1. Mindfulness meditation - What is it?

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

Mindfulness is one of the key techniques used for developing emotional intelligence and EQ, and it is advocated as such, by Daniel Goleman.

Be watchful of everything that is happening right nowMindfulness meditation helps people to find greater peace and calm and to reduce anxiety, stress and tension.

It can thus be an aid in emotional self-management which is the fifth emotional intelligence competency on the Genos emotional intelligence model, and the second of the four main areas of emotional intelligence detailed by Daniel Goleman.

Mindfulness meditation has also been found to boost the immune system and produce positive changes in the brain.

Being mindful when eating can even help in producing weight loss. It has a lot going for it!

Emotional intelligence: What is meditation?

The basic technique of meditation is to train yourself to focus over time on a single object.

Once you've chosen your object and focused on it, if you drift away or become distracted by something else, you gently return to the point of your focus.

The aim is to keep doing this over and over again.

As you repeatedly do this the mind can calm down and settle.

This is meditation.

Want to learn how to meditate? Our professionally produced recordings "Happy not hassled" explain how to meditate, what to do if you think you can't and how to manage your emotions through meditation, and they include four guided meditations of different lengths and types so you can practise in the comfort of your own home.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

Emotional intelligence: What posture do I need?

Meditation can be done while sitting, standing, walking or lying. You do not have to sit cross-legged on the floor.

What is important is for you to choose a posture that helps you to be alert and not sleepy, but which is also comfortable, so your body does not distract you too much.

For example, sit in a straight chair with your spine and head erect, feet flat on the floor, hands held loosely in your lap, and your eyes gently closed.

Emotional intelligence: Is meditation just a relaxation technique?

 It is possible to become confused between relaxation techniques and meditation techniques. However, both can help you develop your emotional intelligence and manage your emotions but in different ways.

Meditation trains your mind to find a healthy and restful state to be in throughout every day and across the challenges you face in life.

In addition you learn what your mind is doing, when it is restless and when it is angry, upset or distracted.

You also learn how to refocus and calm it.

  • Over time it becomes easier and easier to stay calm and focused. This in itself is relaxing and energising.
  • It can help you get into the habit of greeting stressful situations with greater calm and leaving them with less tension.
  • Its benefits accumulate over the long term.

In contrast relaxation distracts your mind, so it can relax temporarily, e.g. by using music or visual imagery. The mind takes a break from the worries of the world for the duration of the exercise so you come out of it feeling more relaxed.

However, it doesn't necessarily train your mind outside that time to respond differently, whereas meditation does.

Emotional intelligence: What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is one of many types of meditation. The main meditation object is focusing on the sensations that occur in the present moment. Thus, I may notice sounds, smells, tastes, and so on. These will vary according to the context I am in and the activity I am engaged in.

When you practise mindfulness meditation you are developing high levels of self-awareness that you can take to any situation or task. Self-awareness is a key emotional intelligence competency and is dimension one on the Genos emotional intelligence model.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is the person attributed with bringing mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine in the USA. He defines mindfulness meditation as a way of "paying attention 100%, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally".

This means that the focus of your mindfulness meditation is whatever is happening right here, right now in the present moment.

Research by Dr Richard Davidson has found positive changes in the brain after only 8 weeks of mindfulness practice.

Want to practice meditation? You can do it now using our professional recordings "Happy not hassled". There are four guided meditations of different lengths and types for you and instructions on how to meditate.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

Emotional intelligence: Mindful eating

One of my favourite mindfulness meditation exercises is an eating meditation. In this meditation I pay full attention to what is happening whilst I am eating slowly. I am not commenting on what is happening I am simply noticing and observing.

  • I may notice what the food looks like on my plate, fork or spoon.
  • I may notice the texture, shape, size, smell and colour of it.
  • I may notice the action of my hand and arm as I put food on my fork and lift it to my mouth.
  • I may notice the food in my mouth, when saliva arrives, what my tongue does, and so on.

If you'd like to do a mindful eating meditation now, watch this video.

