There’s no time like the present to lead with mindfulness

On November 21, 2015, I was honoured to present on the value of mindfulness meditation in the workplace at the Toastmasters District 96 Fall Conference.  Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines this practice as “moment-by-moment non-judgemental awareness, cultivated by purposely paying attention in the moment” – and it has transformed the way I perceive group dynamics, attentiveness, and productivity.  Just as with anything in life, only practice turns new perception into sustained behaviour.  Practicing in a supportive group environment accelerates the results and fuels our commitment to ourselves and the people we interact with, which is why it is so powerful in the workplace.  Plus, it’s startling to notice how our brains start to unconsciously (or mindfully?) synch together in a shared experience.  My presentation slides and reference materials are available at the end of this blog.

Two years ago, my friend and colleague Jeremy Plotkin started a mindfulness meditation practice at our workplace, Metro Vancouver.  He was so worried that only a handful of people would show up to an introductory presentation to be delivered by the delightful Patricia Galaczy.  I tried to reassure him that at least our buddies from the yoga class I teach at work would show up, but oh, were we ever surprised!  The Metro Vancouver boardroom fits over 100 people, and every seat was occupied for Patricia’s presentation.  People who attended still chuckle or gag about the mindfulness exercise with the raisin that Patricia lead us through.

Luckily, we never repeated the raisin meditation.  Instead, Jeremy started a weekly sitting or walking meditation practice at lunchtime with the support of our Human Resources’ employee wellness program.  Drawing from his years of experience, he wisely encouraged our group of total beginners and seasoned meditators to start off with a 5-minute meditation and 45 minutes for ice breakers, questions, and discussion.  At the start of each session, experienced meditators in the group shared excerpts from books, magazine articles, and podcasts by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, and other inspiring sources.  Sometimes, we followed an online guided mindfulness or body scan meditation.  Group members now take turns hosting the weekly sessions.  Over time, our sessions have shifted to about 25-27 minutes of meditation (each additional minute can feel like a lifetime!) and brief reflections on our individual and collective experiences.

My colleagues and I are committed to our mindfulness meditation practice, because we experience the following benefits.  This list wasn’t taken from a research paper, though the similarities with the literature are remarkable.  Check out the resources linked in this blog, try mindfulness meditation and its benefits, and share with your colleagues too!

physical health

mental health


impulse control

life satisfaction


reduced reactivity

improved listening

improved conflict resolution

improved relationships


Let your light and others’ light shine through, moment by moment!

Mindfulness – Toastmasters Nov 2015


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