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Mindfulness For Peak Performance – Michael Chaskalson

Mindfulness For Peak Performance

Michael Chaskalson is the founder and Chief Executive of Mindfulness Works Ltd. The author of The Mindful Workplace (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and Mindfulness In Eight Weeks (Harper Thorsons, 2014), Michael is one of the world’s foremost proponents of the use of mindfulness in workplace settings. He has a master’s degree in the clinical applications of mindfulness and more than 40 years of personal practice of mindfulness and related disciplines. Michael has delivered mindfulness training to groups and senior individuals in a wide range of organisations around the world.

In this presentation Michael shows us how mindfulness helps us perform at our best when we’re under pressure and how it increases our capacity for resilience of stressful situations in the workplace.

He teaches about how sustained attention and sustained intention build new neural pathways in your brain and gives us a chance to experience a number of short and practical mindfulness practices, including the mindful minute.

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Show Notes

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Check out Melli’s blog, events and retreats at MrsMindfulness.com

You can check out more about Michael’s work and check out his books on his website here www.mindfulnessworks.com




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129 Responses

  1. There is so much useful, practical guidance in Michael’s presentation. These are insights that we can really use in our day to day life to be more effective in our work and in our lives. What were your favourite tips? I often use 1 minute meditations in my work day and love them.

    1. Naphtali Zimmerman


      I would say the 1 minute meditation as he described it was a novel tip for me.

      I was amazed, just astounded, by the graphic of the number of papers on mindfulness versus time. I started meditating 1999 and that was right on cusp of explosion and most of what I have studied in meanwhile was Buddhist sources not scientific ones.

      I am a scientist (chemist) but not in this field so I had no idea.

      I think today would clear up most people’s remaining questions – it was awesome.

      With love and gratitude you have put this together,

      1. Barbara Sowada

        Naphi –

        Thank you for the recommendation to click on the Mindfulness Summit. I saw the recommendation in the Tibetan Buddhist coursera class. Great Summit. Thanks again for the recommendation.

    2. Rachel Harding

      I listened at work today and both mindful practices really reset me between important tasks. I really likes his ideas and comments on striving from a place of the green zone and the blue zone and that we don’t need to be on high stress alert in order to achieve things. Since starting the mindfulness summit I have really noticed that a lot of people including myself believe you have to be stressed out and look busy in order to get things done and in fact I see the opposite. So many great insights on a daily basis!

    3. Roseanne Foster

      I have been really gaining a whole lot of insight into what mindfulness is about from the presenters on this summit. Thank you Melli for bringing it to us. Although I am a novice at mindful meditating, (I am one of the ones who find it difficult to still for any length of time). I am pleased to find that I have been mindful in some ways that I hadn’t even realized before like in being a mindful walker and shopper e.g. At least it’s a start! 🙂 This course broadens the scope of mindfulness for me. The presenters have been skillfully lined up to reinforce mindfulness teaching, each one building on the other. Thanks to each one of them.

    4. Francoise

      Michael’s talk was really a delight and his slides a great support to summarize ideas, concepts and scientific findings. It is a real talent to be able to explain difficult ideas with so much simplicity and clarity! 1 minute mindfulness is a good one for the tool kit, along with the color coded systems of emotions — and the finger breathing and the 3 minutes breathing space from previous speakers too.
      This summit is stimulating, connecting, intriguing… a brilliant mindful gem! Thank you Melli!

    5. Jim Bright

      I counted 15 breaths in the minute. This was a new technique for me and am please I’ve learned it ! It’s something that can be done anywhere which is great. I now know to count 15 breaths whenever I need to re-ground myself. I also do Melli’s “A few moments of mindfulness” mp3 track every morning before I begin the day, which works well.

