Are you feeling frustrated because the meetings you attend are long and end with no clear outcomes? Research suggests a meeting with mindfulness creates a more efficient and successful meeting.
Mindfulness is not just a corporate trend, but a proven method for success. Mindfulness – being focused and fully present in the here and now – is good for individuals and good for business. Taking the time to practice mindfulness, whether it is simply taking a few deep breaths, or actual meditation has been shown to alter the structures and function of the brain, which allows you to learn, acquire new abilities, and improve memory.
Mindful meetings are being aware of the ‘now’ and create the opportunity for participants to be engaged, effective, and focused on the priorities of the meeting. This mindset creates an environment for exploration of new ideas and different perspectives.
Steps you can take to lead a mindful meeting:
- When planning the meeting, do your best to create a comfortable environment:
- Meet in an area with enough space for everyone to fit comfortably.
- Do what you can to ensure the room is not too hot or cold.
- Remind everyone to bring a beverage.
- Start each meeting with a pause. Ask each participant to take a moment to notice where they are and their current mental state. This will prompt them to bring their attention to the present moment. Moods are contagious, taking time to pause will allow participants a chance to breathe, regroup, recharge, and reset. Recognize where everyone is with compassion. A best practice for a starting a mindful meeting:
- Start the meeting by having participants close their eyes and take two – five minutes to just breathe. During this time ask individuals to let go of unneeded thoughts and to bring themselves completely into the meeting room.
- Share the intentions of the meeting, include intentions that go beyond the meeting. End the meeting with answers to the following questions:
- What have we decided here today?
- Who is going to do what, by when?
- How will we resolve the issues that are still open?
- What is likely to get in the way of us implementing what we agreed to today and how will we handle it?
- Ask participants to truly listen and participate in the meeting with curiosity, appreciation, or contribution. Encourage everyone to have their say, bring a different perspective, and support openness. This will prevent groupthink.
- Meet face to face, which provides a powerful sense of connection. If face to face is not feasible – use video conferencing, this will help participants see expressions and connect with each other on an emotional level.
- Respect the fact people have a limited attention span – keep meetings brief and to the point with breaks when necessary.
- Give the gift of time – end meetings a couple of minutes early.
By bringing just a bit more mindfulness to your meetings, you can take what most people consider the most painful part of their day and turn it into a highly productive, even enjoyable experience.
Breathe and be mindful.
Stop! Where are you? Where are your thoughts at this very moment? Are you trying to quickly read this post so you can check it off your ‘to do’ list and move on to your next task? Is your mind filled with activities you need to do? Are you thinking of emails or phone calls waiting for your reply? People you need to connect with? Or have these questions reminded you of tasks you need to complete? Are you caught up in the culture of ‘Hurry, I need to finish this task and move to the next!’? Take a moment, pause and take a deep breath. Yes, take a deep breath now. Breathe in slowly and deeply. Exhale slowly and completely. One more time. This time as you breathe in, focus on centering your mind, let the chatter in your mind float away. Be still in the moment. As you exhale experience the sensations of your body and your surroundings. One more round; while you slowly breathe in experience your current feelings, sounds, and surroundings. Be present in the moment, this current moment. Slowly exhale. Being mindful in the moment takes practice, the benefits are substantial. You will feel calmer, centered, and will experience a deeper sense of the moment. Your family, friends, and peers will also appreciate your mindfulness and the benefits it brings to them. Research shows clearing away distractions and living in the moment can alter the structure and function of the brain. Over the next couple of weeks raise the bar with being fully present during your daily activities. Take time to check in with yourself, being mindful of moments. Be truly present while you drive your family members to their activities, listening to and participating in the chatter taking place in the car. Be mindful during meetings, experience the verbal and non-verbal cues of your peers provide. Truly listen and experience what your peers are saying and doing. Step out of your comfort zone with mindfulness – slowly and deeply breathe in, now slowly and completely breathe out, one more time, deep inhale . . . full exhale. How do you feel? Do you feel more relaxed? Grounded in your thoughts? At peace with yourself? You have control of your mindfulness at any given time, where ever you want. The journey to mindfulness is yours! Enjoy your journey! All the best!