This week has been a week of two halves. I was working the first two days in my ‘day job’, then my mid-week day off but I actually attended a meeting associated with work, and the second half of the week with study days. I have had a rich experience providing me with much to reflect on. I also had a meeting with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while for a chat.
Meetings are part of work life but are also a part of all aspects of our lives. We have meetings at home to discuss day to day life, and meetings associated with our hobbies and interests. In fact, every interaction with someone else is a meeting, so the same mindful principles can be applied to all these situations. Many people abhor organised meetings, however, their disdain for them perhaps is more about how they interact with the meeting and how the meeting is run.
Recurring meetings are perhaps the type that can turn more unproductive but are needed regularly to fulfill a function. If it is to provide communication then an email would be more productive. If the purpose is to have a discourse and debate then meeting in person to hear others is surely the main prerequisite. Whether to have the meeting is your choice or not, you can, however, make a suggestion. What is the worst thing that can happen? Others will probably agree with you!
Notice how well planned meetings run. Prior reading should be sent a reasonable time ahead. Set aside specific time to read it, rather than on the hoof. It is as important as the meeting itself.
Approaching a meeting or on arrival, spending a mindful minute or two with a breathing exercise enables you to regain the present. We’re often rushing around and arriving late & breathless can take the whole meeting time to catch your mental breath. A lack of true focus leads to frustration. and will be picked upon by others at the meeting. A minute of a breathing exercise will get you back to the mindful zone and leads to a far more productive use of your time and co-production with the other meeting members.
Noticing is a skill that enables the positive feedback of self-compassion. Running late can lead to the mind running in an alternate reality future where only negatives exist. Physiological responses & stress hormones then kick in. Noticing captures this as it starts & brings one back to the present. A simple apology to the chair or meeting leader is all it will take. Take a seat. A mindful breath again and the meeting is running again with yourself truly present.
A particularly nice touch at the beginning of meetings when introductions are made is to enable a check in allowing people to express how they’re feeling. It helps others understand better your contribution and you there’s.
Yesterday I noticed my mind wandering and off it went into a negative reality of a recalled event last week. Having now had some practice in mindfulness I noticed I noticed! And with a deep breath & with skills from the body scan I was quickly back in the present.
Kabat-Zinn has described mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” So a key skill, particularly for the chair, is to keep everyone that way!
This morning I’m on the early train to London. I’ve been fortunate to see some beautiful views of the countryside in early spring. Sun is shining. I knew but have re-noticed the number of canals that follow railway lines. Actually, it’s the other way round as the canals were built first!
At the end of each meeting, take a moment. What are you grateful for now that came from you time at the meeting. What is the legacy that will last for you? Add it to your gratitude log for today. I hope you can add the time spent reading my blog to yours.
PS Weight is now 81.7kg