According to a study, the top six competencies that distinguish star performers from average performers in the tech sector are;

  • [EQ] Strong achievement drive and high achievement standards
  • [EQ] Ability to influence
  • [IQ] Conceptual thinking
  • [IQ] Analytical ability
  • [EQ] Initiative in taking on challenges
  • [EQ] Self-confidence

Science also suggests that regular mindfulness practice, through meditation, is an effective support for stress, worry, lack of focus, relationship problems and more.

Now scientists are finding evidence supporting many of these claims. You can read about their discoveries below.

How meditation helps with stress


According to neuroscientists as you continue to meditate your brain physically changes, even though you’re not aware of it re-shaping itself. Meditation activates part of our nervous system helping with stress management.

Do you feel pressured from problems with work, relationships or your personal finances? Doctors call it stress when mental and emotional pressures builds up.

Stress can be harmful. It distracts you from getting on with enjoying your life. It gets in the way of your attempts to sort out the problems causing it. If you let it get the better of you, it can even make you physically ill. So dealing with your stress is important.


Stress is primarily designed to help us get out of physical danger. When we feel threatened, a part of our brain called the amygdala sets off an alarm bell which triggers the “fight or flight” response of our nervous system, making us ready to respond. Our blood is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, increasing our heart rate and blood pressure, as well as our respiration. This allows us to transport oxygen to our muscles quickly so we can “act fast”.

While this heightened state once helped us with the physical threat of, say, a sabre-toothed tiger, it does little to help us with today’s worries, such as when we’ve forgotten to hit “save” on a word document. But the response is still the same.


Stress stops the normal functioning of our body. The body assumes there’s a physical threat at hand, so it channels energy into getting out of immediate danger. To do this, it shuts down non-essential systems which are taking up energy. Our digestive processes, immune system, growth and reproductive processes are inhibited (no time for eating or sex when we’re being chased!)

A bit of stress in short doses is useful in improving our memory and enhancing performance. However, too much, too regularly, is extremely damaging to our mental and physical well-being. It can lead to stomach ulcers, heart problems, illnesses, lowered libido… the list goes on.


Simply put, meditation for stress soothes our nervous system. While stress activates the “fight or flight” part of our nervous system, mindfulness meditation activates the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system, helping with stress management. Our heart rate slows, our respiration slows and our blood pressure drops. This is often called the “relaxation response”. While chronic activation of the fight or flight response can be extremely damaging to the body, the relaxation response is restorative, so meditation benefits our wellbeing.


People who practise mindfulness meditation regularly report feeling less stressed and more emotionally balanced. According to neuroscientists, as you continue to meditate, your brain physically changes, even though you’re not aware of it re-shaping itself. They’re also beginning to understand why meditation is effective for managing stress. Using brain imaging techniques, they’ve observed changes in the threat system of the brain. The response kicks-off in the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for triggering fear. People who suffer from chronic anxiety have a more reactive amygdala, and this leaves them feeling threatened much of the time.

…evidence that meditation served as a realistic and maintainable stress management technique.

A study performed at Stanford found that an 8-week mindfulness course reduced the reactivity of the amygdala and increased activity in areas of the prefrontal cortex that help regulate emotions, subsequently reducing stress. Similarly, researchers from Harvard University discovered corresponding changes in the physical structure of the brain with a similar meditation course; there was a lower density of neurons in the amygdala and greater density of neurons in areas involved in emotional control – evidence that meditation served as a realistic and maintainable stress management technique

How meditation can boost your creativity


Research has found meditation to promote ‘DIVERGENT THINKING’ a type of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated. Also affects awareness and the FILTERING out of other mental processes during creative tasks.

Whatever you do, whether you’re an artist, inventor, a sales assistant or have a job you don’t think is “creative” – creativity can help you. Living a full life is a creative act in itself, and creative thinking has the power to help you open doors and take advantage of all your opportunities. When you’re faced with problems – whether that’s with a relationship, a broken appliance or an issue in your work – a touch of creativity can often help you find the solution.

So it’s good to know that scientists have found evidence that meditation helps people to be more creative.


In 2012, scientists from the University of Groningen and North Dakota State University tested the theory that mindfulness affects awareness and the filtering out of other mental processes during creative tasks. Studying a large number of volunteers, the researchers found that mindfulness practice predicted and improved “insight” problem solving, which is “seeing” and solving problems in a novel way. This study was the first of its kind to document a direct link between mindfulness and creativity.


In a 2012 study at Leiden University, Netherlands, scientists reported that “open monitoring” meditation (non-reactive observation of your thoughts over time) promoted “divergent thinking”, a type of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated.

Other recent research, in Israel, yielded similar results. Scientists there experimented to see if there was a connection between mindfulness practice and “cognitive rigidity” (an inability to think of different possible solutions to a problem) by using a creative task.

They found that experienced mindfulness meditators scored much lower in rigidity – that is, their minds were freer to come up with new ideas – than non-meditators who had registered for their first meditation retreat.

The researchers concluded,

“that mindfulness meditation reduces cognitive rigidity via the tendency to be ‘blinded’ by experience”.

Their results reflect “the benefits of mindfulness practice regarding a reduced tendency to overlook novel and adaptive ways of responding due to past experience, both in and out of the clinical setting.”

How meditation can improve your focus


Neuroscientists have also found that, after just 11 hours of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self control.

Whether we’re an Olympic athlete or just learning to play football, a concert violinist or an amateur guitarist, a surgeon, mathematician, builder – whatever our pursuit – our performance and ability to learn new things is dependent on our ability to focus.

But it goes beyond this. Focus can have far reaching consequences in many areas of our lives. Being able to focus and resist distraction is also linked to our ability to control our impulses, emotions and achieve long-term goals.


Studies have found that children who are better able to regulate their attention and impulses are four times less likely to have a criminal record, three times less likely to be addicted to drugs, have more satisfying marriages and have significantly lower body mass indexes as adults. The ability to control our impulses and focus our attention has even been found to be a better predictor of academic success than IQ. No point in having an amazing brain if you can’t focus its power and put it to use

Research suggests that people use a range of “smart drugs” – from prescribed types to illicit ones – to boost their work or academic performance. Wouldn’t it be safer and healthier, to develop focus more naturally through training the mind, and mindfulness meditation?


A 2012 US study examined how meditation training affected individuals’ behaviour in multitasking at work (if you’re an employer or an employee, this is well worth your attention). Researchers tested three groups: (1) those who underwent an 8-week training course on mindfulness-based meditation, (2) those who endured a wait period, were tested, and then underwent the same 8-week training, and (3) those who had 8-weeks of training in body relaxation.

The researchers found that, compared with the people who didn’t meditate,

_“those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance.” _

Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can improve our ability to sustain attention. The ability to concentrate on our breathing for long periods of time transfers over to other pursuits. If we can focus on a subtle object like our breath for 20 minutes, think how easy it will be to focus on sports, work, our partner, or anything else for that matter.

How meditation can help your relationships


Meditation can improve relationships with everyone you meet. You become more comfortable with yourself, which makes it easier for others to get on with you.

If you’re in a relationship, you naturally want it to succeed, so that both of you are happy, in tune, and growing together. Inevitably though, conflicts happen. Sometimes you may not see eye to eye and your expectations of each other differ. You might find fault with your partner, or vice versa. Or you might be unhappy with yourself, and that makes you difficult to be around. Meditation for relationships might help you to be a little easier on yourself, and on your partner too.

One of the many proven benefits of regular mindfulness meditation is that it improves relationships. Not just with those nearest to you, but also with everyone you meet. You see yourself, your world and the people in your world in a new light. You become more comfortable with yourself, which makes it easier for others to get on with you, and you find it easier to accept them as they are. In fact meditation for relationships can be valuable gift, not just to yourself, but the people around you.


A 2007 study by researchers at The University of Rochester revealed that mindfulness practice was associated with greater relationship satisfaction. It was also related to better communication quality during relationship discussions.

Another study, at the University of Leuven, found that couples who meditated displayed more mindful observation and more empathy toward each other. They were inclined towards more mindful description, acting with awareness, and non-judgmental acceptance. With those changes, couples were better able to identify and describe their feelings, more satisfied with their bodies, less anxious socially, and they were less likely to share any distress.

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

“Do nothing,” Poonjaji advised from his dais at the front. Recently unearthed Chinese texts provide new inspiration in the search for enlightenment here and now. Sudden Awakening

Found this great post here.

In 1993, I went to Lucknow, India to receive teachings from the Advaita master H.W. L. Poonjaji, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi. Many of my friends and colleagues, including several dedicated teachers of Vipassana meditation, had preceded me to Poonjaji’s door. By the time I arrived, his fame had blossomed and his small living room bulged with seekers from around the world who had elbowed their way into his morning satsang. I found a flat square saffron cushion in the back of the room and squeezed onto it, my knees bumping my neighbors on both sides. Ceiling fans spun in a feeble attempt to cool the already rising temperatures of the still early morning, and stifling a yawn as I wiped sweat from my brow, I wondered what I was doing in this steamy room at the foot of a guru. I didn’t believe in gurus. I had discovered meditation in my early twenties, had wended my way through various practices for the next decade, and had landed squarely in the Vipassana Buddhist camp. For years I diligently attended retreats and was grateful for the outpouring of insights, albeit not entirely flattering, that occurred during the ten or twenty-one days of silence and requisite slow motion. No matter how easy or difficult the days of sitting had been, I consistently cherished the hard-won openness of heart that accompanied my return to the world, even though I knew that within days my normal life would overwhelm my senses and dispel all calm from my seemingly imperturbable mind. Still, my spiritual progress was steady and assured, and I assumed that if I kept practicing I would gradually become clearer, calmer, kinder, and wiser.

