Coming from a Hindu family, mindfulness was something that was always stressed and discussed in my household. However, it was something that I had a hard time getting involved with, and I associated mindfulness with meditation. When I received an email from BLI, I noticed the mindful leader program which piqued my interest in challenging what I knew.

I ended up applying to the program, interviewing with Elizabeth, and was looking forward to the experience knowing very well that the pandemic would alter how this mindful program would pan out. When I was accepted, I looked forward to meditating but also as someone whose top skills include leadership, coaching, mentorship - I was very curious to see how I would apply mindfulness as the leader that I wanted to become post-graduation.

Our program ended up remote due to the Covid pandemic. However, it still gave me a lot to take from and in some ways was quite rewarding beyond just being physically present with one another. We would start every meeting with meditation. We would get into an activity - whether it was the river of life activity or getting to work on your mindful organization projects, etc. After that, we also had time to share and talk with one another about our journeys with mindfulness.

Reflecting now, I have learned a lot from the program. As a 20-year-old going through a pandemic while away from home, I was able to keep myself grounded through some of the activities we had the privilege of learning about. In particular, our free journaling prompts over the holidays and learning about the hot pen technique were some of the more helpful activities as I was given a space to understand how I was feeling and productively express it.

Additionally, as a student leader on campus, I was able to be more mindful and aware of the spaces I was cultivating. My goal as a leader, especially of an organization of 93 people, was to ensure that everyone felt heard, valued, and respected. As I mentioned in the final project, I developed a gratitude initiative and was able to cultivate a safe, virtual space for those of all identities during the pandemic and during a time across the globe of mass racism, homophobia, etc.

Going forward, I will be moving to the Bay Area to work with an executive search firm. As a freshly graduated student beginning her first professional role, I know I’m living in a time of big change. The techniques that I learned from the Mindful Leader program are almost therapeutic in that I will be able to document, understand, and reflect on my experiences and take care of my mental health. Additionally, the techniques I have learned from this program can be utilized within the workplace. As I said previously, I developed gratitude forms and other initiatives in my student organizations. I plan to continue these initiatives in my current work. I will also continue to learn about and navigate my own understanding of how to be a mindful leader. This program has given me the tools and language to get that conversation started.