  2. beatrijs van+agt

    I really loved this talk. I like Michael Chaskalsons pleasant, kind and understandable technical way of looking at things. The information on how the brain works is very helpful in understanding the reasons for the effectiveness of mindfulness. Once again it made me realize the huge impact of feeling fearful on (not) being able to enjoy life more as one is simply ‘cut-off’ from the neural networks that are about these feelings of happiness and liveliness. It’s a great gift to be offered such simple practices as the 1-minute breathing technique – and Katherine Weares fingerbreathing to name another – to regain access to the so-called ‘green zone’ of feeling calm and connected as a basis to be active upon (the ‘blue zone’ of doing things) instead of living&fighting from the ‘red zone’ of fear&anxiety.
    I am truly greatful that this body of knowledge about mindfulness is out there now and being made more accessible by this summit.

  3. Terina Parmenter

    LOVED Michael’s talk. Very informative, easy to understand, Enjoyed learning more about mindfulness influence on the brain & Left brain v Right brain activation. Enjoyed Michael sharing various studies & results. Wonderful. Thank you!

  4. D Jay

    I am interested in the research on improvement in working memory after mindfulness practise as I am a teacher and the search for a way to improve pupils working memory is vital to academic achievement. There are a lot of non evidence based practices that schools, and parents, spend a lot of time and money on (pupil time) and do not generalise to real world learning situations or real life outcomes. It appears that mindfulness is leading the way in not only a more kind and compassionate world but possibly more able, and ready, to learn which makes sense as mindfulness helps increase attention and focus when practised regularly.

  5. Dolores MacNeil

    Liked the non judgmental separation into the wisdom and compassion dimensions. It is what it is and we can compassionately choose where to go next.
    Thank you.

  6. Kim Douglass

    Another amazing speaker. I think it’s great that you can get so many people together about the same topic and the discussions can be similar, yet so different. The poem that he read by Portia Nelson was touching.

  7. Steven Kraslen

    Very informative. Was interested to hear that the Marine Corps did a test using Mindfullness. Went ahead and ordered his book, Mindfullness In 8 Weeks. Been learning a lot this past 26 days. Thanks for all your hard work putting this together. Looking forward to the remaining days ahead.

  8. I enjoyed learning about the memory component to mindfulness. I wasn’t aware of the connection to working memory. It is also interesting to see that different people have different thoughts about how you meditate. I’m with Shamash that you can take a more relaxed posture. Michael works with people in the workplace, so sitting upright in a chair makes more sense. Nice talk.

  9. Katja Fleck

    I love the idea that in our modern live there is, from an evolutionary perspective, a hidden bear behind each rock. But we do have these “camp fires” inside us every moment to calm and connect ????

  10. Neita

    Hi! I really enjoyed Michael’s presentation. I took a MBSR course last year (January-February) and it was life-changing.I took the course strictly with the intention of learning something new. It ended up that it gave me the tools to leave a very stressful corporate job and I am now in my 7th week of a new and rewarding career.

    But I desired a refresher. This Mindfulness Summit has certainly got me back on a regular mindfulness practice. It’s evolved that I listen to the lectures when I wake in the morning. I’ve been feeling a sense of disappointment that I won’t have fresh lectures to listen to and start my day once this summit is over.

    Fortunately, Michael’s presentation came along. I’ve purchased his ‘Mindfulness in 8 Weeks’ book. So, beginning November 1, I will continue to start my morning with learning more about mindfulness and doing a daily practice. THANK YOU!!

  11. jeanette

    I listen to each day’s talk with a notebook to write down client names that I think might be helped by that speaker. I think Michael’s talk would work with all of my veteran clients. I have been using mindfulness for years, find it very helpful. It still amazes and amuses me that so many people would rather not make the investment in themselves, with just a few minutes a day. The month has been great. Thank you!

  12. Naphtali Zimmerman

    today was super duper. I think if you had any remaining questions on Mindfulness today would clear it up. Presentation was very thoughtful, organized, and meaningful. Posture is important in meditation as you really want unimpeded breath

  13. Tobias Schreiber

    Very interesting and useful session. Informative presentation. Great approach and attitude. Thank you Michael for sharing. Melli, thank you for your effort and vision to co-ordinate this Summit.

