Cultivating mindfulness is essential now. Margaret Chapman writes:
‘Looking at the apparent speed by which mindfulness is crossing over from the clinical into the organisational field, it appears that being mindful is now the new yardstick by which pioneering organisations and their leaders are being judged. Today’s leaders not only have to be emotionally intelligent, but also mindful. An emotionally intelligent mindful leader is one who, in an age of austerity, can concurrently inspire employees to achieve more with less; is concerned about employee wellbeing and behaves with greater care and compassion.’
I am noticing in my work that many of us – coaches, mentors and supervisors – are dealing with increased amounts of stress, fear and uncertainty in our clients. Since we are all connected at many levels, these feelings affect us too. It’s also true that some of us are dealing with the effects of cancelled contracts, as well as being in the situation of working with clients who are similarly challenged. It is unusual that in a profession that actively promotes optimism and has many practices to wing our clients to the land of bigger/better/ best, we are hitting the barriers to growth and change, earlier than might normally be expected. Typically, people tighten up, when things get tough. Our clients – and ourselves.
So this blog is a plea for us to self-care more than ever before, to become centred as never before and to find within, the values, practices and resources that are sustaining in difficult times.
If we look at the context in which many coaches are working, it is clear that the system as a whole, is under strain. It is impossible to ignore the relentless media discussions about a possible financial precipice in the West – and beyond. On and on the politicians and commentators talk – so many ‘facts’, so many opinions, so many popping eyes. Energetically, the collective distress is magnified as we pour words into the closed circle of the old paradigm. That old paradigm is taking quite a hit now, supported as it was by consumerism, capitalism and a (strange) belief that there would always be plenty to go round even if population increase continued apace – and even if we collectively ignored the increasing gulf between the few who get ‘fat’ and the many who ‘starve’. Coaches are working right across the social and economic strata and so we experience the hinterland where clients of all types, register their responses to the undercurrents of this time. I hear of clients who are breaking down, of others who are handling dangerous levels of stress and of many who are carrying workloads that lead directly to illness.
I am aware these days of Yeats’ poem. ‘The Second Coming’ and the oft quoted line ‘the centre cannot hold’. What’s important now is that our ‘centre’ holds as we work with those who are struggling. The great thing is that we can return to ‘centre’ anytime. It’s always there, always available. We have many names for it and many ways of getting there. Having a strong, healthy ‘centre’ involves practising mindfulness, operating from heart values and it requires that we stay in touch with joy. The decision to do this requires a ‘high degree of motivation and commitment’. (M Chapman)
‘Mindfulness is moving from the marginal to the mainstream because it speaks to the challenges of our time, which are to build our own, employees’ and organisational resilience. Mindfulness practice provides, as Wendy Harvey, observes: ‘individuals with new ways of responding to life’s experience and cultivating a deeper sense of health and wellbeing.’
Margaret Chapman is a chartered psychologist, chartered scientist and chartered F. CIPD. She is an ei coach and supervisor and a partner in ei coaching and consulting, and a member of the CIPD coaching and mentoring faculty. firstname.lastname@example.org
Edna Murdoch 2011