“Do nothing,” Poonjaji advised from his dais at the front of the room, his voice raspy with age, his Indian accent thick, his wool-capped head bobbing in that nod-like motion that characterizes Indians and perplexes Westerners. Exuding a seductive warmth laced with an icy, commander-in-chief sternness, Papaji (as we called him to show respect) insisted we not meditate or do yoga or fast or sit naked in the snow to awaken the mind. Then he chuckled, flashing his pearly false teeth, and the whole room burst into laughter.

Any practice one did would create a state of mind that was temporary, Papaji told us. Meditation, yoga, psychedelics, fire walking, visualizing deities, bungee jumping, and other techniques might be effective in inducing temporary states of calm, bliss, or insight, but he was not interested in fleeting conditions of the mind. What Papaji demanded we recognize was the beingness that resides at the core of existence, that is untouched by birth and death, joy or sorrow, and requires no effort to attain because there is absolutely nothing to attain. By engaging in any practice, no matter how effective, one gave substance to obstacles that did not in fact exist by reifying the notion that awakening required some kind of special activity. All one needed to do was turn awareness away from objects of perception and onto awareness itself. “See the one who is seeing,” Papaji said. “Be quiet. Be still.”

In Papaji’s presence, recognizing one’s already extant awakening was effortless if one relaxed deeply enough to simply be. Nearly everyone who visited this teacher tasted true nature—a feeling of boundless awareness that existed within us and around us regardless of what we did or did not do, a consciousness that we could see in one another’s eyes. The one who is seeing was the very same one looking back, consciousness itself. And in that moment, all of the Buddhist teachings I had been struggling to understand through the gradual accumulation of insights became strikingly clear: there is no separate self; all arising phenomena are impermanent; suffering exists until we identify not with the changing conditions of our lives but with consciousness itself, which is boundless and more intimate than our breath.

Inadvertently, Poonjaji created waves in the territory of those who espoused the theory of gradual awakening, namely, in the land of Western Buddhism. Many of my Western friends who had studied with the most famous Thai and Burmese meditation masters and had sequestered themselves repeatedly in rigorous three-month meditation retreats, began seeking out teachers who espoused the formless practice of sudden awakening.

In 1998, not long after my fourth trip to Lucknow to “be with the master,” as my friends said (words that stuck in my gullet despite my boundless reverence for Papaji), I met Wendi Adamek in a novel-writing class at the University of Iowa, and was immediately struck by her wit, talent, and demure beauty. During a dinner party one evening in her white clapboard house near campus, Wendi took me on a tour of her home. The bookshelves in her office supported the weight of a serious collection of books on Buddhism—in Chinese. This slim and bespectacled dark-haired woman in her early thirties was not only an aspiring fantasy novelist, it turned out, but also, and primarily, a scholar of medieval Chinese Buddhism. (Wendi is now an Assistant Professor of Chinese Religion at Barnard College.) In a rush of excitement, Wendi told me that she had recently been awarded a sizeable National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to conduct research on materials discovered at a remote archaeological site in China. Her enthusiasm was contagious—as her dinner party guests chirped away in the garden munching roasted corn and barbecued salmon, Wendi and I lingered in her office, and she unveiled the details of her research.

In 1900, a caretaker at the Magao Caves near the Silk Road oasis of Dunhuang, in China’s Gansu Province, accidentally broke through a cave wall. To his surprise, he came upon a pile of dusty, time-worn scrolls that scholars later informed him had been concealed in the secret enclave for centuries. Wendi was most elated about a recovered eighth-century text called the Lidai fabao ji, by a radical Buddhist sect called the Bao Tang. Up to that point, it had been a “phantom work,” a work referred to in other texts of the era but never before seen. The Bao Tang embraced a formless practice known as “sudden awakening” and claimed that realization was available to everyone, laypeople and ordained, men and women, royalty and peasants alike. Wu Zhu, the sect’s founder, also claimed that awakening required no formal practice: “The dharma is separate from all contemplation practices. No-thought is precisely no-practice, no-thought is precisely no-contemplation.” In fact, Wu Zhu attested that by engaging in any formal practice one gave substance to impediments that did not in fact exist.

The teachings articulated in the Lidai fabao ji were nearly word for word what Poonjaji had uttered in his living room in Lucknow twelve hundred years after the text had been compiled; these were teachings I hadn’t received from any of my many dharma teachers during two decades of Buddhist study. Suddenly, this obscure text from eighth-century China seemed utterly relevant to the crossroads I had encountered on my own path. Should I continue to practice in the dharma hall, following my breath and noting sensations, thoughts, and feelings as they arose and passed away in an attempt to reach enlightenment, or should I give up all effort and all practices and simply rest in what I had recognized as innate Buddha-nature? Would the former deliver me where I hoped to land, and was I capable of the latter? Wendi, who most often engages in dialogue with other academics, seemed bemused by my sudden interest and did not hesitate to answer the questions I thrust upon her. Who was this character Wu Zhu, and what happened to the Bao Tang?

The sect mushroomed partially as a response to the fact that Buddhism in eighth-century China, while highly popular, had become quite formalized, thanks in part to the lavish support of the T’ang dynasty. Grand and ornate monasteries flourished throughout the empire, but ordination cost a fortune, and monks were required to conduct complex purifications, recite sutras, chant prayers for the protection of the empire, and perform daily ceremonies. Buddhism was popular among laypeople who—like practitioners throughout the world today—attended retreats and made offerings. But the practice as a whole, Wendi explained, was oriented toward ritual, purification, and the gaining of merit rather than attaining direct realization of the innate nature of mind, or Buddha-nature.

While these descriptions of T’ang-dynasty Buddhism did not precisely parallel my own experience in the centers where I had practiced, there were striking resemblances. I had practiced in my neighbor’s zendo for years, bowing and staring at the walls, reciting lineage prayers and chanting the Heart Sutra, which, while mysteriously calming, were also hauntingly opaque. I had sat in retreat after retreat in Vipassana meditation halls following my breath and noting all sensations, and had been soothed and inspired each evening as brilliant teachers delivered moving, insightful, and poetic dharma talks. But no one mentioned enlightenment. I had attended initiations, transmissions, and empowerments with highly revered Tibetan rinpoches, reciting prayers in Tibetan as the great masters wielded bells and drums with impressive dexterity and wrathful and benign deities seemed to take on a three-dimensional presence and float out of their colorful brocade frames on the walls. But no matter where I turned, enlightenment continued to be a condition that was essentially unattainable by the likes of me. At best, awakening was a state to be achieved through untold devotion, dedication, striving, prostrations, prayers, and endless hours on the zafu that would gradually result, if you were among the karmically blessed, in perhaps delivering you a bit closer to the cherished but unutterable outcome.

Beginning in 730 C.E., offshoot movements arose in China attacking the establishment and claiming that institutionalized Buddhism, in the words of Wendi, “nurtured the illusion that awakening was a condition to be achieved rather than one’s own inherent reality.” The most famous movement became known as the Southern School of Ch’an (which later flourished in Japan as Zen), whose hallmark was the teaching of sudden awakening, the direct realization of one’s innate awakening independent of any affiliation with a government-supported monastery or any particular ritual or practice. The Bao Tang claimed allegiance to the Southern School, and the Lidai fabao ji, written by anonymous members of the sect, gained notoriety because of the clarity of its nondual teachings.

During an era when laywomen occupied the lowest rung of an entrenched hierarchical spiritual system, the Bao Tang welcomed them into its fold. Within the Lidai fabao ji are the only full-fledged accounts in any of the early Ch’an texts of women as disciples of Ch’an. This and other clues in the literary style have led Wendi to wonder if Wu Zhu’s female disciples may have had a hand in the actual writing of the Lidai fabao ji. Their authorship would be one possible explanation for the text’s anonymous attribution; nearly all other texts of this era were attributed to specific authors.

One of the most remarkable stories in the Lidai fabao ji is that of the daughter of a Grand Councillor who came to Wu Zhu for teachings:

She was quick-witted and clever, extensively learned and knowledgeable, and when asked a question she was never without an answer. She came to pay obeisance to the Venerable [Wu Zhu]. The Venerable saw that she was obdurate and determined on chastity and he preached the Dharma for her.

“This Dharma is not caused and conditioned, is neither false nor not false… . The Dharma is beyond eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind… . No-thought is precisely no-body, no-thought is precisely no-mind. No-thought is precisely no-preciousness, no-thought is precisely no-worthlessness. No-thought is precisely no-high, no-thought is precisely no-low. At the time of true no-thought, no-thought itself is not.”

Upon hearing Wu Zhu’s teaching, the Grand Councillor’s daughter gains instant awakening, joins her hands together and “weeps grievously, a rain of tears.” Wu Zhu gives her the dharma name Lian Jian Xing (Complete Seeing Nature) and she tonsures herself, dons robes, and goes on to become renowned as “a leader amongst nuns.”

