Having people’s quality attention in a meeting results in a much more productive and focused meeting. Whether having an in person or virtual meeting, this is easy to do.
These days, it’s not such a rarity to attend a meeting where someone says ‘before we get into this meeting, let’s spend a mindful minute’. If you have ever participated in this, you know how amazing one quick minute can be to bring everyone into full presence and ready to focus on the meeting’s purpose. The group's quality of attention can change greatly with this very simple exercise.
But who leads this?
Anyone can lead this, although generally it is the person chairing the meeting or someone else who’s been asked to lead this practice. A bit of guidance is needed to lead this with skill and at an appropriate, slow pace, so please see below for such guidance.
How do you even broach such a subject?
The best way to try this out with an audience who hasn’t done this before is to say something like this:
“I’ve been part of meetings where we started with just a quick mindful moment of silence to get our attention focused and ready for the meeting. And this is a great mini-break in our busy days! It’s quick and easy. This isn't mandatory so if you don't feel like doing this, that's OK, you can sit quietly during this short exercise. Are you game to give this a try?”
Chances are high that people will say Yes or at least stay neutral and let you do it!
How to lead a mindful minute meeting opener
Get their agreement to do this using the script above, or something like that in your own words.
Here is a suggested script:
This short exercise give us the opportunity to fully arrive to this meeting.
Please close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so, or it's just fine to keep your eyes open and have a soft gaze downwards.
Bring attention to how you are sitting, and find a way to be relaxed and alert at the same time. (pause)
Bring attention to your breath, and notice how you are breathing. If you'd like, take some deeper, slower breaths. Let’s give ourselves permission to let go of our busy day and become present together.”
(Then stay silent for about one minute to give them time to ‘be’.)
To guide them out of the exercise, say OK, to end this time, please bring a bit of movement into your body, perhaps move your hands and feet. (pause)
If you have your eyes closed, you can now slowly open our eyes when you’re ready.
(Wait a few moments to allow people to bring their attention back to the group.)
Thank you for doing this. I hope this was a welcome little break. Maybe you can notice how you feel right now, and if you feel any different than you felt before we did this.
People generally feel a little quiet after this, so may not say anything, but you will likely see people's heads nodding or smiles. The core idea here is just to give people a mindful mini-break so they can become fully present and be ready to give the meeting their quality attention.
This is usually very successful and welcomed by people to do this again and again. The most common comment you may hear is “can we do that for the whole meeting?”
Why not give this a try?
And if you are an experienced meditator who is interested in how to bring mindfulness into the workplace or the community, have a look at The Calm Monkey's Mindfulness Meditation Facilitator Training and Certification program.
~Wendy Quan, Founder, The Calm Monkey