The Mindful Workweek- How it started.
My first taste of mindfulness at work came when I volunteered at a meditation retreat, called Vipassana which taught the teachings of Buddha via SN Goenka back in 2000.
As a Dhamma Server you learn the art of selfless service. By selflessly serving others we are dissolving the habit of egotism. While working you agree to abstain from killing any being (including bugs), refrain from stealing, and abstain from sexual conduct, wrong speech (like tall stories), and intoxicants.
Your role is to serve conscientiously without wasting time, and by giving full attention to your work. You meditate for three hours per day. Men and women are separated where possible, and when working together are discouraged from interacting socially. There is also no physical contact (e.g. shaking hands), no speaking about other people, you are to wear modest clothing which avoids any undue attention, and food is vegetarian.
What I learned during this time is how to work without distraction, focussing on the good of others, being mindful of self and a purpose that is greater than yourself (helping the meditation students have the best possible retreat).
Bringing these concepts into the work environment isn’t easy.
For instance, everyone lies. We all wish to create a favourable impression of ourselves in other’s minds and in our own. We are all tempted to gossip about others at some point. There’s an instinct in us all to look externally and blame others when things go wrong. Or to lash out rather than seek to understand behaviour that doesn’t align with our expectations.
When I first started meditating about 20 years ago, I separated work from what I identified as a spiritual practice. I would never expect to be discussing my meditation practice with others openly in a business environment. Sharing the lessons from my semi-annual retreats was avoided because I worried I’d be put in the “herbal” or “too hippy and out there” box and not taken seriously.
That’s all changed.
CEO’s, politicians, and leaders of industry are now embracing mindfulness as a practical way of life. We understand the need to search inside of ourselves for answers, and to respond rather than react.
There’s a lot of discussion about the benefits of mindfulness to all areas of our lives. I get a little frustrated though, that there is little discussion about what mindfulness actually is, and how to practice mindfulness.
More than that, integrating mindfulness with work practices can be challenging.
The Mindful Workweek seeks to change this. It’s about using practical interventions to help us gain greater control over our work to allow ourselves the space we need to be mindful. It’s also about creating authenticity for ourselves through present moment awareness and accepting our reality as it is.
I’m writing a book at the moment by the same title of this blog “The Mindful Workweek” and I’m using this blog to share some of the thinking from the book in the lead up to its publishing.
I’m also the Director of a Productivity Consultancy (www.pacexecutive.com) and I’m a Productivity Coach. If you’d like to engage me for a speaking gig, or workshop for your team you can email me Cholena.Orr@pacexecutive.com or call me +61418789877.
Over the course of the next six months, I will introduce new and old thinking. Simple ideas and frameworks to help you be both happy and productive at work and at home.
Please let me know how you go. How you put these ideas into practice. Email me Cholena.Orr@pacexecutive.com, tweet me, connect with me on LinkedIn, or jump on my Facebook page to let me know how you’re going.