Practising mindfulness during a meeting at work doesn’t mean getting up on the table, assuming the lotus position and chanting ‘OM.’
You can be mindful at a meeting without anybody else knowing.
Why bother? Because a meeting is more than a meeting. It can also be an exercise in power or manipulation or preening or sucking up or self-promotion or shifting one’s work onto other people’s shoulders.
Maintaining presence of mind and clear thinking in such a situation is both an advantage and a survival skill and mindfulness can help help you do just that.
Before: Before a meeting you’re anxious about, use the 7/11 technique – breathe in to a count of seven and out to a count of eleven. Focussing on counting as well as breathing leaves less space for the sort of thinking that can escalate anxiety. Note that you are not trying to get rid of anxiety: you’re accepting a certain level of anxiety but without ramping it up with exaggerated mental dramas.
During: During the meeting, keep ten per cent of your awareness on your breath or your posture. This gives you some mental space in which to calmly assess what’s going on. It also helps you to notice if you’re getting all het up – the feeling may or may not be helpful but noticing the emotions that are driving you will allow you to make better choices.
After: Afterwards you can use techniques such as 7/11 to help you move on smoothly to whatever’s next without constantly re-running the the annoying parts of the meeting in your head. If the memories are intruding anyway, try this old meditation technique: silently label the memory with the word ‘thinking’ and then move back into awareness of the present moment. Do this as often as you need to.
We are condemned to spending much of our working lives at meetings – mindfulness can get you through the good, the bad and the ugly in better shape.
I have used mindfulness already at busy, intense staff meetings at my school. When I feel the pressure rising, I return to my breath and tell myself 3 things that are lovely in my life. It breaks that ladder of mounting pressure
That’s a great way to break the spiral of tension Karen. People get very stressed out sometimes by meetings and the stress doesn’t usually add anything to what needs to be done next so far as I can see. (Sorry it took me so long to reply).
Yes, I practice mindfulness before going to a meeting and before taking students for counselling . It helps me to listen clearly to what is being said and to be aware of any other dynamic taking place. It gives me a certain detachment that helps to keep emotions at bay. I worry far less after the events.
I used to do this myself before union meetings in The Irish Times, Mary! I found it steadied the ship so to speak … as regards counselling, those counsellors who do a little mindfulness before sessions find it helpful in a practical sense in terms of how they approach that session. (Sorry it took me so long to reply).