Insights at the Edge – Starting a Mindfulness Program at Your Organization
Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today, my guest is Anakha Coman. Anakha is the founder of the Awake at Work Institute, and speaks, teaches, and consults with leaders and organizations worldwide—including the Gates Foundation, Eli Lilly, Nike, and Save the Children. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Anakha and I spoke about what it means to incorporate mindfulness into the workplace, as well as the many benefits of such a program—including a greater sense of ease in the workplace, stimulation of employees’ creativity and the flow of ideas, and even increased productivity. We also talked about the positive effect on workplace culture that such a program can have, the qualities of a mindful leader, the three core principles of the Awake at Work program, and how to take the first steps to start a mindfulness program at your own place of employment.
Anakha, we’re at a new time—you could say—in our culture where something like meditation—mindfulness—is now being introduced in organizations. People are even calling it”a revolution”—a mindfulness revolution. In business, of all things!
So, I’d love to know—to begin with—how [you] understand and see this time that we’re in.
Anakha Coman: I think one of the markers that we can look at is the acceleration that technology brings to our life and our work. People are becoming more overwhelmed and distracted—[as well as] less connected to themselves, their own creativity, and contributions. I think there’s actually a real crisis [in] loss of connection to that which is most innately powerful and creative within us and between us in the workplace. We’re seeing that when we look at disengagement, stress, and even illness in the workplace.
So, I think we’re at a point where there’s a receptivity and an openness. People are looking for what [they] can do to actually get back in touch with ourselves, with what’s most important, and with one another—and to create and innovate from there. A lot of times I think people are putting new processes in place, new programs in place—but they’re not dealing with the inner awareness of the people that are actually putting those responsible for those programs and processes.
So, something like meditation and mindfulness is actually shifting the consciousness and the awareness—thus bringing a very different result.
If we were to become more present in the moment—more present with ourselves and one another—that the answers to our greatest problems are right here. So, I do think it is a crisis. I do think that people are not doing very well often in their jobs. I remember stories of people saying, “I’m working harder and faster. But at the end of the week, I leave and sometimes don’t even know if I really contributed anything.”
I think we are all meaning-makers. I think we all want to make a contribution. When that’s failing us, it really doesn’t create a sense of health or well-being.