Imagine an eighth-century Chinese woman so empowered by her experience of awakening that she has the confidence to disregard the complex and expensive bureaucratic process of ordination and proclaim herself a nun in flagrant defiance of the prevailing spiritual institutions. Knowing of this woman in the past who broke away from the bureaucratized forms of religion to teach from the authority of her own awakening has had a profound impact on me. If Lian Jian Xing could do this, might I? My female colleagues are becoming more and more adamant about parity in contemporary Western Buddhist institutions as, despite the sincere efforts of some organizations to divest the tradition of historical patriarchal values, we continue to see more men in leadership and teaching roles than women. Until this changes, the primary effect of this nun’s story will be reassurance that true spiritual authority lies within the heart of my own religious experience and not necessarily in the institutions that claim such authority.

During long Vipassana retreats, the thought had often crossed my mind that had women risen to power in historical Buddhist hierarchies, they would have created a different style of practice—something less harsh and more nurturing, something that emphasized both ease of being and relatedness among the practitioners, something more celebratory of embodied life. I imagined instead of not making eye contact, one would exchange glances full of lovingkindness with one’s meditation colleagues. I imagined shoulder rubs, foot massages, refreshing the skin with petal-infused mists, and sharing jugs of freshly made cucumber water. Thinking of Lian Xiang Jian, I surmised that there must have been thousands of courageous and spiritually illuminated women in the past, women we do not hear about who at particular moments in history emerged as leaders and who embraced forms of practice that emphasized peacefulness, relatedness, and ease.

These fantasies quickly came undone as Wendi told me about the next phase of her research, a translation of the inscriptions left on cave walls by the nuns of Baoshan, in the Yunnan Province of China. In the twelfth century, these women practiced an extreme form of asceticism, including severe fasting, or what scholars today call “holy anorexia.” Clearly, women can be drawn to practices that are characterized by self-affliction as well as those characterized by ease and noneffort. So where does this leave me? Am I an adherent of Advaita and the notion of Sudden Awakening, or am I a Buddhist who practices Vipassana on the zafu, with the occasional foray into Dzogchen retreats? Must we be adherents of only one school to be authentic in our practice and our devotion, or can we straddle however many traditions we find inspiring and helpful?

Last winter, I attended a ten-day Vipassana retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California. For the first few days, I followed the instructions with a quiet and obedient commitment despite Poonjaji’s gruff voice echoing in my mind, “Do not meditate.” As my mind calmed and my body became more comfortable with the long hours of stillness, I abandoned the rigorous noting of sensations, thoughts, and feelings to the most minute of details; instead I allowed myself to open into a spacious awareness where all these came and went of their own accord, in their own rhythm, and I watched, felt, heard, and saw in an easy, allowing way. When I felt the urge, I did not walk in slow motion steps noting the lifting, rising, and falling of one foot and then the other; instead I strode up the hill under the most blazing of winter-blue skies until, far beyond the earshot of fellow yogis, I sang out loud and danced in the wind. And when such activities led to a vagueness of mental acuity and a spaced-out drowsiness accompanied my return to the zafu, I went back to noting breath, thoughts, and sensations until my attention became stabilized enough to allow an openness of mind to flourish once again. I did not keep my antics secret from my teachers, nor did they discourage me. Different students respond to different styles of practice, they said. At a certain point you have a toolbox full of techniques, and you pull out what you need at any given moment. Awakening is the point, not methodology.

I was happy to be back in the dharma hall, a place I had come to love beyond measure during all my years of practice. It was here that I felt most safe, not only from a world that was characterized by rampant violence, glorified greed, and a global politic severed from truth-telling—but also from the confusion of my own mind. It was here that I was able to experience the deepest clarity of heart and mind. It was here that I dissolved into the grief that had gone ungrieved, here that my heart broke open enough to let everyone in, even those I had ousted, here that I found myself most vulnerable and most alive. I have come to realize that despite the fact that the spiritual teachers whom I have had the good fortune to encounter in this lifetime can appear to be in conflict about the methodologies that foster awakening, my own experiences form an unbroken continuum. Wisdom does accumulate—not in a linear arithmetic progression but in a complex, dynamic system. Each understanding sheds light upon the others in an interactive living process. Insights that seem unassailable may suddenly meet passionate doubt, all clarity shattered at the very moment it is most needed. Then, just as suddenly, wisdom will resurface, stronger for having vanished, wisdom that now knows of its own disintegration.

At the core of Buddhist teaching is the awakened mind—the knowing that we are not this body but consciousness itself, a boundless, luminous, loving, peaceful, intelligent presence. I have seen this in one way or another over and over again. Having tasted and glimpsed and savored such knowing, now what?

Now, I go on retreat when I am able. Poonjaji did say not to meditate, but he also said, “Be quiet. Be still.”

Here, perhaps, lies the heart of the quest. Here, perhaps, is the most repeated guidance in all of Buddhist practice. Here, perhaps, is the place where all traditions come together without conflict. Be quiet, be still. Let the mind rest. Discover who you really are.

“In the moment of no-thought, no-thought itself is not,” said Wu Zhu.

Be quiet. Be still.

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practicing Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App4. Improve Self Awareness with the Fettle-App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

I’ve found Tai Chi to be very valuable for me and with Yoga you can get the same type of meditation benefits. Your ultimate guide to 20 types of Yoga.

’ve been practicing Tai Chi for over 25 years and it has been an integral part of my mindfulness practice. Yoga like Tai Chi share many of the same benefits. Below is a great list for anyone looking into starting Yoga. 20 Types of Yoga Explained is the Ultimate Guide. Originating in ancient India, Yoga can be thought of as a group of disciplines including mental, spiritual, and physical exercises. Yoga is thought to have dated back to the fifth centuries BC. One of the most well-known types of yoga is Hatha, and this has been documented since the 11th century. There are many yoga schools and other organisations which practice different schools of yoga. Yoga is normally practised in groups, although once you have mastered the moves and disciplines, there is no reason why you cannot practise in the comfort of your own home, on a beach, or out in the open countryside.

Table of Contents

Ananda yoga

Ananda yoga can be described as an ‘inward yoga’ rather than an athletic practice. The discipline focuses on gentle postures which are designed to move energy to the brain and uplift the consciousness. Ananda yoga raises your level of consciousness and harmonises body, mind and soul. This style of yoga prepares the body for meditation and focus on correct body alignment and controlled breathing. The main goal of this discipline is to control the subtle energies, harmonise the body and uplift the mind. This type of yoga also prepares the mind for deeper meditation and uplift the consciousness. To achieve this, the student will work with not only the body, but the inner faculties of both mind and heart. The object is to awaken and experience the prana within oneself, particularly the energies of the chakras. Exercise and stress relief – while they will be used in this discipline – are not the primary factors. Rather, the goal is to uplift the consciousness. The unique feature of this particular discipline is the use of the silent affirmations whilst in asanas. This then becomes a means to feel more aware of the subtle energies which achieve inner contentment. Who can do this? Anyone who has a genuine interest in the traditions of ancient yoga can do this. Even if you think you are too stiff or slow, you will benefit from this style. It is designed to calm the mind, bring harmony to body and soul, and equip you better to deal with daily stresses of life.

Anasara yoga

This is a relatively new form of yoga, dating back to 1997 and created by John Friend. This type of yoga is meant to be a way to open your heart and connect with the inner goodness in yourself and others. It is a heart-felt and accepting form, which does not fit into the ‘cookie-cutter’ style. Students are meant to express themselves to their fullest ability through their poses. Postures are still challenging and the discipline combines the strict principles of posture and alignment with the more relaxed side of the student. The discipline believes that by using the physical practice of yoga, it will assist students to let their inner goodness shine through. The discipline is equally rigorous for the body and the mind. Anasara yoga is based on the principle that all people are filled with intrinsic goodness, which will come through with this practice. The class will normally start with a centering period, where devotional recognition of all the good things around are remembered. Each asana is devoted to a separate theme of principles and poses, which gives the teacher time to devote to new students. Beginners will find that each class holds something new and different for them. Teachers may use verbal cues and physical adjustments. Each pose is co-ordinated with breath and each posture is checked for correctness. Props are sometimes used to help students achieve a better form of the pose. Who can do this? Even though this is primarily done by beginners and first timers, it can be done by anyone, especially those who think they are not flexible enough to do poses. This is a perfect style to start a yoga practice.

Ashtanga yoga

This discipline was made popular in the early 1970’s by Pattabhi Jois. There are six established sequences, which are always followed in strict order. Both the inhale and the exhale in ashtanga yoga should be steady and even. Try to keep them both the same length of time. The exact poses are followed in the exact order every time. The sequences are numbers from one to six as the primary series, secondary series, third series etc. it is a rapidly moving discipline which flows from one move to the next with an inhale and an exhale. The specific sequences ensure that this becomes a very rigorous session. This is a very hot and sweaty practice which is physically demanding. The synchronising of breath, combined with the series of postures produces intense internal heat. Profuse sweating is to be expected. The purifying sweat detoxifies the muscles and organs, and results in improved circulation, stamina, and flexibility. Other benefits are a strong body and a calm mind. Who can do this? People who are well versed with yoga and who are more athletic will benefit. This discipline is not for beginners or anyone who is recovering from injuries.

