Mindful Employer Network meeting – 23 April 2015
Over 25 attendees from organisations such as StepChange, Leeds Trinity, NHS, Pace and the Rugby Football League.
Next meeting is 9 July from 3pm. Theme is the link between physical and mental health. Venue TBC.
Any questions on or support needed for Mindful Employer or mental health for employees please email Sarah or call on 0113 2302631.
Focus on Mindfulness – in practice and in business
Practicing being in the Present Moment: being in the present on purpose. We are not trying to get somewhere else, only working at being where we already are and being here fully. (Source: Jon Kabat-Zinn from his book Full Catastrophe Living)
The Seven Pillars of Mindfulness: These ‘pillars’ are possible to achieve through your mindful practice as it develops. Once you have established a regular or daily mindfulness practice, these pillars can inspire you and are useful to keep in mind as you prepare to practice.
- Non-judging: attending closely to your experience, you may realise how much of the time we usually spend judging ourselves, often harshly. Simply accepting things as they are may be very different from our usual habit
- Patience: This speaks for itself – just notice if you are impatient. Don’t fight impatient feelings, yet don’t let them control you either. Observe them, and carry out your practice.
- Beginner’s Mind: Try seeming your most familiar surroundings as if for the first time. If we say ‘I know this is not for me’ or ‘I know what this is going to feel like’ before trying something new, we lose the present moment by jumping to conclusions.
- Trust: This is about your own experience. If we tell you how something should feel, please don’t accept that! Mindfulness is about becoming even more fully yourself than you already are.
- Non-striving: Mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening. We say, ‘I’m going to get relaxed’ or ‘control my pain’ – using mindfulness, then we introduce an expectation that gets in the way of attending to what is real this moment. Once we stop expecting or demanding results they are actually more likely to happen.
- Acceptance: Accepting yourself as you are. If that seems impossible, then perhaps you can accept that you are still learning how to like yourself.
- Letting go: In mindfulness practice, we don’t hold onto pleasant experiences, nor reject unpleasant ones. We recognise our thoughts, know they are just thoughts, and let them go. This is how we make room for what is happening right now.
(Source: Jon Kabat-Zinn. 1991)
Capital One case study – Using mindfulness at work
Emma Wardropper, Employee Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Capital One is a credit card company based in Nottingham with around 1,000 employees. Emma Wardropper, Employee Relations Advisor, has helped embed mindfulness practice within the business.
Emma personally knows the benefits of mindfulness – suffering from MS she attended a course recommended by her consultant two years ago and feels that meditating daily has helped her avoid having a relapse for over two years.
Based on Emma’s experience she felt that mindfulness would be beneficial to other Capital One employees. Mindfulness was initially offered to a small population of employees receiving support from an external psychologist provided by Capital One. This proved effective in helping them reduce stress and anxiety.
Even though absence levels are consistently lower than industry standard at Capital One, the company decided to offer two-hour introductory mindfulness workshops to all employees. The HR team has publicised these as part of its Health and Wellbeing strategy through the internal communications channels, including the all-company email. To-date more than 300 employees have attended the introductory workshop to find out how mindfulness could benefit them in both their work and home lives. Mindfulness has been integrated into the culture of Capital One and initiatives are offered as a way to help all employees who live, as many of us do, with busy minds and busy lives.
Capital One has also created a mindfulness room for employees to use in their breaks or lunchtimes. This has a resources corner featuring research, evidence and information on the business case for mindfulness. The company also runs regular mindfulness (MBSR) courses for employees.
David Bolt (Assistant General Counsel) and Diane Needham (Front Line Operations manager) are two employees who feel that mindfulness has been of significant benefit to them.
Mindfulness practice with Shona Lowe
It’s hard to describe the session for you as everyone’s experiences are slightly different and the best thing is to try it for yourself! Most of the Network reported feeling calmer and more focused following the practice and there was definitely a buzz in the room.
Shona’s tips on starting to practice on your own:
“Mental stillness, peace and inner calm can be achieved through mindfulness and deepens with regular formal practice. I would recommend starting with ‘sitting with the breath’ for 5-10 mins at home on a daily basis. It is best to find a time which suits you and make a commitment to do it at the same time every day. This is a real commitment, but just 5 mins every day can make a big difference in deepening your natural ability to be mindful. I would recommend strengthening your practice of mindful sitting to start with. You do not have to sit in a particular way, just be comfortable. I would suggest sitting in a supported, upright position – gentle attentiveness – as this is best for feeling the breath in the body (and helping the diaphragm to move). After you have been practicing for a few weeks, you may like to try mindful walking around the garden or park, sitting for longer with the breath as the single focus, or doing a short body-scan – whichever practice you feel most drawn to.”
You can find tips and advice on mindfulness practice on Shona’s blog page:
Please feel free to get in touch with Shona with questions about mindfulness or to discuss your needs for mindfulness training.
Shona M Lowe Dip. Counselling, MBACP (Accred.), MA (Hons), PGCE
Mindfulness teacher & facilitator and Counselling Therapist
For those of you wanting to find out more about mindfulness Shona has provided some suggested reading:
Jon Kabat-Zinn: Coming to our Senses
Full Catastrophe Living
Also, any of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s recorded guided practices on CD or download.
Jack Kornfield: A Path with Heart
The Wise Heart
Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now
Suzuki: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle of Mindfulness
The following are targeted at the health professional or mindfulness facilitator, but are quite useful for getting an idea of how mindfulness is being applied to help those suffering from depression or anxiety.
Acceptance and Mindfulness-Based Approaches to Anxiety. Ed. Susan M Orsillo.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression. by Z.V Segal, J MG Williams, John D Teasdale.