compassion. I know many people think they must be hard on themselves to “get stuff done” or “do the right thing.” But really, research shows us that when we are kinder to ourselves, we are more likely to move forward in a positive way, admit when we were wrong, and make positive changes. This self-compassion goes a long way to increasing our satisfaction with our lives and therefore increasing our happiness! And finally, I find that most stress and anxiety comes from the past and the future; what we perceive we did wrong in the past, and the opportunities we must mess up tomorrow. So it makes sense that the more time we spend in the present, the less time we spend in worry mode. Experience helped me believe in mindfulness and that it could increase my day-to-day happiness and now I’m grateful to see these little changes increase happiness in the people I work with every day.
When did you first come across mindfulness?
About 13 years ago, I started searching for some magic solution to the stress and anxiety in my life. About 10 years ago, I stumbled across the contemplative practice of mindfulness. I came to mindfulness much like many other people: I was burned out and tired. I was working on a Ph.D. while running a Department of Distance Education in a community college. This involved managing 35+ employees, while having to collaborate with faculty and student’s services to provide full programs for our online college students and providing college credit courses for high schools in 13 surrounding school districts. I think of that time now and am grateful that I didn’t give up my search for more resilience.
What direction do you want to take your company in?
Because I let myself burn out and pushed myself too far, I now teach mindfulness but have a Ph.D. in Education. I could have stayed in education, if it were what I really loved, and just implemented a self-care practice of mindfulness into my life. I hope to continue working more with audiences in high-stress environments like education, law enforcement, non-profits, etc., where I can help the people who have the experience and education to be in these high-risk jobs find their balance and continue doing important work. These people are so important to the success of our communities and I’d like to support them in their own success.
If you had to sum up your program in only a few words what would they be?
Inserting clarity, focus, and resiliency into our daily life.
We hope this interview allowed you to learn about the mind behind the program, Mindfulness in Organizations. KDSL Global will focus on mindfulness in May collecting best practices and what has been started in the MENA region. Join us for a free webinar with Christine on 16 May 2017 from 5-6pm Dubai time.
KDSL Global Intern
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