Bikram yoga

This was developed about thirty years ago, by Bikram Choudhury. Classes are held in heated rooms. Often the temperatures are as high as 105 degrees with 40% humidity. There are 26 poses in this discipline and each of them is repeated twice. The class always follows the same routine and series. This is a very comprehensive style of yoga which includes all the components of a good fitness workout. Strength, endurance, cardiovascular and weight loss all combine in this practice. This is a style of yoga which is carried out in a hot environment, and it is this high temperature which promotes flexibility and detoxification. The heat also ensures that injuries are minimum. An interesting fact is that the founder Bikram Choudhury, was a Gold Medal Olympic weight lifter in 1963. Who can do this? If you want to do yoga specifically for weight loss and fitness, then this is a good choice for you. Because of the 26 poses which are done twice, a certain level of fitness is needed before joining. It may not be the style for you if you get dehydrated easily as some instructors do not allow students to drink during classes. You should also have some tolerance to higher levels of heat and humidity.

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is one of the original six movements, and one of the most popular styles in the western hemisphere. It combines all the other types of modern yoga and is a basic and classical approach to posture and breathing routines. The word hatha means force. It is this force which is relied on to lengthen the muscles and refresh the mind. This is where most people start when they take up yoga as it is a gentle introduction to basic yoga postures. It is unusual to break out in a sweat as it is done in a comfortable temperature. The result is that the student leaves the class feeling looser and more relaxed. Muscles feel longer and the mind refreshed. The aim is to achieve enlightenment and self- realization. It is also a very popular way to deal with stress management and is a good form of exercise. The student should practice in a calm and meditative mood where they can sit quietly and start the series. Control and grace are important, as well as being aware of how the body performs various moves. Moves may vary from one class to another and the student should not try to overdo things or compete with other students. Who can do this? Anyone can do this. The requirements are a mat and motivation! The practice involves a series of postures which are designed to teach you to sit still for longer and thus prepare you for meditation.

Hot yoga

This is very similar to Bikram yoga, with the main difference being in that the sequence is not performed the same every time. The room will be heated to anywhere between 85 – 105 degrees and sweating is a part of the routine. Sweating helps rid the body of toxins, while the student works towards increasing strength and flexibility. Injuries are kept at a minimum because the body is warmed up before starting any moves. The term ‘hot yoga’ refers to any yoga which is carried out in hot and humid conditions. Bikram, Forrest yoga, Power yoga and TriBalance yoga are all technically types of hot yoga, although they may all have their own individual sequences which they adhere to. The temperatures are meant to replicate the natural temperatures and humidity conditions in India where they originated. TriBalance yoga is carried out in slightly warmer conditions than Bikram, but with less humidity. Who can do this? Even athletes find that this is one of the hardest forms of yoga, so it is essential that you are well prepared before you try this class. It is not for people who get hot very quickly, or for those that cannot tolerate high heat. You must make sure you will be able to rehydrate yourself during the class. If you are not in tune with your body, so that you know if you should stop because you are not feeling well, then this class may not be for you. It is not a class where you set out to compete with another person. This is an extremely hard class and should be researched before you start it.

Integral yoga

This discipline is also sometimes known as supramental yoga. This is a very traditional type which combines posture, breathing, meditation, chanting, prayer and self-enquiry. This type of yoga is called integral yoga because the idea is that everything is integrated – body, mind and spirit. The central thought in this type of yoga is that the Spirit manifests itself in a process called ‘Involution’, while forgetting its origins. It is the movement opposite to evolution, and is driven towards total manifestation of spirit. The goal of Integral Yoga is to accept the spiritual unity behind every aspect of creation. The student then strives to live in harmony with all members of one universal family. This is accepted as the birth right of every individual. To achieve this, the student focuses on keeping the body in optimum health and strength, having senses under control and a disciplined mind. The mind should be clear and calm and as sharp as a razor. The will should be strong but pliable and the heart filled with unconditional love and peace. The goal is for the life to be filled with Supreme Peace and Joy. Different branches of this discipline are Raja yoga, Japa yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga and Jnana yoga, where the ethical perfection of the mind is primary as this leads to a state of a superconscious mind. Who can do this? Although the poses are challenging, they are not too physically demanding and you should not worry about alignment or flexibility. Students are encouraged to progress at their own pace. If you have time to learn and practice, then this will suit you very well.

Ishta yoga

This type of yoga was developed in South Africa by the teacher Mani Finger. His son subsequently went to the USA and introduced it there. The discipline focuses on opening the energy channels of the body by using postures, meditation, and visualization. Ishta yoga is designed to improve strength and clarity of mind. Deeper spiritual practice integrated with the balancing of energies and nervous system ensures a heart centred approach to daily life. Ishta is designed to bring and see consciousness in everything, and every living being, thus living life to the fullest potential. The discipline is based on the fact that when you study yourself, and then know yourself completely, you will find the path through life that works for you. Through the practice of Ishta, the student will often hear their calling and know the right path to follow. It is an integration of asanas, breath, meditation, and techniques. Who can do this? For anyone wanting a more holistic experience, this is the right type for you. Ishta goes a step further than other types in that it strives to give students a balanced and more integrated understanding of practices and traditions of ancient India.

Iyengar yoga

This type of yoga often makes use of equipment to assist in getting the body into the perfect position. Such things as blocks, straps and incline boards are used. Because of this, it is suitable for all ages and abilities as the equipment is meant to allow precise alignment. Named after B.K.S. Iyengar, this form of yoga places emphasis on precision and detail in every movement and pose. The sequencing is very meticulous and attention is paid at all times, to correct posture in poses. This is not an energetic class so the heart rate will not get up, but it is a physically and mentally challenging type of yoga. It was developed more than 60 years ago, and was designed to promote strength, flexibility and balance. Co-ordinated breathing is stressed along with poses that need precise body positioning. In this discipline, you will move slowly into the required pose and then hold it for a minute or more, rest for a few breaths and then move to another pose. Everything is done in a slow and smooth manner. Because of the use of things like blankets, this is also suitable for elderly and disabled people. Who can do this? Anyone can do this, even elderly, sick, or disabled people because of the use of equipment which aids proper alignment. Even people who are recovering from injuries may benefit. Do not think that it is an easy style! The use of equipment is not designed for ease, but rather to increase the accuracy to perform different poses.

Jivamukti yoga

Most classes have a theme, whether it is Sanskrit chanting, music or references to ancient writings. The direct translation of Jivamukti is ‘liberation while living’. It is a very physical and limit pushing discipline. You will also find that it is an intellectually stimulating style. Founded in 1986 by Sharon Gannon and David Life, this is vigorous and challenging with emphasis on devotion to God, non-violence and music playing a big part. This type of yoga expresses the spiritual and ethical aspects of yoga which may have fallen by the way in other forms. Who can do this? Anyone who wants to explore the more meditational and spiritual side of yoga will find this fulfilling. People with a good sense of curiosity and appreciation for the traditions of yoga will benefit from this. If you prefer not to adhere to the more physical styles of yoga, then this is worth checking out.

Kripalu yoga

Self-empowerment and personal growth are the aims of kripalu yoga and the practice teaches the student to learn more about their inner self. This discipline teaches you three parts, namely how to know, accept and then learn from your body. It is also known as the ‘yoga of consciousness’ because the first section is where you find your how your body works for different poses. After you have discovered that, you then move on to postures which are held for extended times. When those have been accomplished, you move on to meditation. You will then find a spontaneous flow to your movements by letting your body become the teacher. This style is gentle and introspective. Kripalu urges the students to explore any emotional and spiritual blockages they may have. Precise alignment is not the prime focus with this style, and goal orientated striving is not encouraged. Rather, there is a focus on exploring the bodies’ abilities, and developing inner awareness. Who can do this? Anyone who wants to learn more about the inner body, and who is prepared to listen to their own body will find this suitable. As with other forms of yoga, poses, breathing and meditation is all equally important with this discipline. Kripalu teaches that the body is the centre of your being, and therefore the teacher from whom you learn. Once you have learned to accept this, then you will find that your body is your best teacher.

Kundalini yoga

This discipline is made up of constantly moving poses which are invigorating and fluid. The fluidity of the movements is designed to release energy in the body. Just like the energy which is stored in a sleeping serpent, waiting to be awakened, so this style aims to awaken the energy in your body. This is a physically and mentally challenging style and is different from other classes. Repetitive exercises are performed with intense breath work, and sometimes combined with chanting or meditation. The aim of this style is to untap the latent energy within and bring you to a higher level of awareness. The class focuses on using the energy which is stored at the base of the spine, drawing it up and out. The sessions are both passive and aggressive and may be challenging to a beginner. Focus is however placed on doing things to your own level and not trying to keep up with others in the class. The student will learn correct posture based movements and meditation techniques. Who can do this? Anyone seeking more than the ‘normal’ yoga workout, this suits people looking for a more spiritual practice. The emphasis is on more internal studies such as spiritual energy and meditation. Beginners and newbies to yoga may find the poses difficult at first, but focus is on doing only as much as you can.