  14. Christine Evans

    Another wonderful speaker! I enjoyed the whole presentation! I’m beginning to see changes in my life as a result of mindfulness, mainly being more aware of and open to others. Love this summit. Thanks again, Melli!

  15. Steven Dietrich

    Thank you Michael for today’s talk. And thank you Melli for the great summit. I discovered and have been developing a new practice called Mettatations that combines Positive Psychology and Meditation, with the power of touch, movement, yoga, and breathwork. I’m still working on the website and uploading audios and videos daily, but I wanted to share it with you and this community.

    Mettatations are an easier and better way to meditate. They are specifically designed to bring Peace, Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Wisdom to your Mind, Body, and Heart. Check them out at mettatations.com and let me know what you think.
    Thank you Melli!

  16. Darren

    “We bury things so deep we no longer remember there was anything to bury. Our bodies remember. Our neurotic states remember. But we don’t.”

    ― Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

    There’s a certain irony in meeting this side of the mindfulness movement. In my own circles, we’re proposing meditation for healing the wounds of war, while the military is using these teachings to make war more comfortable.

    This is the trouble that our monks in the tradition speak to, from which the privilege is granted to bring mindful practice into secular folds. “We don’t want our traditions used for harm.”

    “It is what it is.”

    I appreciate peace. I appreciated the words shared that in war, a mindfulness trained soldier will perhaps be more alert, and therefore do much less indiscriminate injury out of fear.

    I’m trying to be non-judgemental: But I’m not sure that either the Buddha, or the Dalai Lama had performance, and gaining an ‘edge’ in business in mind with the practices we’ve been granted permission to use. I’m biased, though. I’m no longer comfortable, at all, with any form of ego-driven behaviours of dominance really.

    Mindfulness for war? Mindfulness for an edge? Mindfulness for performance in a world heck-bent on witnessing it’s own further destruction?

    I’m going to need to reflect deeply on this presentation. My visceral reaction is getting me in a little trouble.

    Be Well.

    1. Michael Chaskalson

      Thanks Darren, for that considered response.

      I really don’t want ‘mindful war’. I think that’s a contradiction in terms. But since we have war, better to have warriors able to manage themselves and their mental states more effectively. That way, fewer people unnecessarily injured and there are lower levels of PTSD and all the associated trauma when people come home.

      My take on the mindful workplace is quite simple: when people are better able to manage their own minds and their mental states, things go better for all of us. I’m deeply heartened by the studies that seem to show that when people train in mindfulness their levels of care and concern go up. That’s what I’m after – a world where more people care.

      1. Darren

        Thank you, Michael for the response. As you can tell, I’m torn. I’ll be sure to include your response. The clarification is wrought with the thoughts of a peace-loving man. I’m grateful. My tearing heart, so longs for peace. Here’s a hope of outcome. Our legislators, learning to be more mindful; our policy-makers in power; by embracing mindfulness, work then from a perspective that is clear, and choose, mindfully, to make friends of enemies, the greatest of which is living inside. Best to you Sir. Be Well. 🙂

  17. Darren

    This meme goes by on the internet quite frequently these days, and sums up what I’m feeling, following this presentation.

    “There is a white wolf and a black wolf living inside of me. These two wolves battle incessantly for control. For the battle to end we must be wise in choosing which wolf it is we ultimately (in life) choose to feed.” (Paraphrased).

    We’ve two aspects of our nature. Our best selves, and our worst. Yes, ‘It is what it is.’ Reality, is reality.

    But, we create that reality, and we can all find our way to peace, inner and outer peace.

    If the edge that’s groomed with infiltration of mindfulness in the corporate world translates to peace, cooperation, altruism and social conscience, I’m in. If it translates into further acts of justified dominance, I’m sorry, but I see this outcome as evidence, should this happen over time, of misuse of the tradition. Not unlike misuse of science spawned our now “is what it is” experience with nuclear weapons. Forethought, with ethical consideration for what we’re up to, with anything we use to advance our race is warranted, I believe, where mindfulness in secular society is concerned.


