Interest in mindfulness has burgeoned in the past twenty years and today mindfulness is found not only in the meditation hall, classroom, and hospital, but in the courtroom and boardroom. Executives in high stress environments along with lawyers, physicians, police officers, and members of the military are learning mindfulness exercises as tools to enhance performance and facilitate greater wellbeing as society grapples with the implications of a rapidly changing world.

We are living at a time of great change and uncertainty where effective leadership is needed more than ever. While change and uncertainty are inherent in the lives we live, it has, for a long time, been easier for those living in highly developed countries to forget these underlying truths and replace them with an illusory sense of stability and predictability. But with globalization’s reverberations sending tremors into local communities, the larger realities of life’s complexities and challenges are imposing themselves in a more formidable manner. While people tend to react to this scenario by experiencing discomfort, even angst, the ripeness of the reality offers the opportunity to see more clearly what is happening. It helps us sustain attention for greater lengths of time, and make decisions that are more directly related to making a meaningful difference in the lives of a great many—in business, education, medicine, and law.

Leaders are looking to mindfulness as a way of cultivating a set of skills to help them operate at the top of their game in the increasingly stressful and distracting environments in which they work. For many, mindfulness is a new concept that offers a stimulating and exciting change from more staid approaches to professional development. For those with a background in meditation, mindfulness meditation (one form of mindfulness practice) offers a simple, yet elegant method for finding balance amid the hustle and bustle of a hectic workday. And with neuroscience research finding that practicing mindfulness is associated with changes to the structure and function of the brain—which can translate into long term benefits—even the skeptics are taking note and participating in mindfulness workshops and retreats.