I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day… I greet my story and hope that I can forget my story during the day, and that I can hear some stories, and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead. Pádraig Ó Tuama
The mind is a whirring, humming, and frantic thing. Over the last year I’ve been growing the Compassion Lab, a program delivered through Freerthinking. At each Compassion Lab workshop, retreat or class I teach mindfulness to Leaders who want to grow compassion at work. I call our sitting practice “saying hello to right now”. This is just one small component of the Compassion Lab but it is always the first moment.
Quietly, a room of inspiring and accomplished leaders settle into their seats, hands resting in their laps, their jaws loosen and their eyes fall shut. With shared intention we follow the routine of a short Loving Kindness Meditation . In ten minutes the meditation will be over and we will deep dive into the science of compassion and its relevance to innovation, high quality and cost effective service delivery. ( You can try a LKM that I have recorded at this link)
Those ten minutes are making the crucial difference. At the end of the first day people tell me they have experienced a ‘flow’ quite unlike anything they have encountered in a training session before. Sometimes people say they feel more alert, refreshed, revived and occasionally someone will tell me the Lab has been ‘life changing’.
Researchers found that practicing 7 weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe. These positive emotions then produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms), which, in turn, predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. ( You can read the research here).
Later in the workshop I ask participants to identify a ‘mindful moment’ in their daily work lives. This consists of discovering something they do each day, regularly, often by rote, but always without thinking about the process or experience of the action.
Eating is a great example of an action we carry out throughout the day where we are often completely unaware of no only what we’re eating but sometimes even unaware that we are eating.
Hand washing is also easy to work with, particularly if you work in a hospitality or healthcare environment where you are required to thoroughly wash your hands multiple times throughout the day. This seemingly mindless task can become a powerful and mindful task simply by agreeing with yourself to stay in the present moment throughout the task. Sometimes people will say to themselves “now I am washing my hands”.
If you are prepared to say hello to the mindful moment you might discover that it is a little door to compassion and attention.
Now I am washing these hands, my hands, thoroughly, and with care. The water is warm and soapy. I am drying my hands. I feel the air running through my fingers as I prepare to be fully present for the next person I greet.
Earlier this month I ran a Compassion Lab Retreat in the Macedon Ranges, Victoria. Last week I was back in Melbourne to run Day One of a 2 day class on Compassionate Leadership. I will run another retreat in August ( Victoria) and September (Adelaide). Workshops and organisation wide Compassion Labs run throughout the year. Perhaps this is a door you might like to open.