Mindful Marketing- An Interview with Shalini Bahl

Mindful marketing illustration for KharmahMohanWe’ve been following Shalini Bahl’s journey for a while now, so it was a great pleasure to have the chance to sit down with her and have a discussion about her passion- mindfulness.

Now you might be thinking what does this have to do with a marketing blog? Well, we’ll get to that.

Shalini is a well respected marketing academic and consultant, working with small and corporate businesses alike.  Her passion is to bring the practice of mindfulness and its distinct benefits to businesses of all sizes and brands.

First, for those of you not familiar, what is mindfulness?

Shalini defined mindfulness to us as “a practice and way of being centered around the principles of non-judgmental awareness, compassion, and being in the present moment.”   You know how you can be on autopilot, going from one task to the next not even realizing how you got there?  The essence of mindfulness is to train yourself away from living on autopilot and instead be in the moment.

At, KharmahMohan, we’re intrigued by the applications of mindfulness and marketing.

What are the benefits? Shalini spoke to us about applying mindfulness to business practices. She cited one study where purpose-driven businesses, like Patagonia, Whole Foods and Ben and Jerry’s, outperformed the S&P 500 by 7:1! [1] This shows that conscious business practices can have a major impact on the success of business.  And so can mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).  Mindful marketing becomes a way of life just as MBSR- it is a different way of relating to stress as a different way of relating to marketing- learning non-judgmental acceptance.

Mindful marketing, non-judgmental awareness of the market environment, and of yourself within it, allows for more resilience and company integrity, like the study shows.

It’s about dealing with what is rather than what you want- accepting reality.  Accepting reality means making the most of what you have, of what is, rather than sticking your head in the sand hoping it is will be what you want, when it isn’t. You are aware, in the moment and not cruising along on autopilot.

Mindfulness helps develop vision.

It helps us to see what is meaningful to us. It separates the clutter from what we have been told is important and what it means to be successful. Through the practice we begin to be ok with the challenges – not from a  place of striving, but from “non-striving.” This, like Shalini talks about in her recent blog post on the subject, means being “fully engaged in what ever you are doing without the struggle to get any where other than where you are.

You work with a new kind of alertness that is in touch with what is happening in the present moment.

You are fully attending to the present moment and therefore more open to new possibilities emerging in the moment.” What I take this to mean is that a non-striving vision is one that has a goal but, because it is attune to the present, is more open to the possibilities of the future. Isn’t that what vision is all about?  Non-striving is about surrender. Allowing things to unfold. You give your 100% without being obsessed about the end goal because you are present in the moment. This is mindfulness.

Mindfulness and marketing come together because they have the same goal- to be aware and present in the current moment and to listen non-judgmentally.

Sometimes that gets lost in the sales-focused marketing atmosphere, but is what’s at the core of good marketing- listening to customer needs and fulfilling those needs in what we call a mindful manner.

[1] See the Center for Conscious Capitalism for more information http://www.consciouscapitalism.org/

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