In mindfulness meditation I am simply watching everything that happens, as if it is in slow motion. In other words, I am being "mindful" of what is going on. I am not being critical of what happens, I'm simply noticing it.

What does mindfulness have to do with emotional intelligence?

If you want to develop emotional intelligence you also need to develop your self-awareness. Meditation helps you do exactly that.

Being emotionally intelligent requires you to notice what is happening with your emotions. You need to be able to notice when an emotion arises and when it fades away. You also need to be able to notice the kind of thoughts that trigger or calm your emotions.

These skills of self-awareness can be developed through the practice of mindfulness meditation and other types of meditation. Emotional self-awareness is a foundation skill of emotional intelligence, and thus your emotional intelligence can be developed too.

Specific emotions may also be helped with mindfulness meditation. For example, emotions such as anxiety or worry may occur when you are focusing on a negative future, on what may happen next, or on what you think may go wrong. Mindfulness meditation brings you into the present moment, and thus it can help you reduce emotions such as anticipatory anxiety, anger and regret.

Managing your emotions is a key emotional intelligence competency and thus mindfulness meditation is very relevant to this.

Similarly, emotions such as regret, bitterness or anger can arise when you focus on events that have occurred in the past or on things people have said or done to you. Again, by bringing you into the present moment you can let go of the past and the accompanying emotions. That's being emotionally intelligent!

Emotional intelligence: Being mindful on a daily basis?

Outside an actual mindfulness meditation exercise it is possible to practise being mindful in daily life. For example, you can pay attention to the sensations involved when you do the dishes, pick up a telephone, walk to the car, speak in a meeting, disagree with your stakeholder, or talk to your staff.

Mindfulness is not about sitting on a cushion. Being mindful can become a way of life. It takes practice.

Learn how to meditate now. Our professional recordings "Happy not hassled" will guide you through four different meditations and give you instructions on how to meditate and how to use meditation to manage your emotions.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

3. Loving-kindness guided meditation script

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, and long-time meditation practitioner and author of "Happy not hassled".

Emotional intelligence involves being able to manage your own emotions.

Part of being able to do this includes the ability to develop positive emotions in yourself.

A meditation called loving-kindness meditation has been scientifically proven to help with this.

When you develop positive emotions you are less likely to be buffeted by negative emotions such as frustration, anxiety or anger.

Instead, you are more likely to feel contentment, be creative and stay calm.

If people practise this loving-kindness meditation, (also known as metta meditation), regularly, it can help them to stay positive towards themselves and others.

It can also help to keep people calm in difficult situations and reduce irritation and anger, which is all part of developing emotional intelligence.

I have had a regular meditation practice for 29 yrs and loving-kindness is my main practice. Metta meditation has improved my emotional well-being enormously. I have used it to dissolve anger and bitterness from the past, for developing my emotional intelligence and for overcoming panic attacks. I speak from experience.

Often it is easier to practise loving-kindness meditation, at least initially, while someone experienced in the meditation guides you. In this way you are not focused on a script and can sink into the feelings instead. There are no worries about timing or doing it right, it is all there for you to follow. A warm, kind voice can also help to soothe and settle. 

I have recorded a loving-kindness meditation for you. It is available on a set of MP3s along with three other guided meditations and explanations of how to use the meditations. I recommend you start with this.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

Loving-kindness: A guided meditation script

Although we often use words when we are learning loving-kindness meditation, the words are only secondary props. The focus of the meditation is on a feeling, a feeling of loving-kindness. Over time the words can fade and you simply be left with the feeling. That is the aim. 

1. Sit quietly and comfortably.

Sit in a comfortable way but without being in a sleepy position.

For example, sit with your back straight, head up, feet on the floor and your arms gently in your lap.

Simply sit and notice yourself in sitting.

Breathe naturally.

Watch your breath going in and your breath going out. Keep focusing on your breathing for a while.

2. Place your attention on the area around your heart.

Place your attention on the area in the middle of your chest, around your heart.

Repeat to yourself gently and softly, feeling the resonance of the words: "Love, love, love, may my heart be filled with love..."

As you say this, if you like, bring to mind something that you feel caring and loving towards.

