Mindfulness session @ Play4Agile 2017

Thoughts and sharings on mindfulness

Feb 20
Mindfulness session @ Play4Agile 2017 Cosima Laube

(picture credits: FreeImages.com/Leandro Cavinatto, license: Freeimages.com Content License)

At Play4Agile in 2017 (#p4a17 for short) there was a great Open Space Session on Mindfulness. Bettina Ruggeri and Armin Schubert initiated the session and there were a lot of other people contributing to it. The main question first was to collect exercises that help bringing mindfulness into a company. We then quickly resulted in exchanging thoughts and information what mindfulness is all about. With this blogpost I'll do three different things:

  1. Provide a short (subjective) summary of what I kept in mind from the session
  2. Share my introductory talk on Mindfulness for people in tech jobs
  3. Mix-in some pieces of information I collected during the last months of working on my thesis on Mindful leadership

Bits & pieces... and a success story

For instance we clarified that meditation is a form of practising mindfulness. Other forms could be running or (mindfully) doing sports in general. There is also mindful body work like yoga, mindful walking & moving in general and of course breathing exercises.

Markus Wittwer shared his article on Mindfulness and Search Inside Yourself (SIY) in Business Technology Magazine. Markus also initially re-sparked my personal interest for Mindfulness with his talk at W-JAX 2015 on SIY. In 2014 I attended a 8 week MBSR (Mindfulness based stress reduction) course which metaphorically spoken planted the seed & Markus' talk in 2015 served as water and sun for that seed to start growing.

Armin shared a film recommendation for From Business To Being with us. He had the pleasure to attend a special preview with some of the main actors being present and he blogged about that on the emendare company blog (German).

Concerning the central question that initiated the session was like "how can I bring mindfulness to my company / offer mindfulness in a way that people feel invited to 'take' it?" Armin shared a story of one team he currently coaches. Short before Armin came to #p4a17 his team experienced a rather tough time and so he felt a mindful meditation could help. Armin reserved a meeting room to have a private space for them and factilitated one first mindful session for them. He did it without big upfront preparation and the session obviously 'set the spark' in the team: they asked him to offer a second session remotely (from #p4a17) and Armin provided the team with some links/apps for inspiration. With that the team ran their first self-organized mindful meditation session. To me this is so amazing!

We also collected some notes which I may link or add here. #p4a17 folks: ping me via mail or using Twitter.

Mindfulness & emotional intelligence for people in tech

Last year in April I had my first conference 'gig' ever where I did an introductory talk on mindfulness and emotional intelligence at MATHEMA Campus in Erlangen. Unfortunately there is no permanent link to the talk on the MATHEMA webpage, so I share the talk description and my original slides here. The material is in German as it is a German conference. But: I'll update the material in summer 2017 to make it internationally applicable and also to include a lot more interaction to help future participants better 'digest' the theoretical input as well as one or two more mindful exercises.

Talk description (German)

Achtsam, was? Allerspätestens, wenn man dann den Begriff „Emotionale Intelligenz“ fallen lässt, schauen Software-Entwickler einen gerne schräg an. Dieses „weiche Zeug“ in unserem technischen Geschäft? Aber auch Projektleiter reagieren erstmal skeptisch. Von der Maslowschen Bedürfnispyramide hat man ja vielleicht schon mal etwas gehört. Doch Achtsamkeit und Emotionale Intelligenz? Das ist jetzt doch wirklich eher was für die private Ecke: Entspannung, Runterkommen und so. Wir sind doch hier im „harten Business“! Doch ist das wirklich so? Selbst Google bietet bereits mit „Search Inside Yourself“ ein eigenes Programm zu genau diesen Themen für seine (technischen) Mitarbeiter an. Ist da dann vielleicht doch etwas dran? Der Vortrag gibt einen Einblick in die Themen Achtsamkeit und Emotionale Intelligenz und zeigt vor allem auf, was dieser „Werkzeugkasten“ gerade uns Technikern bringen kann: bei der Arbeit, für die Arbeit – und natürlich auch privat.

Slides
Here is the PDF
Note: on slide 25 I did a short 3 minutes version of the raisin exercise with the participants. I motivated the beginner's mindset which is crucial for mindfulness by imagining people being an alien not knowing these small, wizen, brown, sweet pieces.

Two sketches on Mindfulness

Mindfulness mainly is all about focus, i.e. directing attention and being aware of that. When practicing regularly one will develop a broader 'window' of perceptions, sensations & emotions as well as thoughts which results in having more options at hand to act & react. In short mindfulness is about: less 'autopilot' & more choices. Having no expectations when doing or facilitating mindful exercises is crucial; having expectations narrows your focus which is totally contradictory to a "broader view".

For my OOP2017 talk I created two graphics inspired by the German book on Positive Psychology by Daniela Blickhan. These sketches show the "standard" autopilot as well as the enhanced functioning:

Autopilot

Autopilot
translation notes: Umwelt = environment/perceptions, Verhalten = behaviour

Mindful

Mindful attention
translation notes: Umwelt = environment/perceptions, Gefühle = feelings/emotions/sensations, Gedanken = thoughts/experiences, autonome Entscheidungen = autonomous decisions, Verhalten = behaviour

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