Mindfulness in the military: Practicing presence

Choice, Presence
Practicing presence develops our capacity to give our attention rather than have it taken, and cultivating presence produces practical results.

The following passage is from the February 15, 2010 edition of Penn News. The article uses “mindfulness” for much of what we mean by “presence.”

A University of Pennsylvania-led study in which training was provided to a high-stress U.S. military group preparing for deployment to Iraq has demonstrated a positive link between mindfulness training, or MT, and improvements in mood and working memory. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware and attentive of the present moment without emotional reactivity or volatility.

The study found that the more time participants spent engaging in daily mindfulness exercises, the better their mood, working memory (the cognitive term for complex thought), problem solving, and cognitive control of emotions. The study also suggested that sufficient mindfulness training may protect against functional impairments associated with high-stress challenges that require a tremendous amount of cognitive control, self-awareness, situational awareness, and emotional regulation—something leaders in all complex organizations face.

Presence is not a “soft skill”—it is a hard business asset and worthy of practice. Everyone who relies on your judgment benefits when you strengthen your presence.