A few years ago, I was attending the annual Training & Consultancy Conference and heard a presentation from Dene Donalds and Melanie Chapman on the increasing use of mindfulness practices in social care.
This struck a chord with me. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more.
So, a few days later, I found a local Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course (MBSR) and started on a journey that has transformed both my life and my attitude to the workplace.
Being a natural sceptic, what has kept my attention is the increasing amount of research in this area. This is not some flaky, new-age fad.
So, what is Mindfulness?
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School,
“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises by paying attention,
on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”
Sounds simple? And in some ways it is, but in others, it is really difficult. But when you do give yourself some time to stop and just pay attention to how you are feeling and how you are reacting to situations, then, it can be transformative.
There is lots of information online about mindfulness, so I’m not going to go into more detail here for now. Check it out for yourself, or let me know if you would like me to write another blog on it!
After my MBSR course and starting a journey of regular meditation practice, I wanted to find out more. So, I went back to University in Bangor for a year. Bangor University was one of the first places in the UK to set up a research centre to explore and develop mindfulness-based approaches.
During the year, I have gradually developed my ideas on how we can integrate some of the ideas and concepts behind mindfulness into our work, mainly focusing on enabling and empowering co-workers to have the skills to manage the high-stress situations that appear and also, to enjoy more the successes that happen in the present so much of the time.
We have now run a few general Introduction to Mindfulness Courses as a taster for co-workers from across the organisation and the feedback has been positive and encouraging.
So, what are the next steps?
I am setting up a small focus group of about 10 co-workers, who want to take the lead on how we develop mindfulness within the organisation.
The first step is to let them loose on a full eight-week mindfulness course and then, once they have more information and can see for themselves what seems to work, then we can work together to provide a range of tools, training, skills, practices and ethics that will help us move forward.
This is not something that should be done in isolation. Nor is thing something that can be rushed.
We need to make sure that we can actually show that it works and makes a difference to the co-workers, and ultimately, the people we support. This will link into many other activities within the organisation, such as Driving Up Quality, Practice Leadership and the development of a Wellbeing Strategy.
It is not something that will change overnight, it might take a few years for positive change to happen but I hope that it will be an interesting and inspiring journey.
“Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
Deborah Cornick, Managing Director