Guest contribution from Dr. Geoffrey Soloway
Last year, UBC HR launched an exciting six-week Mindfulness@Work program for UBC faculty and staff. The response was overwhelmingly positive as four programs ran from March through June. After going through the program, one participant said “I am happier and empowered to deal with difficult situations. I am now better able to let things go.” Mindfulness@Work is back, with MindWell Canada offering another round of programs beginning April 2015.
What is Mindfullness?
From the Globe and Mail to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal; and even the February, 2014, cover of TIME magazine, mindfulness is everywhere. But it is not new – mindfulness, a systematic training of the attention, is rooted in wisdom traditions more than 2,500 years old. Today mindfulness is being taught in modern settings with an evidence base rooted in neuroscience. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, we learn to respond skillfully to whatever is happening right now, be that good or bad.
This evidenced-based training of the attention has become a crucial skill for those hoping to succeed in an increasingly frenetic, multitasking and connected environment because it allows them to slow down and focus on the task at hand. As Bill George from Harvard Business School says, “leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. It also enables them to be less reactive to stress, more compassionate, and better equipped to approach challenging issues.”
Mindfulness@Work consists of a six-week program with a two-hour session once a week, as well as a four-hour silent mini-retreat between weeks four and five. Modeled off the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR; Kabat-Zinn, 1990), the program consists of mindfulness practices including mindful breathing, movement, eating, and loving kindness, as well as applications in the workplace such as communication and conflict.
As part of the Mindfulness@Work offering in 2014, Dr. Daniel Skarlicki, UBC professor in the Sauder School of Business, and his team conducted a research study with UBC participants. Results from the study showed:
- Mindfulness@Work training program significantly increased participants’ overall levels of mindfulness and creativity.
- The training had a significant impact on interpersonal conflict style. Specifically, as compared to those in the control group, trained participants were less likely to report feeling powerless and withdraw from conflict situations.
- Participants in the training showed significant improvements in emotion regulation as a result of the training, which was found to mediate the effect of the training on interpersonal conflict style change.
UBC staff and faculty who went through the 2014 Mindfulness@Work program reported:
- “I have been able to stay relatively calm in a crisis situation.”
- “I am no longer being too quick in responding to emails; instead I am really thinking things through.”
- “I had a terrible relationship with a co-worker who was under my supervision. By not reacting, my role became clearer to me, and I was able to invite her to cultivate joy at work. I am happy to see that there is no more tension between us, even though there are problems to solve in the project.”
- “Mindful listening and speaking helps to sort out conflict, not just between two people but in also in relation to the work. Seeing a larger picture and not letting emotions take over the task, makes the task easier, and leads to better outcomes.”
Registration for the six-week program will take place at the Orientation on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 12:00-1:00pm. (Sign up here).
The Orientation is free and will provide a comprehensive overview of the program. There will be two programs running in April/May 2015.
Mindfulness@Work Program 1 will run from 9:00-11:00am on:
- April 1, 8, 15
- April 20, 27
- April 25 (10am-2pm)
- May 4
Mindfulness@Work Program 2 will run from 2:00-4:00 pm on:
- Wed April 1, 8, 15
- Mon April 20, 27
- Saturday April 25 (10am-2pm)
- Mon May 4
MindWell Canada is a leader in helping people integrate mindfulness into their personal and professional lives, by working with executives, athletes, health care professionals and teachers helping them create a more joyful, less stressful and more connected career and life. MWC has a network of partners around the world and has worked with companies and organizations throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Geoffrey Soloway has been working in the area of health promotion, mindfulness and wellbeing for over 12 years. Geoff completed a PhD on Mindfulness at OISE of the University of Toronto, as well as a Master’s of Education on Holistic Education. Geoff has worked as an Instructor at the University of Toronto, teaching in the area of Stress Reduction, Health Promotion and Enabling Learning as well as offering Mindfulness-based workshops and programs with human service professionals in the workplace. Geoff has also worked as Health & Wellness Specialist within Human Resources at University of British Columbia focusing on faculty wellbeing and developing new mindfulness programming. Geoff is also an Organizational Coach, completing his certification through the University of British Columbia. Currently, Geoff is a Partner MindWell Canada, and Instructor for UBC Continuing Studies.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Random House.