I start this by saying right up front that I am not someone who has ever sat in a meditative state listening to whale songs, while my body is twisted into a yoga pretzel; I tried Pilates for a whole year on my physios recommendation and hated every single minute of it, I know some people love it and find it a way to Zen out and build muscle all at the same time, but that is not me. Here, I am writing an article about mindfulness!

This is a pragmatic and realistic perspective on mindfulness and the possibility of learning from personal mindfulness to thinking about mindful cultures.

“Mindfulness, paying attention to something, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally,” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003)

Mindfulness doesn’t mean sitting in a lotus position, dreaming through a guided meditation, sitting under a waterfall, or attending a retreat in the forest, living off detox juice and doing yoga…

Mindfulness, to me, is as simple as taking a moment to deliberately acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, body and environment without judgment.  That sudden moment of clarity that flicks across your mind makes you reassess your situation. It is the tiny chance you give yourself to step back and think about the decision you have made in your head that you are about to announce to the world. It is that opportunity to look inside and around you with curiosity and an open mind, the moment that gives you the opportunity to make a choice to make things better.

What if we could build a mindful work culture? What if we could build into the structures and rhythms of an organisation the opportunity for everyone to have that insightful moment of clarity, a moment in time to step back and look at that decision you are about to announce, and build that as an opportunity to take a really honest look at what is happening from a different perspective? A mindful work culture that values insights and understands they come from wide and varied perspectives, not in hindsight but in the everyday.


Mindful culture review

I see the work that we do at Mwah as exactly that. When we walk into an organisation and start to have a purposeful, open-minded look around, in a completely nonjudgmental way, we pay deep attention to the way that relationships, systems, and structures interact as it appears in the present moment. A mwah. Culture review looks at the wide and varied perspectives from the culture, builds insights and awareness of how they all fit together, creating a picture that leaders can use to start to raise their awareness of and pay attention to, the automated way the culture and the individuals who own it, get things done.

Building a trait of mindfulness into a culture means taking an opportunity to mindfully raise your awareness of the present situation and create an understanding of where you are now. It focuses attention on creating choices and actions that improve the current state. Assessing how those actions and choices are made will help build new habits, which can’t help but spread, leading to a culture where moments of mindfulness are built-in and expected.


Autonomous processes; How we do thing round here

A mindful culture raises awareness of automotive processes and builds an enduring characteristic of habitual thought-action sequences, creating a window in which automatic responses can be disrupted. It highlights choice points and insights that can actually increase performance. A Culture Review is a mindful look at the present moment – how we do things around here. A mindful culture takes that look and does something meaningful with it.

A mindful culture understands that different people and situations require different things. So, for those who love guided meditation and exploring the waterfall and forest of their mind, you do you. For those who don’t, it’s time to reframe your definition of mindfulness to the process it really is: a gritty, honest, and hard look at yourself to get better for tomorrow and for those around you.