Could Mindfulness be responsible for a ‘quiet revolution’ spreading across our businesses and UK government?
I wanted to learn more about how being mindful at work can be a powerful tool. So in September 2014 I attended the International Conference for ‘Mindfulness at Work’ at Cranfield University*.
The event provided a platform to hear from organisational leaders who are implementing mindfulness programmes within businesses. These are as diverse as the British Veterinary Association, British Transport, British Telecom and banking.
Mindfulness in UK Parliament
95 MPs and peers have undertaken an 8-week course in mindfulness. In May 2014, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Mindfulness was launched.
In 2015 the results of studying mindfulness in schools, hospitals and the workplace were presented to Parliament. Conservative MP Tracey Crouch has spoken out about suffering from depression and how the practice of mindfulness helped her to come off anti-depressants.
Chris Ruane MP, a former school teacher and head teacher, has been at the forefront of sharing mindfulness across the parties in parliament. **
Mindfulness and Mental Health
However, it doesn’t look at the moment as though we have many mindful leaders in key positions in politics.
But mental health awareness in general, has become a highlighted topic. This is certainly a good thing. You can follow up more about this with Mental Health.org. And you might be hearing about your own children in school using a few mindful tips to help stay happy and calm.
Marion Furr, Senior Civil Servant at Whitehall spoke at the International Conference. She highlighted how mindfulness needs to be incorporated into the basic training of teachers and medical students as a way of building personal resources. With the APPG now launched, and with mindfulness becoming a national agenda, it is only a matter of time until we become a ‘mindful nation.’
However, recent demands are for GPs to work longer hours and crippling cuts for the NHS. Every single one of us has the right to good health. This comes about through a balance between work, home life and healthy life-style. This is essential for GPs and NHS workers as well as for everyone they serve.
Mindfulness in the USA
The UK is not alone in its interest in this subject. In the USA, Congressman Tim Ryan discovered mindfulness for himself in 2008. He was inspired to write ‘A Mindful Nation‘ and instigated a foundation to implement ‘a quiet revolution … one breath at a time.’
Speaking at The Mindfulness Conference, he says that he spends quiet time in mindful meditation first thing in the morning. This then allows him to bring clarity to the times when he is in the ‘field of action’ ie in his work in politics. His vision for the USA as a mindful nation is to grow strengths and get out of the mindset of fear-based thinking and anger.
Tim Ryan seems to be continuing strongly with his values despite recent events in the US. The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness. Bigotry, racism, sexism and bullying are mindless qualities from people who react from their primitive brain.
Be Mindful at Work – UK Businesses
Back here in the UK, British Telecom, which has almost 88,000 employers have developed a strategic approach around mental health. Head of Wellbeing and Health at BT, Catherine Kilfedder, speaks about how mindfulness is part of BT’s Mental Health Toolkit. This builds a resilient organisation and a resilient workforce; one is the enabler of the other.
Increasingly, businesses are dipping a toe into mindfulness for their workforces. Facebook, Virgin Atlantic, Barclays Bank, KPMG, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank are valuing mindfulness because of its beneficial outcomes:
• Reduced absenteeism through stress
• Greater clarity and focus in the workplace
• Improved communication
• Increased creativity for problem-solving
• Improved morale, increased levels of job satisfaction and increased motivation to contribute
• Essential part of maintaining healthy balance and good health awareness
• Increased emotional intelligence – knowing how to manage your own emotions and be aware of others’
Values in the Workplace
I would also like to see the values that mindfulness encourages being more prominently taken on-board. So banks, for example, use mindfulness to reduce the stress of their workforce. Yet they still have not become aware of the bigger picture. We need integrity and less greed underlying the choices and decisions in the world.
Perhaps we need to be a bit more patient and trusting too! Throughout the workplace, schools and hospitals, mindfulness is beginning to build a powerful presence.
Mindfulness helps us be more thoughtful and compassionate people. It helps us be emotionally resilient in an increasingly challenging world. We have to start somewhere towards a more value-based mindful society.
So start with yourself! And if you have the influence, share it in your workplace. Perhaps the deeper meaning of mindfulness practice will follow.
2 minute video worth watching from Mindfulnet: Mindfulness in the workplace
What do you think of being mindful at work? Is your workplace informed about this yet? I’d love to hear your view in the Comments below. Do share if you like this post, especially with work colleagues.
* International Conference for Mindfulness at Work
** 7 May 1014 The Launch of Mindfulness in Parliament
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Publication of report: Wellbeing in four policy areas, one of which is Mindfulness, September 11, 2014
Yvette Jane Mindfulness & Meditation Coach at Place of Serenity
This updated blog post was first published 15 December 2014
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