By Stephen Burke, Director of Mindfulness
At Lea_p, we recently had the opportunity to bring Mindfulness to a large corporate global online learning event. We were tasked with introducing Mindfulness in 55 minutes and with repeating the same session multiple times over four weeks. It was a blast and the feedback from the participants and the organisers was very positive. Having had time to reflect on that experience, I wanted to pass on the main learnings in the hope that it will help anyone else looking to build interest and awareness in Mindfulness within their organisation. This is not an exhaustive list but captures what feels most relevant from this experience. So, here it is….
1. Be clear on the goal of the session - Mindfulness is vast.
55 minutes is short! Our goal was to equip and inspire participants to give Mindfulness practice a try for two weeks.
2. Explore and normalise our human condition – minds think. Constantly.
Normalising that is such a big insight and relief for everyone. We are not trying to stop thoughts in Mindfulness practice but, instead, to change our relationship to thoughts and thinking. This is a key first lesson in Mindfulness. We used the ‘recognizing the unsettled mind’ practice from the UK Mindfulness Association’s ‘Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC) as the key insight and learning for this in this session.
3. De-bug myths
It’s essential to give some time to defining what mindfulness is and, just as important, what it isn’t. It’s not ‘finding your happy place’ or blocking thoughts and feelings and that’s important for participants to know.
4. Apply it to daily life.
We have so many ‘to do’ already. Don’t over burden participants with a new, big ‘to do’. Explain formal and informal practice and make it an easy process for people. Five minutes of practice and picking one daily activity to do mindfulness (e.g. brushing your teeth, washing the dishes) if far more beneficial than sitting for one hour every Saturday. We challenged our participants to choose and commit to trying one formal practice (sitting, walking, movement or body scan practice) for between 5 – 15mins per day and to select one daily activity that they felt inspired to commit to doing Mindfully.
5. Mention compassion.
We all have struggles. Applying self compassion to ourselves and to our Mindfulness practice is a key enabler of self care and resilience. It’s also essential if we are to reap the rewards from a Mindfulness practice in our lives. This self-compassion can be trained (fortunately!) and helps us cultivate more compassion for others. Self-compassion is also necessary for us to show compassion for others without burning out. The anology of putting our own oxygen masks on before helping others put on theirs is very useful – and true - here.
6. Get feedback.
This may seem obvious but the time limit in shorter sessions may temp you to skip it. Don’t. For one, getting feedback helps you get more insight into the context in the organization, the language that is used and is most accepted, plus fine tuning your impact
7. Offer support.
For starting a practice, it is very helpful to have guidance. For our sessions we commonly point the participants to the resource section of our website or to the UK Mindfulness Association’s app which has excellent guided practices. There are other great apps like Headspace, Insight Timer and Calm that could be used as alternatives. One consideration for me is that I like to offer people the practices that we have done in the session. I feel that this ease participants into their fledgling practice. Apps with hundreds of practice choices can feel overwhelming until participants have developed their practice routine.
8. Plan follow up.
Don’t lose momentum or leave people hanging. How can the support continue and grow? There’s a multitude of options here and depends on time, budget and geographic spread of the organisation. But, don’t get overwhelmed – start small and at least one or two check in calls can be offered as follow up to allow participants to touch back in and ask any questions they have.
At Lea_p we have invested years of effort and experience in developing Mindfulness programmes that are effective, efficient and highly contextualised into today’s workplace. If you want to learn more or discuss how we can support you in bringing the huge benefits of mindfulness practice to your organisation, please get in touch! E: firstname.lastname@example.org