MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) in Organizations
I was pinching myself last Sunday when I joined the MBSR community from Northern California in San Jose. The gathering met with MBSR founders Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli and renowned MBSR and Vipassana teacher Bob Stahl for the day, exploring what is going on with MBSR and what is emerging.
Evidence gathered with over 20,000 participants.
The 85 participants who gathered were teachers or teachers-in-training of MBSR, an evidence-based meditation practice that has helped over 20,000 people improve their health through programs guided by the Center for Mindfulness of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Mass.
A proven track record.
MBSR has a proven track record in improving health, wellness, and brain function. Hundreds of research studies provide comprehensive evidence of the benefits of MBSR. Organizations like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Ford Motor Company (I bet you are saying “one of these things is not like the other!”) are intrigued by the gathering body of evidence. Google has integrated MBSR into a leadership development program, and Yahoo! includes MBSR in a wellness program. Twitter, Ford, and Facebook are exploring how to implement MBSR.
Leaders of organizations want their employees to be healthy and engaged. MBSR supports stress reduction and clear thinking–both are critical for decision-making and innovation in organizations that are challenged with unpredictable market conditions.
Merging MBSR and Organizational Development.
As one of the few OD people in the group, I was encouraged and excited by the work emerging. The acknowledged need for MBSR brings together my passions of organizational and leadership transformation and mindfulness meditation. I’m lucky to be part of an MBSR teacher training program because I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for over 40 years and have just begun MBSR teacher training. As an OD practitioner and consultant, I have brought mindfulness to executives and teams that I have worked with and led, coached and/or facilitated. It has been an uphill journey.
The benefits of loving kindness meditation.
On Sunday, a small group of us met to talk about MBSR in organizations over lunch. Several of us shared examples how one of the practices of MBSR, loving kindness practice, solved painful conflicts with a boss or colleague. Instead of confronting the person and engaging the other person with aggression, the MBSR practitioners wished their enemy well, sending the person peaceful thoughts and wishes for their happiness and peace. This practice took away the polarized energy of me vs. you, and in every case, the challenging person responded remarkably quickly.
The aggression and conflict evaporated and friendship arose. The relationships became workable. The effectiveness of the loving kindness practice surprised the senders of good will enormously. Their good wishes disarmed the energy of polarization and conflict.
Conflict hurts effectiveness.
Conflict eats into organizational effectiveness and erodes teamwork. And, if you have a team or group without conflict, then people are not speaking their minds or telling the truth. In our examples, the simple practice of wishing well cut through discord and disagreement, restoring effective and engaged working relationships.
To engage fully in organizations, the ability to work with conflict skilfully is only one small benefit derived from MBSR practices. Easing stress levels promotes better leadership and lessens reactivity. In fast moving organizations, reducing the triggers that create cycles of reactivity and pressure improves the working relationships, workflows, and outcomes. In software companies, it improves the code, baby.
This post was previously published on http://www.ico-consulting.com/blog