Mark has written Chapter Ten, Making Mindfulness Meditation Accessible and Meaningful, in Mindfulness in the Workplace: An Evidence-based Approach to Improving Well-being and Maximising Performance, edited by Margaret Chapman-Clarke, Published by Kogan Page, May 2016.
This book will prove to be a milestone in HR and Management. It is the first book that is written by a group of pioneer mindfulness practitioners that have succeeded in implementing mindfulness programmes in organisations. Mark’s chapter provides an overview of how mindfulness training programmes need to be adapted for the workplace based on his experience in developing the first evidence-informed workplace training courses derived from Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, which is (NICE) approved for use in the NHS. Mark discusses what he has learnt in teaching around thirty courses to staff of CVS Vets, the largest supplier of veterinary services in Europe.
In Chapter 10, Mark deconstructs assumptions behind modern approaches to teaching mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation, he argues, can never be taught with integrity as a value-free intervention to reduce stress, anxiety and depression or to enhance performance at work.
Mark believes that many of problems we face today in society have come about because we fail to realise that what we feel about ourselves cannot be separated from how we feel about others. We have created a false idea of an independent self separate from the rest of society. What actually gives us meaning and purpose is making a positive contribution to those around us, at home, at work and in the communities of which we are part. Mark argues that mindfulness meditation needs to be taught in a way that recognises that we are social beings.
Mindfulness meditation is best taught when it is clearly explained because explanation empowers and imparts confidence. Mysticism is resorted to where there is insufficient knowledge to explain things clearly and creates a sense of imbalance of power between teacher and student. The second major theme in this Chapter describes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching mindfulness meditation as a set of mental and physical body-based skills that have a transformative effect on a social sense of self.
This teaching approach builds on a foundation of feeling confident and at ease with others. As we learn to manage stress in ourselves with mindfulness meditation, we behave differently with others. We don’t feel so threatened. We react less. We are more able to listen, more able to understand where others are coming from and more able to build constructive relationships. As we learn these skills, we understand the way we create ideas about ourselves. We see these ideas about who we are as transitory and so can more easily free ourselves from limiting beliefs that cause frustration, self-criticism and doubt.
How does mindfulness meditation lead to change in organisations? Mindfulness meditation helps us to value the quality of experience and so give greater value to the quality of the relationships we make. This not only creates more resilient and engaged employees but shapes more sustainable patterns of business and a more responsible way of doing business in the wider world.
Mindfulness and systemic change: When people invest more in relationships at work and with stakeholders this results in a change in behaviour. Any organisation wishing to implement mindfulness meditation for its employees needs to recognise that systemic change will take place as a result of this behavioural change. This will mean that management needs to evolve to reflect the way employees invest in long-term strategies, act with a greater sense of autonomy and organise themselves.
Mindfulness in the Workplace (Chapman-Clarke 2013)