Mindfulness is a word that I seem to be hearing everywhere at the moment, and yet my ability to define the term has been lacking. I knew it had something to do with living in the moment. Beyond that I could only grasp at a confusing concept of stress busting colouring books or cool people at Google chilling in beanbags. Needless to say the chance to find out some real information was something I had really been looking forward to. The promise of mini croissants at a networking breakfast made it almost irresistible.
Jacqui and David from Namaste Culture were here bright and early on the morning to set up. They had everything prepared and radiated the calm and welcoming approach that the topic promised. The Cambridge Network team were busy making sure the room was set up, coffee was on hand for the early start and everything was ready for a great session. Even the weather was on our side, with beautiful sunshine bathing the fields outside the conference room in warmth.
People attending the session were a fantastically diverse mix, representing everyone from large companies to interested individuals, all eager to understand mindfulness and how it could benefit them. Conversation over coffee was honest about previous experiences of mindfulness and expectations for the session.
Jacqui opened her presentation with a background of mindfulness. Although it dates back to ancient practices mindfulness is increasingly being proven by science. Medical benefits such as managing pain or recovering from brain damage were cited, alongside business benefits such as employee engagement and wellbeing and quicker, more effective decision making.
David, who spent many years training with Buddhist monks, gave us the much anticipated definition of mindfulness:
“To pay attention, on purpose, in the moment, without judgement”
He then led us in a meditation exercise, stressing that meditation is not mindfulness but is a great way to get us into a mindful state. I’ve got to admit I’ve always been a bit of a sceptic about meditation, with an anxious mind constantly buzzing with ideas. Listening to David’s soothing voice as he talked us through how to meditate was incredibly calming for me. Following the meditation people shared the different experiences they’d had, from my own disbelief that time had passed so quickly, through to immense relaxation and even frustration at being still for so long. Meditation now seems a lot less scary and more valuable!
When Jacqui shared case studies from organisations that are successfully using mindfulness I’d expected to hear about Google. Instead she told us about the US Marines! She then went on to tell us more about the structure of courses and programs Namaste are now working with Cambridge Network to provide. All of them have been tested by a range of organisations and are tailored to needs of individuals to maximise benefits for the group.
Following the session there was a chance to chat over more coffee. By this time everyone knew each other better and discussion of the topic was animated. The general consensus was that the anxiety busting, stress managing reputation of mindfulness now made a lot more sense and that the business benefits of Namaste’s workplace specific courses seems incredibly valuable.
I can’t wait to see the impact of having the courses up and running soon. Before that Jacqui will be back for another breakfast networking on 7th June, this time on “Admitting the Possibilities of Error at Work!” Hope to see you there.
Written by Julia Wix