The Institute for Mindfulness understands mindfulness as a practice, a skill, and an attitude that allows us to connect with and be aware of our present moment experience. By cultivating mindfulness, we learn to be present and, even more importantly, we learn to see how we are present. This very fine skill not only sharpens our awareness of ourselves and others, but also allows us to recognize and step out of unhelpful mind states (e.g. rumination) and reactive behavioural patterns. We are no longer mindlessly driven by our thoughts and emotions. Bringing both focused attention and broad awareness to actual experience can have a tremendous impact on how we relate to other people and to ourselves. Stepping out of habitual views and reactions enables us to get back into the driver seat, with a stance of openness, curiosity and compassion, in moments when we feel distressed and overwhelmed. We allow and explore a variety of perspectives in diverse situations, we resonate with other peoples’ minds and hearts, and by connecting we see and understand the larger picture and access more choices, creating possibilities for wise decisions.
Individual and organizational mindfulness
The individual’s and the collective’s mindful awareness is interdependently cultivated. Both have a general movement toward intimate detachment by participating in receptive clear seeing. While mindfulness is a trait that all of us already have to a certain extent, it can be trained, strengthened and refined. One of the most efficient methods to develop mindfulness is through meditation where we systematically practice to
- focus and regulate our attention,
- be aware of what is happening inside and around us and of our attitude towards it
- relate to our experience in a new and different way by bringing a quality of curiosity, openness, and acceptance to it.
Mindfulness can be brought to any organizational action and process, in project groups, meetings, workshops, reorganization and strategy processes. Groups learn to pause, to step out of mindlessness and habitual stances, to connect with different perspectives, to bring mindful awareness to one’s own and to the others’ experiences, to co-create arising future possibilities, and to explore solutions and decisions. Consulting and facilitating with the attitude and the methodologies according to the principles of Mindfulness-Based Organizational Development as we have developed them supports organizations in reducing mindlessness and fostering collective mindful attention and self-organization.
Principles of mindful organizing
Mindful organizations balance
- the doing and being mode: bringing appreciative metacognition to both problem-solving activity and uninvolved receptivity;
- the paradox of both the fluid and the stable qualities of experience by establishing a spacious awareness that allows for the de-identified perception of surprises and risks;
- the need to know and control and the skill to relax into not knowing and allowing to happen;
- the striving for excellence and faultlessness and the permission to err and make mistakes, reflecting continuously on experiences made, and sharing lessons learnt in community;
- the urge to be a separate owner of ideas and positions and the interlinked felt sense of not being separate but an equal part of the whole;
- the habitual mind patterns to avoid the unpleasant or unfamiliar and the choice to deliberately turn toward any new experience;
- the negative thoughts, moods, and constructions of self and others and the intention to seeing the good in self and others;
- the pressure of time limits within the doing mode and the explicit allowing for time to process and being mindful in meetings, decision-making, discourses, and change processes;
- the impulse to react out of negative states of mind and the mindful holding of hidden motives and patterns;
- cognitive experience and embodied experience;
- the mono-causal, self-invested view and the contextual views of many.