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A Moment of Mindfulness Before a Meeting

From the conference room to the conference call, mindfulness can improve your meetings

When we’re meditating, our minds will often start to wander. They might go off on a stream of consciousness for several minutes before we catch ourselves and bring them back. Often, we think of the mind wandering as a failure, and yet, in fact, the real success is not in keeping the mind from wandering but in the bringing it back and beginning again.

One of the most profound lessons meditation teaches us is that we can always, always, always begin again. Any moment is a time to begin again. No matter how far down the wrong path we’ve gone, we can turn around.

Another benefit of meditation’s “begin again” approach for the workplace comes as people move from one task or challenge to another. Do you really want Fred’s frustration with his computer crashing, or Elaine’s upset over a lost client to be the backdrop for your meeting on increasing inbound sales and marketing? Wouldn’t you prefer that people approach your meeting with a fresh and present-minded perspective? The answer is an obvious “yes.”

The next time you’re running a meeting, try starting it with one minute of silence, focusing on breath and perhaps asking attendees to visualize setting aside their thoughts, concerns, and emotions which are unrelated to the current meeting. I had one client who visualized carrying her “gremlins” out of the conference room and telling them to “sit down and don’t move” until she came out to retrieve them. The benefit is that the attendees will have an opportunity to “begin again” — letting go of whatever just happened in their day (a rough morning commute, an IT frustration, a distracting email) prior to arriving at the meeting. Offer your team a chance to hit the “reset” button with a minute of mindful breathing, and then they’ll approach the work at hand feeling mentally refreshed.

Mindfulness Practice:

  • Spend a minute before you arrive at your next meeting, or before picking up the phone to call someone, with a minute of silence and reflect on how differently you feel during the meeting or while on the call.

This post is a short excerpt from Edie Raphael's The Art of Being Present: Mindfulness Meditation for Work and Life. The full book (including 52 weeks of guided meditations) can be purchased here.

Credit: Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash.

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