Power yoga

This discipline is not for the fainthearted! It is also known as ‘yoga with brawn’, it is a discipline which combines strength, stretching and meditative breathing, with poses which resemble a good workout. An offshoot of ashtanga yoga, power yoga is a fitness based style designed to build up internal heat. Such moves as push-ups and headstands, toe touches and side bends form part of the class. While these will have you sweating, the class goes further and asks that you do them at a faster pace than you normally would! There is no pausing between poses as you would find in other classes. Rather, you move flowingly from one pose to the next, making it similar to an intense aerobic workout. It is a sweat producing, muscle building type of yoga. This style builds up internal heat, increases stamina, strength, and flexibility. Sequences are individually designed by teachers, so will vary from class to class, with students synchronising their breathing to the pace of the moves. Who can do this? A certain amount of physical fitness is essential before starting one of these classes. It is not suitable for people with breathing problems such as Asthma as there is no stop between poses. It is very suited to students who want to increase stamina, strength, and flexibility.

Prenatal yoga

This discipline is specifically designed for expectant mothers. It is a tailormade program to help women through all stages of pregnancy. Also suitable for getting back into shape after the birth, this style will keep muscles strong throughout the pregnancy, and then ensure that they return to normal afterwards. Emphasis is placed on supporting the mother-to-be emotionally and physically, emphasising breathing techniques and stamina. Pelvic floor exercises form a great part of these classes, along with core strength. This style prepares the expectant mom mentally for the birth. It is a great way to relax and also to stay fit. Benefits include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Stress reduction
  • Increased strength needed for the birth
  • Muscle strengthening
  • v Increased stamina
  • Focused breathing

A class will typically start with breathing exercises, before moving on to gentle stretching, posture work, cool down and relaxation. Props such as blankets and pillows are often used to provide support for backs and stomachs. Who can do this? Any mom-to-be who has had approval from her health care provider may do these classes. They may be done right up to labour starts, or the mom feels it is the right time to stop. This may also be done after the birth – again with health care provider approval – to strengthen stomach and back muscles and return them to pre-pregnancy conditions.

restorative yoga

This discipline focuses more on relaxation than work. The classes are made up of just four or five poses and props such as pillows and blankets are used as aids to assist in the relaxation technique. Typically the session will be formed of only five or six poses which are held. Props may be uses to allow the student to relax properly. Some people feel that they are not doing much work in this class, and that is the point of this particular style. The slow-moving approach gives people time to feel deeper relaxation. The poses are held for 5 minutes or more each time and may include twists, forward folds and gentle back bends. Props are used so that the student can feel the benefits without the exertion. It is the action of allowing the muscles to relax passively. Restorative yoga is a perfect way to promote relaxation and soothe frayed nerves. Most students find that a good class of restorative yoga is far better than a nap! Who can do this? Anyone can do this! Great for people who have a hard time slowing down after a hard day. Good for people who suffer from Insomnia and anxiety. This is also good for athletes on their recover days.

Sivananda yoga

This discipline is based on five principles of life, namely correct breathing, relaxation, good diet, exercise, and positive thinking. The sessions consist of the same 12 basic moves, or variations of them. They start with the sun salutation and end with the corpse pose. It is a traditional style of yoga which believes that the five aspects make up a good and wholesome lifestyle. It is similar to Integral yoga in that it combines postures, dietary restrictions, scriptura, study and meditation. It focuses on the health and well-being of the student. This discipline believes that the body decreases the chance of disease by cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Classes revolve around frequent relaxation and full yogic breathing. Who can do this? People of all levels can do this style because the pace is very mellow. Not only will you learn breathing exercises but also get to practice many hours of chanting. If you want a form of yoga that focuses on a good stretching routine, then this might not be the class for you as minimal time is spent in this area.

Tantra yoga

This discipline seeks to create a closer bond between couples. They stress connection and awareness between couples, while creating a deeper spiritual bond. This is a very ancient practice which combines energy lock and energy centre so that you build strength, clarity, and happiness into everyday life. The discipline tries to harness the five forces of Shakti, which is the female deity which stands for creativity and change. Once these levels have been attained, it is possible to face the world with more confidence and peacefulness. Tantric yoga focuses on how the many benefits can be achieved through sexual acts. While some people may not be happy with the suggestion of attaining spiritual healing through a sexual act, this is the core of the tantric style of yoga. It is designed to promote awareness and comfort with one’s own body. Who can do this? Anyone who is in a relationship can take part in this. It is designed to strengthen and nurture couples in their feelings towards each other and to the rest of the world.


TriYoga places the emphasis on the trinity of posture, breath and focus. This was first introduced to western culture in 1980 by Kali Ray. Classes will be made up of flowing dancelike sequences which incorporate breathing exercises and meditation. TriYoga unites breath with flowing and sustained postures. The movements are gentle and wavelike, with students choosing to remain at the Basic level or progress to Level 1 and further levels. The basic stage consists of 108 posture sequences. As a student progresses they develop a precise natural alignment, strength, and flexibility. As the student progresses they will be able to endure longer times and have a more rhythmic breath. Continued practice makes the mind and body a perfect instrument for meditation. Who can do this? If you think that because you have tight muscles and joints, you will not be able to do this, think again. This style of yoga gently stretches and strengthens the body. This is also done by very young children and the classes can be modified to the needs of the students.


This discipline focuses on students learning to adapt poses to their own body needs. This style will never attempt to push a student further than they can move. The goals are to warm up and contract muscles before stretching them. It is a highly individualised practise which deals with each student being different. The act of warming up before stretching means that there is less chance of injury happening. This is very often used by people who have recently had surgery. It is a very gentle and healing type of yoga which will be tailored to the individual as they age and grow. Who can do this? Anyone can do this, although it is often uses for people who have suffered injuries or had surgery, because it is so gentle and adaptive to needs which chance over time.

Vinyasa yoga

This is a very athletic type of yoga. It has been adapted from the traditional yoga style in the late 1980’s. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘power yoga’. Called Vinyasa because of the smooth way the poses run together, this form is one of the most well-known and popular styles. The classes do not stick to the same poses so the style largely depends on the teacher. The classes are known for fluid movements, and movement-intense sessions. Often there will be lively music to keep the flow going smoothly from pose to pose. This style focuses on the co-ordination of breath and movement, and is a very physical form. No two classes are the same, and no two teachers are the same. Who can do this? If you hate routine but want a good workout, then this may be suitable for you. It will test your physical limits, while giving you an interesting and different class every time.

Yin yoga

This is also known as ‘taoist yoga’. It is a quiet and meditative style. It is a passive style, rather than aggressive. This means that in poses, the student is meant to relax and let gravity do the work. Yin yoga looks at lengthening the connective tissues. Some people think of this style as yoga for the joints as that is what it focuses on. Although it is classed as ‘soft’ yoga it can be challenging due to the long periods of time for some postures, which can last up to 20 minutes. The classes are designed to help you sit for longer periods of time, and in more meditative positions. The style tries to stretch the tissue around joints such as knees, pelvis, and spine. This type of yoga works on calming and balancing the mind and body. It is quite the opposite to Ashtanga. The practice tries to deepen your tissue elasticity and thus restore length and flexibility. Props are often used so that the body can release into the correct posture while still lengthening the tissues. It has great restorative powers. Who can do this? This style is best for people who have difficulty unwinding after a stressful job. It is not recommended for people who are too flexible as it is possible to overdo some of the poses. It is ideal for people who are not very flexible. It is also recommended for people who have any sort of connective tissue problems.


The amount of different types of yoga can be mind boggling to a beginner. Question about whether you are too stiff to take part, or too old, or even too young may all enter your mind. Yoga is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ practice. There is a discipline which suits every single person, no matter the shape, size, or age of the body. It is important that you do your research, find a style that you think will work, and then join a class, where you can be taught correctly. An 80 year old person will have different yoga needs to a 20 year old, and someone who is very strong will be different to a smaller person. One thing you may be sure of is that you will be able to find a style and discipline that suits your own personal needs, and once you have found it, you will be able to enjoy your yoga sessions to the full!

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

Science has proved that being mindful actually changes the way our brains react to sadness. Mindfulness even supports EQ training.

Another amazing post that I found on relating to how mindfulness changes the way our brains react to sadness. Almost every guide to happiness wether it’s a self-help book or an online checklist will extol the numerous benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Being acutely aware of the present moment and yet remaining detached is hailed as the key to a satisfying and fulfilling life. If you’ve already mastered the art of being mindful and in control of your emotions, you’ve already won more than half the battle and you’re on your way to incredible success. And now, even science has proved that being mindful actually changes the way our brains react to particular emotions, especially sadness. In essence mindfulness changes the way our brains react to sadness.

The Research

In an early study, led by Norman Farb and his colleagues, the participants were asked several questions about their personal traits, such as if they felt foolish, intelligent, trustworthy, responsible and so on, all the while being scanned by an MRI machine. What they found out was that such interrogation activated either the “narrative or analytic” mode of the brain which deals with questions like is it a good or bad thing?, What does this reveal about my personality?, or the “experiential/concrete” mode that grapples with questions like, what is happening in this moment and the next? What am I currently acutely aware of? After training the participants, the researchers began to study how mindful training was related to each of these two modes. The participants were tested twice-once before beginning an MBSR program and again after its completion. The results were startling.

