Jon Macaskill (muh-KAS-kill) is a Navy SEAL Commander turned mindfulness and meditation teacher.
He’s a Naval Academy graduate and has his masters in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Jon has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, off the coast of Somalia, and in Panama.
He serves as the Deputy Executive Director for Veteran’s PATH, a nonprofit organization that works to introduce meditation and mindfulness to veterans to bring them a sense of Peace, Acceptance, Transformation and Honor.
He also runs his own consulting company, Macaskill Consulting, LLC, bringing mindfulness and meditation to high performing teams to aid in dealing with stress, anxiety and depression all while increasing focus, creativity, and productivity.
Jon’s wife also served in the Navy and is now a civilian Orthopedic Physician Assistant in Virginia Beach. They are the proud parents of two small children and currently live as a family in Chesapeake, VA
In his time with the Seal Teams, he experienced stress, anxiety and stress which the Navy prescribed medications. While there’s a time and place where medication may be necessary, he felt the side effects were more than they were worth and started to explore more options. That’s when he discovered mindfulness and meditation. Initially he was hesitant as he believed as many people do, there was a stigma associated with practicing.
As a data driven operations research specialist, Jon started to examine the data associated with practicing mindfulness and meditation and was surprised at what he found.
The change came for Jon when after practicing for a short time, people at work started to ask about the changes they had seen.
As Jon started planning for transition from the Navy, he explored various industries and options and wasn’t finding something he was passionate about, but then it clicked. The practice of mindfulness and meditation in his life had turned into a passion he could pursue and teach others how to face tough situations.
So what is mindfulness meditation?
Jon briefly explains the differences:
Meditation – intentionally setting aside time, to find quiet and introspective.
Mindfulness – being deliberate about where your focus is, tasting food, driving mindfully, being aware of the senses in the current moment. Focusing on the here and now.
Mindfulness meditation – This is the overlap between mindfulness and meditation, where you’re setting time aside to meditate, but focusing on sensations in our body to bring you into the present moment.
All of these help to eliminate stress, and focus on the present, at least in the moment avoiding the feelings of the past.
Mindfulness meditation is a great tool to decrease tension and stress, lower cortisol, lower adrenaline, reduce heart rate, and rewires the brain (Improves neuroplasticity for long term benefits) to respond rather than react to outside stimulus. Overall these practices improve your ability to strengthen resilience.
How can businesses leverage mindfulness meditation practices to improve resilience in their organizations?
Jon shares three ways he believes that business leaders can apply these practices:
- Personally – the leaders themselves practice mindfulness and meditation to help manage stressful situations, responding rather than reacting to situations, before, during or after.
- As a leader, incorporating practices as an organizational strategy, by providing these tools to your team, they can be better prepared to manage stress, increase productivity and communication.
- Use these tools to improve empathy and kindness as an organization.
Serving as the Deputy Executive Director of Veterans Path, Jon leads veterans through these practices almost exclusively to help manage stresses associated with their experiences and through their transition from the military.
As a result of the current COVID-19 Crisis, Veterans Path has partnered with eMindful to offer virtual resources in lieu of their usual model of serving veterans through in-person retreats.
Be sure to check out the webinar series with eMindful.
When faced with stress, your ability to focus on the task at hand is eroded because of increased adrenaline, increased heart rate and more. These practices are a great way to help reduce that fight or flight or “amped” feeling that we feel.
To learn more about these practices, Jon recommends several resources to help you, as well as connecting with either Veterans Path or with him through Macaskill Consulting, LLC or Jon Macaskill.
Jon artfully closes our interview out by guiding us through a simple mindful meditation exercise that you can apply to help reduce stress in a situation you may be facing.