Steve Jobs, Mark Benioff, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Gweneth Paltrow and Rupert Murdoch. What do all these CEOs, celebrities and influential business leaders have in common?
They all practice mindfulness and swear by its practices to make them happier, more productive and more efficient at what they do. Mindfulness is it seems, becoming increasingly popular with businesses, could it work for your business too?
When a coaching friend of mine started talking about mindfulness, I glazed over, I didn’t even know what it was, let alone know how to achieve it. Turns out I do it all the time, who knew?
Google was my first port of call, who define it as ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment’. I understood that, we have have all benefitted from concentrating on an activity so intently that is clears your mind of everything else.
As it happens, Google has used an internal mindfulness programme called Search Inside Yourself since 2007, and it has walking meditations and ‘mindful lunches’ to focus its employees’ minds. eBay and The Huffington Post’s offices have dedicated meditation rooms for employees. But that’s America, that is what we expect…
… but hang on a union flag flying moment, The Bank of England has been running meditation sessions for its staff as part of a series of ‘working life seminars’. Over 50 MPs in parliament have tried out weekly mindfulness sessions. Even the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills holds free voluntary meditation classes each week at lunchtimes, at no cost to the staff or department. Like many trends before it, mindfulness for business has hopped across the pond…
So how can we achieve mindfulness and use it to improve the wellbeing of our employees? It turns out one of the best ways, is through art. Drawing and painting have long known to be therapeutic and transport the exponent to a better, calmer, more pleasurable place. Immersing yourself in an artistic activity tunes out the left brain, the logical, rational side and allows the right brain, the artist within, to shine through.
Now I was beginning to get it. As someone who spends a good deal of time painting myself and encouraging others to do the same, I know that at first it seems difficult, we are all encouraged to be left brain dominant. Delegates on my courses will complain they can’t draw, or that they can’t find the right colour/brush/pen. But after a few minutes of actually paying attention to the feel of the brush, the smell of paint and the blending of colours together in pursuit of the perfect blue or red, something shifts. Complaints are replaced with looks of concentration and smiles of satisfaction .We lose track of time and our surroundings and there are no thoughts apart from what’s happening in the present….Mindfulness.
“You have made us all look really talented.” said one my delegates on the reveal of the finished painting to the group. The excitement and sense of achievement was palpable in the room. Six months on that company have their work displayed proudly in their Head Office, a lasting reminder of what an afternoon of mindfulness has done for them.
Charlotte Designs offer a wide range of art opportunities, either regular art sessions or one off workshops that form part of a larger team building exercise. We can tailor the sessions to fit in with your corporate goals and the outcome to reflect your mission or branding. Unlike many team building activities, art is suitable for all ages and abilities and provides a level playing field for all staff. They can be held on or off site and need no special equipment or facilities.