Mindfulness leads to increase in activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex

Those who practiced mindfulness displayed a decrease in the medial prefrontal cortex region of the brain which is associated it with analytical thinking and self-evaluation. Instead there was an increase in activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex, especially the insula region of the brain which is linked to direct, in-the-moment sensory experiences. In other words, being mindful literally stops you from thinking too much and over-reacting. Just as there is a shift of activity in the brain from one region to another, there is an equal shift in thinking. Instead of blaming yourself or others, you learn to concentrate on the present moment and make the most out of it.

They were less likely to be caught up in the sadness than the other group

Farb and his colleagues then played sad and neutral film clips to the participants. Once again, the results were similar. The sad film clips were overall associated with greater medial prefrontal cortex activation and with regions linked to self-appraisal and less activity in the region associated with awareness in the present moment. However, the interesting fact was those who had undergone the mindfulness training course had higher activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex region. In other words, they were less likely to be caught up in the sadness than the other group. Once again, being mindful affords greater self-control and shift of attention to what is really important and not drown in one’s emotions.

How to be Mindful in Your Daily Life

  1. Be mindful the moment you wake up. Sit in silence, relishing the present moment and being grateful for being so gloriously alive. Don’t let your phone or other noises distract you.
  2. Practice for short periods at first. Try 5 minutes at first, then increase it to 10 and 20 and so on.
  3. Use prompts to remind yourself to be mindful. Have a personal cue: be it the morning coffee, or a certain activity, or a reminder on your phone, or even a particular symbol to remind yourself to practice mindfulness throughout the day.

If you can opt for a mindfulness training course, by all means go for it, but even if you can’t, it’s not the end of the world. Incorporate these valuable habits in your daily routine and watch your life change for the better in front of your eyes!

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

Just 6 seconds of mindfulness can make you more productive, focused, creative and happy. Plus a mindfulness practice is the foundation for building EQ.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” -Lao Tzu.

While traveling abroad I became fascinated with Taoist philosophy. There exists a long history of movement and exercise systems which are associated with Taoism. I was drawn towards Tai Chi as a form of exercise which deeply connected with Taoist philosophy and notions.

After returning home I was blessed to find a teacher, Grandmaster Dr Lin Feng-Chao. His teacher was Cheng Man-Ching.

I’ve been practicing now for over 25 years. In recent years I’ve found in conversations that my perceptions, strategies and tools that support me both at work and personally, seem totally foreign to some. I’ve had an advantage with abilities to recognise emotions quickly and get less bothered by the little things. Less distracted, generally happier, less anxious and more present in the moment. When asked how? I’ve said, “Tai Chi”.

Tai Chi trains one to calm the mind on demand and return it to a natural state of happiness. Deepen self-awareness in a way that fosters self-confidence which harness empathy and compassion.

In my journey in diving deeper into the “how question”, I came across the work done at Google on their ‘Search Inside Yourself’ course. I found their research fascinating. Especially the effectiveness and importance of emotional intelligence in both work and personal life. What is mind-blowing is that emotional intelligence is trainable through the practice of mindfulness meditation. This lead me to explore the value of Tai Chi more. I’ve taken my learnings over the years and built an EQ course to support the devs I managed.

Part of that journey was exposing colleagues and students to the benefits of meditation. I wanted to build an app that gave everyone a quick tutorial on how to meditate and then follow a breathing exercise so they could follow their breath. What inspired me was an article I saw posted by Chade-Meng Tan. “Just 6 Seconds of Mindfulness Can Make You More Effective”.

What stood out for me was the following passage.

There are two reasons why taking just one mindful breath is so effective at calming the body and the mind. The physiological reason is that breaths taken mindfully tend to be slow and deep, which stimulates the vagus nerve, activating the parasympathetic nervous system. It lowers stress, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, and calms you down. The psychological reason is that when you put your attention intensely on the breath, you are fully in the present for the duration of the breath. To feel regretful, you need to be in the past; to worry, you need to be in the future. Hence, when you are fully in the present, you are temporarily free from regret and worry. That’s like releasing a heavy burden for the duration of one breath, allowing the body and mind a precious opportunity for rest and recovery.

The ability to think calmly under fire is a hallmark of great leadership. The training and deployment of this skill involves paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. The more you bring this quality of attention to your breath, the more you strengthen the parts of your brain involved with attention and executive control, principally the prefrontal cortex.

Also an interesting article that highlights the benefits of a meditation practice, Corporations’ newest productivity hack: Meditation.

The app was developed for the students you who attended my eq course

So why all the fuss over EQ?

Businesses are experiencing the benefits of improving emotional intelligence in the workplace. Research now points to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with tremendous results. Emotional intelligence has a direct link to your earning potential.

Attention is the basis of all higher cognitive and emotional abilities. Thus the key to emotional intelligence training is ATTENTION. The idea is to create a quality of mind that is clear and calm at the same time. We use mindfulness meditation to build attention so students become more emotionally intelligent.

So what makes someone emotionally intelligent?

Emotional intelligence is not a technical term in psychology. It generally refers to a person’s ability to notice and interpret emotionality in themselves and others. A person capable of looking inside, recognising and labelling their responses to situations. And then acting in a way that is both constructive and respectful of the internal process, shows a strength in emotional intelligence.

Just 6 seconds of mindfulness everyday can over time deeply and effectively enhance your attention. Attention is the foundation to improving your EQ. The Just 6 APP was developed to encourage and develop the students mindfulness practice. I will eventually write the app for iOs and Android. For now it’s a web app that is still very much in development. Your support and feedback will be much appreciated.

Other Apps worth exploring

  1. Calm
  2. Headspace
  3. Oak Meditation app

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Meditation and the Science
  4. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  5. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  6. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  7. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

Explaining mindfulness to children and how brain works can seem a daunting task. Infographic below will make it easier.

I explain this so often to adults so when I came across this article on how to explain it to children I thought I must share. The original post can be found here.

Explaining how mindfulness and the brain works can seem a daunting task, yet it can be one of the best ways to show how mindfulness works for us and how it helps our brain to function properly. If you are in a hurry, you can scroll down to the big infographic. So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness occurs when we pay attention to what is happening in the here and now. We observe our emotions, our thoughts, our surroundings, in an even-minded, nonjudgmental way.

We apply this same focus of attention to situations both good and bad. This is being mindful. Learning to be mindful of what’s happening in the moment helps children make sound decisions rather than be ruled by their emotions. Negative emotions can be tough for anyone to deal with. Fear and anger can hit us unexpectedly and when we do not have a prior plan for dealing with these feelings, we can be thrown off balance and react badly.

When a 4th grader reports that she felt she “was going to die” from test anxiety, she’s telling the truth. The responses of her autonomic nervous system are the same whether she’s taking a math test or sensing actual physical danger. – Mindful Schools

Here’s what science has to say about it. An impulsive reaction, triggered by emotions like fear or anger, rises up from the amygdala and hippocampus—the most ancient parts of our brain. These parts evolved to respond with defensive action to threatening situations. If we can delay this reactivity, the newer pre-frontal cortex of the brain can respond from a place of reflection and thoughtfulness. The PFC (pre-frontal cortex) is associated with maturity, including regulating emotions and behaviors and making wise decisions. Mindfulness practice, as you may have guessed, diminishes the reactivity from the amygdala and strengthens the pre-frontal cortex.1

The growing brain and mindfulness

Author and anger management clinic director Dr. Ronald Potter-Efron explains that the newest parts of our brain—and the last parts to develop as we grow—likely evolved in response to an increased propensity to live in groups. “As we have learned to live together collectively, the human brain has been spurred to grow accordingly.”2 A lot of growth is taking place in the adolescent brain, and this growth is happening at the same time that the brain is reorganizing itself.

“Part of this reorganization process,” says neurobiologist Dr. Arlene Montgomery, “includes the pruning of disused neural connections. This growth and pruning are affected by environmental experiences and reshape the adolescent brain.”3 This is one of the reasons mindfulness in childhood and adolescence can be so effective: the pathways that foster empathy and impulse control are being used and strengthened, which will serve the child throughout his or her life.

Mindfulness and the brain

The amygdala determines emotional responses by classifying sensory input as either pleasurable or threatening. Input seen as threatening is blocked by the amygdala, prompting an immediate reflexive reaction: fight, flight, or freeze.4 The amygadala does not see a difference between perceived threats and actual dangers. It often triggers “false alarms” and potentially problematic reactive behavior. We sometimes freeze in stressful situations, like public speaking or when taking a test.

Though neither of these activities are life-threatening, we disconnect from rational thinking and become impulsive and reactive. Even if we have conflict resolution skills stored in memory, we might not be able to access them due to the stress response, as the amygdala hinders access to memory recall and storage. When we have the time to consciously process sensory input, we allow the prefrontal cortex to analyze the information. Instead of an immediate, impulsive reaction, we get to choose the best response instead.


Practicing mindfulness calms the amygdala and reconnects us to our calm, clear prefrontal cortex, so that we can make thoughtful choices for how to respond. Mindfulness helps us regain access to our executive functions: the intention to pay attention, emotional regulation, body regulation, empathy, self-calm, and communications skills—even when under stress arousal. Mindful thinking happens when the prefrontal cortex can process the information.

