I was fortunate to be a part of the Workstock team at this year’s Workplace Trends conference. Workstock is a ‘pop up’ event within an event. It’s the brainchild of Neil Usher and this year – Workstock was a series of pecha kuchas (roller coaster presentations using a fixed format of 20 slides each on screen for 20 seconds), loosely based around wellbeing. Woven around each short presentation was an excellent story about Wilf and his wellbeing journey, told by Neil. My talk was on meditation. I shared with you some of the science I drew on a few days ago, now here is some of the art.
I began by reassuring people this talk was not about tree hugging, kaftans and the like. It took me a long time to overcome my prejudices around meditation, and whilst peace and love are helpful – they’re not compulsory.
Time Stands Still
This talk is as much about presence, about nowness, as it is anything else. I used a lyric from Time Stand Still by Rush, one of my favourite bands to help set the scene. I like the juxtaposition of the band name and the song title.
Time stands still, I’m not looking back but I want to look around me now. Time stands still, see more of the people and the places that surround me now.
Weapons of Mass Distraction
We are so readily and easily distracted that it’s hard to be clear on what’s happening right now – yet that clarity is vital to us in our work.
The Science Bit
I used this picture to tee up some of the physiological measurement I’ve been undertaking on myself, to show the differences of how I am at work, and in other scenarios. Click here to see the data which followed.
When trying something new it’s important to stick at it – often we bail out on a new idea or exploration too soon. When I gave this talk, I was at 275 consecutive days of meditation and counting…
Be Here Now
As I continue to experiment with mediation I find it informs the way I wish to work, and it resonates with my Principles of Work, one of which is about being fully engaged in the process as it emerges.
There are times during meditation when I experience great calm. I expected this, and though I don’t find it that often, when I do it is hugely relaxing and enjoyable.
Something I did not expect to experience through meditation, is a strong sense of my own fragility. In the quiet of my own mind, I observe my own shortcomings more clearly. This experience is proving hugely valuable in helping me think about honesty and kindness.
In my work, I often see blame being apportioned, when taking responsibility and ownership for what happens next is actually far more important and useful. Through my meditation I am learning to observe my own performance much more clearly. This clarity is enabling me to acknowledge where I can improve and state this to my clients. My choice to expose what some might see as a vulnerability, seems to be working as an invitation for others to respond similarly too. This means we are moving from a backward looking sharing of blame, to a forward looking sense of owning and sharing responsibility, and taking action too. When I play these things out initially, people sometimes say to me ‘it sounds like you’re taking this personally’. I reply, ‘Yes, in so far as our conversation enables me to take my share of responsibility, I am both investing in this, and taking it personally.’ If what we do together doesn’t evoke a sense of curiosity and feeling, a sense of connection, then why are we doing it?
I used to think that kindness was basically doing good things for others. I still think that, and there’s more to kindness too. I try to be kind, and sometimes I bear grudges. Sometimes I don’t like other people, often I don’t like me. Jealousy and doubt seem to spin on opposite sides of the coin of reasoning here. I’m learning that I have a hard time being kind to myself, somehow I need to improve the gentle art of letting go.