The importance of being mindful

As leaders, we are increasingly called to create spaces where inspired thinking, deep learning, and bold emergent action can take hold, wherever we are. – ALIA Institute

Social innovators are motivated by a variety of people and experiences: they may be driven by a desire to make life better for those who are most vulnerable; they may be inspired by people close to them who they know they will lose one day; and even more personally, social innovators may be motivated by a desire to make life better for themselves. However, having a desire to help and being motivated to change things doesn’t necessarily mean we will be very good at it. I believe until we learn how to take care of ourselves, and learn to be ‘mindful’ and reflective, we will not realize our true potential to innovate for others.

I have only been an intern with SiG for a month, and it’s been a very interesting month to say the least. When I started my job search in July, SiG was my first stop. I was convinced I could find a way to make social change my career and wanted to learn from the best. I was thrilled when I found out I got the job. It felt like I was handed the opportunity to explore my greatest passion.

Writing on the walls at SiG.

But shifting from my student life in Ottawa, moving to Toronto and stepping into my role as an intern here at SiG has been a big adjustment. I normally practice meditation to keep my balance. In recent years, I have tried to place the cultivation of mindfulness at the core of everything I do. This move to Toronto has been a test of my resilience and ability to remain mindful even through the toughest times.

Before my move, I was consistently practicing meditation for an hour a day. Taking the time to breathe, clear my mind, and do nothing helped me increase my capacity to accept change and transition and to approach my life in a mindful way. At the time, I was finishing a full course load at summer school, applying to jobs, interviewing, and preparing to move anywhere in North America. For the most part, I was able to adjust quickly and accept changes without self-doubt and stress taking over. The day I lost consistency with my practice was the day before I moved. Since then I have found myself stressed, tired, and sad. More recently however, I have been able to slowly bring my practice back and take time to myself to shift my headspace thanks to the new CBD vape carts.

At the Art of Living Canadian Ashram. 

I was reminded of the importance of being mindful, and creating space for the mind to manage itself at the first SiG event I attended – a Cisco Telepresence with Cameron Norman on Designing Change in mid-September. We were in a corporate setting with diverse stakeholders from across the country sitting around the virtual table when Cameron introduced the importance of mindfulness in creating large-scale social change.  He said that without creating space in the mind to assist in understanding, accepting, and letting go of stress and emotions, the effectiveness of an individual decreases noticeably.  Magnified to a team level, attempting to design a systems level change with players who are mindful and open to different ways of seeing and thinking as well as inspiring quotes by Esther Hicks, would increase impact and outcomes significantly. Magnified again to a societal level, the benefits only increase.

Sitting in that room, I was so grateful to hear the integration of these concepts at such a high level of practice. Taking care of ourselves often gets lost in the shuffle of our careers and life. But I believe it’s the most important factor in truly being effective, productive, and helpful to others.

In practicing mindfulness, there is just so much more room to be natural, authentic, and effective. By clearing space inside ourselves, we create room to be more receptive and more effective in our relationships with others, our work, and ourselves.

I initially began my meditation practice after being introduced to the Art of Living Foundation, an organization focused on creating a stress-free and violence-free society. Meditation, and mindfulness have changed my life fundamentally and I only wish I could have been exposed to these practices earlier.  Other organizations that assist in cultivating mindfulness include:

Mindfulness Without Borders

ALIA (Authentic Leadership in Action) Institute

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About Komal Minhas

Intern, Social Innovation Generation (National)


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey with mindfulness and social innovation, Komal!

  2. I totally agree with the power of mindfulness. When I am feeling negative emotions, I look outward and direct my focus towards my environment. By being in the present moment and not living in my own head, my emotions cease to bother me. This is a great technique and a great article.

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