It may be an image of a soft, lovable dog, or the serene look on someone's face, or a baby, or the feeling of the soft fur as you stroke a kitten ...

This image is simply to help you kick-start the feelings.

If a feeling of loving-kindness arises without the need of these images there is no need for the images.

3. Experience feeling love through your whole body.

Experience this feeling of warmth and love through your whole body.

Feel the sense of caring, healing and soothing. Let it wash over you and through you while you gently repeat silently to yourself:

  • May I be well, healthy and strong.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I abide in peace.

Sometimes people find this stage difficult to do. It may be helpful to spend some days or weeks simply cultivating loving-kindness for yourself. There is no need to rush on. The number of people you send the feeling of loving-kindness to is not what is important, it is developing the quality of the feeling that matters.

4. Bring into your mind someone you like a lot and respect.

Bring into your mind someone you like a lot and respect.

Send them these feelings of warmth and caring, as you wish them well:

  • May you be well.
  • May you be happy.
  • May you abide in peace.

If you have a feeling of loving-kindness you may not need the words.

If the words are too many for you, simply saying, "May you be happy" is also fine.

5. Bring to mind someone else you like and respect.

Do this with someone else who is equally important, that you like and respect. Choose someone that you find it very easy to spread loving-kindness to.

Send them these feelings of warmth and caring, as you wish them well:

May you be well.

May you be happy.

May you abide in peace.

A full recording of a 30 minute loving-kindness meditation is on my MP3s "Happy not hassled". Let my voice ease you into loving-kindness.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

6. Bring to mind someone you feel neutral about.

Do this with someone you barely know and feel neutral about. This may be someone you have seen in the street, who you see on the bus, or pass in the corridor at work.

Send them these feelings of warmth and caring, as you wish them well:

  • May you be well.
  • May you be happy.
  • May you abide in peace.

Sometimes people find the feelings of loving-kindness weaken. If this happens you may always return to an earlier stage and rekindle the warmth and loving-kindness. There is no need to rush on. It is developing the quality of the feeling that matters.

7. Bring to mind someone you got irritated with recently.

Do this with someone you got irritated/upset with today or this week. Chose someone with whom you have got mildly irritated, someone who "got up your nose". It may have been a slow driver, or someone at work. This is not the time to go to someone who has been very hurtful towards you.

Send them these feelings of warmth and caring, as you wish them well:

  • May you be well.
  • May you be happy.
  • May you abide in peace.

8. If you wish, bring to mind someone who's hurt you.

If you wish, do this with someone who has hurt you in the past. 

You may not want to do this early in your practice of loving-kindness but you may work towards including someone you carry bitterness, hatred or resentment towards.

You are not condoning or approving of what they have done. You are simply allowing yourself to let the pain and anger you carry towards them to go, as the pain and anger hurts you more than anyone else. 

Send them these feelings of warmth and caring, as you wish them well:

  • May you be well.
  • May you be happy.
  • May you abide in peace.

9. Radiate the warmth and love to the people around you.

Send the loving-kindness to everyone in your suburb, in your city, in the nation, in the world:

  • May you all be well,
  • May you all be happy,
  • May you all abide in peace,

10. Bring your attention back to yourself.

Focus once again on yourself, so the feeling of loving-kindness fills your whole being; breathing in peacefully, breathing out peacefully; at peace with yourself and the world.

Then slowly let the feelings of loving-kindness ease and return once again to focusing on just your breathing.

Then return to once again noticing yourself sitting.

Then slowly open your eyes and return to the room.

NB: This loving-kindness meditation is based on a very long Buddhist tradition spanning over 2500 years. It has been adapted from teachings I have received from numerous meditation teachers and particularly a Buddhist monk called Ajahn Jagaro. My deep thanks.

Emotional intelligence: How calm and kind are you?

To help you develop your skills in loving-kindness meditation I have made a recording of a 30 minute loving-kindness meditation on my MP3s "Happy not hassled". Let my voice ease you into loving-kindness. It is often easier to learn it with guidance, than when you are trying to guide yourself, you have enough to do already!

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

May you be well and happy.


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