Can you implement a program without people being put off by the term mindfulness? By implementing a workplace mindfulness program we are really trying to capture those people who perhaps would not seek it out themselves; those who see it as the new “buzz word” and hear blah, blah, blah…
Of course there are now ample opportunities to explore mindfulness even if you only have the smallest level of interest. There are the apps, yoga classes, retreats, mindfulness studios, podcasts and books that are available to help with introducing mindfulness into your life, as well as, deepening your practice. But unless someone is interested in seeking out mindfulness, these resources may not be touched. So how do we get the sceptics on board? Given how much we now know about the benefits for the individual, teams and in fact organizations, how do we entice those who are saying “thanks but no thanks?” What do we need to do to make sure we make mindfulness available and accessible to everyone? So that everyone can reap the rewards.
I think whilst a lot of people have heard about mindfulness they still might be put off by thinking it has to involve spirituality; that somehow sitting cross-legged and chanting is non-negotiable and incense is a must. What is of course a must is ensuring our team have the strategies and skills to reset during the work day. So we need to present our mindfulness programs in a way where there is something for everyone. We need to offer it in a way that we at least give the sceptics and the doubters the chance of finding something that might be a fit for them. Because I know as a coach, when I get people to stop, breathe into their belly and really feel into their body, there is not one person who doesn’t concede that they feel a little better and that of course is mindfulness; paying attention and coming into the present. Ninja mindfulness – dipping your toe in perhaps without realizing it.
In our organizational programs it is often the integration practices; the journaling, the mindful walking, the mindful listening, the teaching how to grab opportunities to pause during the day; that can really capture people who may not be interested in what they traditionally see as mindfulness. The sceptics, or the people who have decided it is not for them. Certainly an exercise in mindful listening always creates a lot of discussion at workplaces. When we encourage people to just listen for two minutes to their partner – not asking questions, not adding their insights, just listening; people can see the difference between this and their usual interactions. They often describe this as “hearing more detail” or “understanding more of what the person was saying.” Most people leave this exercise thinking not only about how it has changed the quality of their interactions with their team mates, but also how they could use this or how they are not using this in their home life.
With Ninja mindfulness, you do not need to be flying the mindfulness flag. You don’t need classes, retreats or apps (but they are of course still available). It is just about opportunity and ideas of how to pay attention in your life and particularly to the people in your life.
So what should you be including in any organizational program:
1. Integration exercises. Activities people are already doing in their work day so that they can incorporate mindfulness without it taking up any more time or adding to their to-do list. It also perhaps feels more comfortable or natural compared to a sitting practice.
2. Facts, data, research. The benefits are absolutely compelling. Some people may disagree or be sceptical, but the research and facts may just be the thing to help them step over the line and give it a go.
And for those interested in a sitting practice:
3. All different sorts of sitting practices. Practices with lots of instructions, ones with only a few instructions, focusing on mastering the thoughts, paying attention to your body, noticing the breath or considering gratitude.
Mindfulness absolutely is not for everyone. However we now know it has so many advantages for organizations. So when we are introducing a mindfulness program at our workplace we need to look at the breadth and depth of mindfulness. Provide a program that really has something for everyone. In doing this we are giving everyone at least the opportunity to recharge during the work day, in a world where things only seem to be moving faster. Only recently when I was working with an organization one of the greatest naysayers was happy to at least talk through what mindfulness would involve. Wasn’t he surprised to find out his weekly hikes were in fact a form of mindfulness. He was only then too happy to concede that perhaps mindfulness does work, and consider how to incorporate it into his working week rather than waiting until the weekend to regroup.
How can you introduce mindfulness to everyone; a program that captures those that don’t think mindfulness is for them? Ninja mindfulness.