A Virtual Mindfulness Course

This client is a mid-size technology to startup on a stellar growth trajectory. Their headcount increased by a factor of four in 2020 and continues to rise very speedily. They are the world’s most sought-after provider of their specialised service and are highly rated by their own employees for the flatness of their organisational structure and the freedom they afford their super-bright, self-motivated and highly collaborative employees.

With a staff dispersed around the world, they are fully at home in virtual environments.

But even when you’re smart and super-connected around projects with colleagues, lockdowns and pandemics are tough and employees began, in different ways, to feel the stress of that. A group of them asked if the company could put on a mindfulness course to help. They got in touch with us and after a few calls where we discussed the kinds of programmes we typically deliver in organisations like theirs, they settled on a format of eight weekly virtual sessions of 75-minutes each led by Michael.

Twenty-one employees located in several different time-zones signed up.

The sessions were conducted over Zoom.

This is a group very at home in virtual meetings. They kept their cameras on, occasionally and good-naturedly teased one another in the chat, and generally remained engaged through the process.

As is very often the case, the biggest challenge for the participants was actually doing the prescribed home practice of 20-minutes a day. Some reported that despite best intentions simply getting started was the challenge. Others spoke of the discomfort of being asked to focus on a simple meditation practice distractedly for 10, 15 or 20 minutes at a time.

Not untypically amongst knowledge workers, this was a group of people whose success in life to date has been driven by their unusually high capacity for clear and continuous abstract thought. With a few exceptions they were unused to coming away from that constant inner dialogue and paying attention to, say, their body sensations for just 10-minutes. Over and over, with a gentle, encouraging persistence, Michael made and remade the case that it’s not always easy or comfortable to change deep-rooted habits of mind and behaviour. 

Gradually, over time (and sometimes that took many weeks) participants came to value the process. It  was especially helpful that each session of the course included at least one small group breakout session where participants got to learn about each others’ struggles with the process. Knowing that such struggles are normal helped.

Attendance was steady throughout the course, dropping slightly as weeks went by. 

Feedback after the course was excellent, respondents rating their satisfaction with it on average at 91%.

Comments included:

“I learned a lot about how to observe and manage my thoughts.”

It is important to take time to meditate, especially in times when it feels like the last thing someone could ‘waste their time on’. Just sit on your little cushion, and the world will be a better place.”

“Supporting mindfulness practice is critical for overall health and productivity in a fast growing company like ours.”

 

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