    1. Darren



      I use this song often, for my personal reflections: It helps keep me personally focused on what our best-self is capable of achieving: This too is, I’m certain (with Michaels’s reply to my post) exactly what Michael hopes to ultimately achieve in his own work through mindfulness.

      Thank you, so much, for clarifying your position. Be Well.

  18. Gregory Peters

    So many comments and they will all be gone in 48 hours or less. That is a bit sad. Why do we write them? I have been tuned out for many sessions. I have not taken the challenge. I did, however, choose today’s presentation, and found it very informative and rewarding. Thank you Michael.

  19. Kerry lee

    Thank you Michael! I took loads of notes and really appreciated your wonderful teaching style. I am getting myself ready to lead a mindfulness workshop next month and found your session most helpful with the practical info and practices! Thank you kindly,

  20. Jean Enright

    Thanks for this presentation. A lovely man, a good explanation of mindfulness and its uses and effectiveness. very helpful, and I will pass it on to a few others who might connect with his way of presenting.

  21. Catherine

    Michael’s presentation was great. I even took lots of notes. Loved his definition of mindfulness, how we can train our brain, and how the blue, red and green systems work in our body. So inspiring that the data is able to sell mindfulness in a rational way. He is an awesome presenter! Plan to check out his book.

  22. Jenny Hoggarth

    Thank you so much Michael and Melli- such a privilege to spend this time learning together.
    Will be ordering that book, a few times, sounds like an excellent Christmas gift!!

  23. Emily Hanlon

    Thank you both mel and micheal, great session, loved the poem and the 1 minute practice, will certainly en corporate the 1 minute prace, I usually put my hand on my belly to settle myself!!!! Thanks you both blessings from Emily from Ireland ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

  24. Caroline Corcoran

    Thank you Michael, great presentation, I will definitely be doing the mindful minute regularly, its so easy to put into practice
    Once again thank you Melli, the summit has been fab!

  25. Jim Bright

    Thanks Michael, an excellent and fascinating talk. I remember listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn talking about the training of the Marine Corps in an interview or lecture, or could have been one of his books. If memory serves he said how initially he had arguments with the people training them as he thought it unethical to teach mindfulness to the military for war purposes. However they did persuade him that indeed, a mindful soldier is less likely to kill as they would be more present and less likely to react, and mistakenly shoot.

    He also told a story of how a lot of the soldiers who went to Afghanistan with the other soldiers who had trained in mindfulness were contacting the team to ask for mindfulness training, after it was discovered the soldiers that were trained in this way, were less likely to suffer the terrible stress, shakes etc, that some of the poor soldiers that weren’t trained in mindfulness were suffering due to the terrible things they had to go through.

  26. Gillian Moon

    Thank you Michael – what a pleasure to listen to you speak; kind and compassionate, clear and understandable. Very much enjoyed this presentation and learned a lot.
    Blessings of love and light

  27. Jennifer

    Thank you Michael. That was wonderful. It was useful to see different aspects of topics alrwady introduced like green zone ro paul gilberts circle model. Loved your style!

    1. Christine Hendricks

      A very interesting session. I too enjoyed Michael’s direct but gentle style. I also found the research by INSEAD et al quite intriguing, namely that teaching mindfulness is much more effective than teaching ethics directly for changing behaviour around social responsibility. This is something I hope we can bring into business school education, and higher education more generally.

      Thank you Michael and Mellie.

    2. Angelina lorenz

      Thank you for reading this poem at the end! I have had that poem since i was about 8years old and was always drawn to it. I cant believe i am hearing it referenced here. And for the mindful minute !

  28. Stina Bavnhøj

    Thank you so much for a useful and kind talk. I like your presentation concerning high performance – and the poem is one of my favorites. I also teach the MBSR programme in Denmark. Is it possible that you can leave the webpage address with the audio file you mentioned below? Thank you so much.

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