Creating a Culture of Working Mindfully: 2020 Report 

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Community Sourced Best Practices and Insights
Created from the Mindful Leader & Garrison Institute 2019 Unretreat

Introduction: What is Mindfulness and What Does it Look Like in the Workplace?

Definitions of mindfulness vary considerably. The traditional and most widely accepted definition is perhaps one which was put forth by Jon Kabat-Zinn, MIT Professor and creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), who defines mindfulness as: 

Paying attention on purpose in a particular way and non-judgmentally moment to moment. 

Some more expansive definitions of mindfulness suggest that it encourages kindness, compassion, and emotional well-being, while other more strict definitions view these as collateral benefits but not necessarily a direct result of mindfulness practice. 

What is certain is that mindfulness is a state that can be cultivated through a variety of practices including meditation, yoga, breath work, and embodied movement. The potential benefits of mindfulness practices are many, including an increased ability to focus, relaxation and stress reduction, and improved mental coherence - which is the capacity to use various parts of the brain in concert with one another. 

Unfortunately, mindfulness and other forms of wellness practices are often understood to be something that happens outside the workplace. Employees are encouraged to meditate, do yoga, whatever they need to do to take care of themselves- as long as they do it on their own time. 

And yet, there is a growing number of people, sometimes collectively referred to as the mindfulness movement, who are exploring the potential benefits of bringing mindfulness into the workplace. Proponents contend that mindful workers, teams, and organizations function differently - productivity levels often increase as stress levels drop, communication becomes more effective, and collaboration gets easier. But while incorporating mindfulness practices into the workday sounds like an ideal way to address many of the challenges common to a variety of different organizations, in practice- shifting a team or and organization toward a more mindful way of working is anything but easy. So what does it take to create a culture of mindfulness at work? 

This was the central question of the August 14th-16th, 2019 unretreat Creating a Culture of Mindfulness at Work: Coaches, Consultants and Internal Champions, which was held at the Garrison Institute in partnership with Mindful Leader. 

The unretreat participants were mindfulness leaders from a variety of fields – business, consulting, healthcare, education, wellness, to name a few. This group of professionals came together with the intention to create a safe space where they could engage in dialogue and inquiry, share experience and expertise, and work together toward innovation and new strategies for success. Rather than have a predetermined set of presenters disseminate information to an audience, the unretreat format enabled the participants to select topics for discussion, break into smaller groups before reconvening for presentations which in turn stimulated further discussion. 

This report is a written overview of the topics that were addressed during the unretreat and summary of the key insights and points of consensus arrived upon throughout the program. 

The Garrison Institute and Mindful Leader offer this report as a contribution to the ever-growing body of wisdom in support of the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace, and as a collection of best practices to consider toward a successful creation and implementation of a workplace mindfulness program. 

Click here to download the PDF: CREATING A CULTURE OF WORKING MINDFULLY_ 2020 REPORT.pdf

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