Following your breath or counting to ten when you’re angry or sad gives time for the amygdala to allow the information to flow to the prefrontal cortex to be properly analyzed. Mindful Schools reports that research has found improvements in anxiety, cognitive functioning and self regulation among children trained in mindfulness, suggesting that the corresponding parts of the brain may be changing as well. A basic mindfulness exercise is to teach children to focus on breathing. Being able to control their breathing can help them become less reactive when stressed.

Focused breathing helps calm the body by slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and improving focus. Controlled breathing can override the fight, flight, or freeze response set off by the amygdala, and instead enable mindful behavior. My two-year-old son has learned to control his breath and to focus on his breath when he is frustrated—to my great astonishment. He is often able to calm himself when something doesn’t go his way and he gets agitated. He even reminds me to calm down when I’m anxious. He says “Daddy” and does a long inhale and a longer exhale. It’s pretty amazing. I started teaching him mindfulness with this simple breath exercise.

How to explain mindfulness and the brain to children

The amygdala – the jumpy superhero

The amygdala is like the brain’s super hero, protecting us from threats. It helps us to react quickly when there is danger. Sometimes it’s good to react—when there’s a real physical threat, like when you see a football coming your way. The amygdala simply decides that there’s not enough time to think about it and makes us react quickly: you move your head away from the path of the football. In this way, the amygdala can decide whether we get to think about the information our body gathers through our senses or not. But there’s a problem.

The amygdala can’t see a difference between real danger and something stressful. You could say it’s jumpy and that it makes mistakes. When we’re angry, sad, or stressed the amygdala thinks there’s real imminent danger. We then simply react without thinking. We might say or do something we regret immediately. We might even start a fight or just freeze when we’re offended, or supposed to take test, or speak in front of the class. Fear and stress shuts down our thinking in this way.

The prefrontal cortex – the smart one

The part of our brain that helps us make good choices is called the prefrontal cortex, or PFC. You could call it the smart one, as it helps you make smart choices and decides what is stored in your memory. To make good choices, the PFC needs to get the information our body gathers through the senses—sights, sounds, smells, and movements. The questions is: will the amygdala allow the PFC to analyse the information early enough? Remember: the amygdala, the jumpy superhero, often times hinders the information from going to the prefrontal cortex and we make rash choices.

This can happen when we’re angry, sad, negative, stressed, or anxious. What we want to do is to help the jumpy superhero calm down. But how? Here’s the trick. When we’re calm, the amygdala is calm and sensory information flows to the prefrontal cortex and we can make better choices. Even our memory improves when we’re calm and happy. We’re able to remember better and make new, lasting memories. So, how do we calm down so that the PFC, the smart one, has time to get and analyze all the information for us so that we make better choices?

Mindfulness practice to the rescue

Mindfulness helps us to calm down, and this, in turn, calms the amygdala so that it allows the information flow to the prefrontal cortex—that part of our brains that helps us make good choices. When we’re calm, we can more easily be mindful and make good choices. Scientists have figured out that the prefrontal cortex is more activated following mindfulness training and our high-level functions like the intention to pay attention, emotional regulation, body regulation, our communication skills, empathy, and our ability to calm and self-soothe are more available to us. Pretty cool, right? The more we practice mindfulness the more we’ll experience calm moments, even if we weren’t trying to be mindful.

How to do it?

When you feel overwhelmed, stop for a moment, take a few deep breaths and exhale slowly. Name the emotion you are experiencing. Focus on your breath for five breaths. See where you can feel your breath most easily—your stomach, your chest, or your nose. Control your breathing for a short while. Do deep belly breathing for five breaths.

Put your hands on your belly and feel how it expands as you breathe in. Multiple short mindful moments per day trains your brain to become more mindful even when you don’t try to be mindful. In other words, the more you train, the easier it will be to be mindful and self-soothe when you’re actually in a stressful situation.

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

Written by Carolyn Schatz, Former Editor, Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Thought I should share.

When I’m stressed, I listen to a 20-minute mindfulness meditation tape. It always helps me feel calmer and more relaxed. Many meditative practices can do this. But mindfulness meditation is getting a lot of attention because it seems to help with so many physical and psychological problems—like high blood pressure, chronic pain, psoriasis, sleep trouble, anxiety, and depression. It’s also been shown to boost immune function and stop binge eating. No one knows for sure what’s behind these benefits, but physical changes in the brain probably play a role.

Mindfulness meditation is a mental discipline. You start by focusing your attention on your breath, a sensation in the body, or a chosen word or phrase. You note the thoughts, emotions, and background sounds that arise from moment to moment, observing them without analyzing them or making judgments about what’s going on around you. If you drift into thoughts about the past or concerns about the future, you bring your attention back to the present, for example, by refocusing on your breathing. It takes practice.

A new study, published in the May 2011 issue of Neuroimage, suggests that one effect of all this focusing and refocusing is increased brain connectivity. Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles compared the brain activity of volunteers who had finished eight weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training with that of volunteers who did not do such training. Functional MRI scans showed stronger connections in several regions of the meditators’ brains—especially those associated with attention and auditory and visual processing. Unfortunately, the study didn’t scan the volunteers’ brains before mindfulness training, so no one can say for sure that mindfulness training was responsible for the differences.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers used MRI scans to document before and after changes in the brain’s gray matter—the “processing” neurons—associated with mindfulness meditation. The density of gray matter increased in regions governing such distinctly different activities as memory, self-awareness, and compassion, and decreased in the amygdala—the part of the brain associated with fear and stress. We covered this intriguing research in the April issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

At the moment, scientists can only speculate about the relationship between these brain changes and the health benefits associated with mindfulness meditation. But the research adds to growing evidence that meditative practices can alter the body at a fundamental level—even, it turns out, at the level of our genes. Meditation elicits the “relaxation response,” a state of deep relaxation first described more than 35 years ago by mind-body pioneer Dr. Herbert Benson, currently emeritus director of the Benson-Henry Institute of Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Since then, Benson and his colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have discovered that relaxation techniques (including meditation and yoga) turn certain sets of genes on and off in people who practice them regularly. Benson, who is the medical editor of Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress (a Special Health Report from Harvard Health Publications, which also publishes Harvard Women’s Health Watch), says these genes are involved with controlling “how the body handles free radicals, inflammation processes, and cell death.” You can read about the gene research here.

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

Travel is the new meditation. I think a shift in scenery does bring a newness to the present moment. Definitely makes me want to travel more 🙂

This definitely makes me want to travel more. Or just get out of the city and head somewhere local. A shift in scenery does bring a newness to the present moment. Thought this was a great post. After eight years of being a wandering gypsy, I’ve made a discovery… Travel is the new meditation. Travel breeds mindfulness, anchoring us in the ‘present moment’. Travel is good for the mind and soul, and this might just be why it feels so darn fantastic.

As hundreds of articles and zillions of Yoga classes are already teaching us, ‘the present moment’ is what it’s all about. Buddhists have spent centuries learning how to remain there, as have rishis and yogis, and now westerners have joined the party.

We are slowly becoming aware of how powerful this whole ‘being in the moment’ really is: the place of whole awareness, devoid of unnecessary thought. The present moment is the divine space where we become connected with what is right in front of us, and right within us, without any worries concerning the past, and without any future imaginings.

Personally, remaining present links directly to a clear and calm mind. In those rare, fleeting moments when I can actually find complete presence, without past worries or future anxieties, I am empowered by feelings of oneness, gratitude, boosted intuition, acceptance, peace, and best of all, I feel that I am actually in control of that crazy monkey mind, which often becomes a little too crazy and starts to take control of me.

The benefits are clear. But how does this link to travel? I began questioning why I felt so much more fulfilled, more energetic, more myself when I was travelling, yet not so much at home when working the daily grind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sad sack when I’m on my home turf. There’s beauty and gratitude and happiness scattered everywhere. However, despite those moments of happiness at home, for me there always seemed to be an overwhelming need to count down to the next trip.

Could this be because when I’m travelling I am more present? Do I feel more myself because this increased sense of presence connects me more to who I am? I vote yes. Here’s why travel captures our presence, thus can be classed as our new form of meditation:

1. WE MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT. When we are travelling there is the sense that there is always an expiration date to what we are experiencing. This motivates us to take in every moment with a deeper sense of gratitude and mindfulness. We make the effort to see every sunrise or sunset. We taste our food, because alas, this may be the last mango we eat for months. Making the most of each moment, means that we are in the moment. Being in the moment makes it a meditation.

2. WE ARE GUIDED INTO THE PRESENT BY OUR SENSES. When we first visit a new place, we are often so amazed by everything that we see, that it’s difficult not to be in the present moment. Unlike home, where we do the same commute that leads our head so far out of the present that we can arrive home and we don’t even remember driving. When we are travelling, we are lured into noticing. The views, the sounds, the smells, they take our breath away and entice that curiosity within us. Curiosity in the people that we are meeting, the history that we are learning, or the new music or languages that we are hearing allow us to savour every moment, capturing our presence.

3. THERE’S LESS PLUG IN TIME. Although Internet connections are now accessible pretty much anywhere, I still find that travel leads you away from ‘plug in time’ a little more. Less TV, less phone calls, less accessible Internet connection 247. If meditation aims to connect us to ourselves, then our connection to technology is doing the opposite. Less plug in time, more ‘connect with self’ time.

4. THERE’S NO TIME FOR DWELLING ON THE PAST. If you are feeling sad, you’re living in the past. If you’re feeling anxious, you’re living in the future. This is one of the oldest explanations as to why mindfulness and meditating on the present is good for us. Luckily for us, travel kind of eradicates past and future because as we’ve mentioned, the present is just so amazing it’s hard to take our mind off it. Yes, there may be the odd long bus journey or transit time, but even these moments are sprinkled with that lovely feeling of excitement. The life of a traveller is an adventurous one, packed with activities, new people, new life lessons, glorious sites, and experiences that fill us with awe. Where in the busy life of a traveller do we have time to feel sad or regretful about anything that may have happened in our past? Present moment time = meditation time.

5. WE CONNECT TO NATURE. What is travel without sightseeing? And what is sightseeing without viewing natural phenomena? Travel connects us to nature and the world around us. As we wander around drinking in sights of rolling hills, of animals frolicking in the grass, of the sunrays catching the flower buds, or the perfect jungle pathway to break out our yoga pose, we are connecting, noticing, meditating. Yes, these meditations can be done at home, but how often do we break the daily grind to do them? Travel ignites a light in us that inspires us to truly see, and to truly connect.

So what are you waiting for? Make your next trip your meditation. Retreats are a great way to travel and to experience something out of the ordinary. You know, just in case you needed another excuse to go ahead and book that ticket. Do it. Your mind and soul will thank you.

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

A mindfulness meditation practice improves Emotional Intelligence. Train your mindfulness with Pokemon Go. EQ is trainable in Adults so join in on the game.

Michael Taft Author of The Mindful Geek, mindfulness coach, neuroscience junkie wrote this insightful piece in practicing mindfulness with Pokemon Go.

I have to admit it: Pokémon Go is one of the funnest games I’ve played in a long time. I’m old enough to have missed the Pokémon phenomenon when it first came around, but it’s easy to see why the game is taking the world by storm. (It’s been downloaded by more than 30 million people in the last two weeks.) Catching pokémon is not only fun, it’s community-oriented, it gets people out of the house, and it’s non-zero-sum. Because of that last feature, the game tends to build bonds rather than break them. For example, the place where I live with my partner is in easy range of three (three!) pokestops, so we can both catch the same pokémon! No scarcity models for us!

If you haven’t played the game yet, you may at least have seen crowds of people—not all children—gathered around a statue, fountain, or some other landmark, staring into their phones. Or ravening mobs stampeding after invisible objects in Central Park. Such scenes might lead you to believe that Pokémon Go is all about checking out of the real world and disappearing into a cloud of fantasy. But, as a meditation teacher and mindfulness coach, I’ve found that you can both enjoy the game and turn it into a system to generate awareness and presence. Here’s how:

Pay Attention

Mindfulness meditation teaches you to pay attention to the present moment, and so does Pokémon Go. When you are about to cross the street for example, taking a moment to check in with your surroundings, the presence of onrushing 18-wheelers, open sewer holes, or similar dangers can enhance your health and wellbeing. Keep checking the map in the app against the actual streets, buildings, parks, bodies of water, and so on around you. And it’s awesome for teaching you all the art objects—many of which you may never have seen before—in your neighborhood, because lots of them are pokéstops.

Take a Moment to Breathe

It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of the game that you lose all awareness of your body in the present. Pokémon Go does, but yet, offer you several excellent opportunities to take a pause and breathe. Whenever you switch screens, use this as a “time-out” to breathe and feel your body sensations. The game will wait until you take the next onscreen action. Also, because it gets you outside and walking, there are infinite chances to sit under trees, talk with your neighbors, or just enjoy some nature—all good times to check in with your breathing.

Feel Your Emotions

Pokémon Go is good at charging you with emotional ups, downs, and highwire excitment. That kind of emotional intensity is fabulous for mindfulness practice, if you take the time to check in with your feelings. For example, when you are about to attempt to catch a rare, valuable, and high-CP critter, take advantage of the pause before you toss your first pokéball. Feel the tension in your belly — is that anxiety or excitement? Notice the sensations of desire and fear that are at the emotional core of this moment. And if you lose a gym battle, pause to feel the sensations of disappointment and sorrow, before moving on. Win something big? Feel those awesome feelings as clearly as you can.

These hints should get you going, but don’t stop there. I’ve found that there are dozens of ways to use the game to not only have a blast, but also to bake mindfulness and presence into every moment. Give it a shot and thanks for reading. I have to take off now — there’s a Flareon in my house I want to get!

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’

Emotional intelligence as a leadership predictor. Emotional Intelligence is trainable, even in adults. Learn EQ with a mindfulness meditation course. EQ is twice as important as IQ plus you earn a higher salary.

Emotional Intelligence as a Leadership Predictor was a great post from Rita Balian Allen Executive Coach and Career Development Consultant Everyone is familiar with the term ‘intelligence quotient’ or IQ as a measure of intelligence. However, is it the best predictor of success especially as a leader? There is another level of intelligence that is viewed equally, if not more importantly, as a measure of potential leadership success and ultimately organisational performance…and that is emotional intelligence or EQ.

Emotional intelligence is our ability to identify and manage our own emotions as well as recognise that of others and groups. It requires effective communication between the rational and emotive centres of our brain – it represents the path between feeling and reason. The brain science surrounding EQ is quite powerful and compelling. As reported by Daniel Goleman in his book, “Primal Leadership, Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence”, the four skills that together make up Emotional Intelligence include; self awareness and self management, which are about personal competence; and social awareness and relationship management, which are about social competence. Goleman states “Gifted leadership occurs where heart and head – feeling and thought – meet.” Studies have found:

  • EQ is a required competency for effective leaders
  • EQ is the #1 predictor of professional success & personal excellence
  • EQ affects organisational profitability and performance

Our perceptions can differ from person to person and these perceptions influence our thoughts as well as impact our decisions. How aware are we of what we see, think and feel? Do we practice empathy to understand what others see, think and feel therefore identifying similarities as well as differences? Not only understanding but embracing these differences. Ultimately, how well do we see and understand the impact of our thoughts on others and take into consideration others thoughts and needs?

We all have beliefs, biases and assumptions that can interfere with our rational thinking at times and cause us to overreact to situations. How well do we know what they are and are we able to contain or manage them appropriately? In order to manage our emotions effectively, we have to identify them, be able to assess them accurately, understand the root cause, and ultimately control them appropriately.

Knowing what the triggers are that drive our emotions as well as understanding triggers of those around us can truly heighten our ability to communicate more effectively. Conflict is inevitable and actually a positive because it usually leads to progress when handled well. Being able to read the people dynamics, assess the needs involved and manage the situation effectively requires high EQ levels.

“A leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He/she has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control. He/she must be able to withstand the heat, handle setbacks and when those lucky moments arise, enjoy success with equal part of joy and humility. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.” ~Jack Welch, Former Chairman of General Electric speaking to WSJ Leadership begins and ends with inner strength requiring the ability to understand ourselves very well while consistently learning, growing and developing.

In addition to enhancing self awareness, strong leaders are adaptable to their surroundings, transparent, exhibit positive energy and practice emotional self-control. Effective leaders are empathetic, service-oriented and organizationally aware of their surroundings, reading people and cues well. Lastly, they are relationship builders, inspiring others, influencing effectively, coaches, people developers, team collaborators and able to manage conflict as well as change.

All of these are dimensions of emotional intelligence. There are a number of compelling findings included in Goleman’s book. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the three most significant causes of career derailment for executives involve deficits in emotional competence:

  1. Difficulty handling change
  2. Inability to work well in a team; and
  3. Poor interpersonal relations.

According to Tony Simons, Harvard Business Review, the more associates feel trust in their bosses, an emotional response, the higher the profits for the organization. In one study, a 18 point improvement on a survey of employees’ perceptions of how much managers earned their confidence increased profitability by 2.5%.

That increase in profitability meant a quarter million dollar profit increase per business unit per year. The business case is strong for building emotionally intelligent leaders for positive impact on profitability and performance. Leaders are life-long learners always looking to further develop their knowledge and skills. In fact, there are a number of assessments that help us to determine our level of emotional intelligence allowing us to identify elements of strength as well as areas for improvement including the highly regarded BAR-ON EQ-i self assessment and 360 tool.

There are also several resources available on this topic including the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. Developing our EQ will be an on-going effort requiring us to push out of our comfort zone. Here are some tips to help build our EQ as we continue to build our leadership capabilities:

  • Learn what your triggers are and how they impact your emotions
  • Ask for feedback from others often and openly
  • Be an active listener, step back and look at things objectively
  • Practice deep breathing, relax body, keep a clear mind
  • Focus on other people’s perspectives and show interest in others
  • Take time to learn the norms of the organisational culture
  • Carefully read the dynamics of each situation, the people and your surroundings
  • Nurture relationships; acknowledge others’ needs and feelings
  • Manage expectations appropriately
  • Welcome the difficult conversations and give direct, constructive feedback

Building emotional intelligence is not only a strong predictor of effective leadership but can contribute to greater productivity, performance and ultimately profitability for all. What level of EQ do you and your leaders possess? Invest in developing your staff and your leadership potential at all levels of your organization. Remember, individuals do not have to be in a leadership role to be a leader. Unleash leadership skills in all!

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. What is EQ?
  2. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  3. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  4. Meditation and the Science
  5. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  6. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  7. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  8. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’