How L&D professionals can get mindfulness wrong

by John Hilton19 Feb 2016
The easiest mistake L&D professionals can make with mindfulness is running a session once and thinking you’re done, according to Murray Paterson, head of learning and development at Herbert Smith Freehills.

Patterson said that it’s crucial for L&D professionals to understand that mindfulness is a way of being, a state and a daily practice.

 “If you treat it superficially you will do mindfulness a disservice and you are not really helping the people around you,” he told L&D Professional.

“It is complicated because we are talking about building a new habit. In this case it’s a mental habit.”

Paterson added that people know that if they exercise regularly they will improve their health or their strength or whatever it is that they are focusing on.

“And the same is true for mindfulness. If you practice this everyday the benefits will accrue. You will feel much better and you will be more effective in your work,” he said.

Patterson said that the danger for L&D professionals is that they read about mindfulness in the media and implement it without following through with encouraging ongoing application.

“That’s a mistake because employees walk away saying: ‘Well, it sounded interesting but I don’t feel any different.’ Why would you?”
“It’s like going to a personal trainer and getting a new tip on what to do with your exercise every week, and you never it implement enough,” he said.

“Then in 10 weeks you say: ‘Well, am I any fitter?’ Of course you’re not. So you really have to be active in mindfulness.

“There is a tendency for people to stop their practice and to forget about the things they learnt.”

After consulting employees, Paterson discovered that their people wanted the mindfulness training to be ongoing.

Consequently, in each of their offices in Australia HSF are running six-weekly reunion sessions where people can refresh a piece of content in the course that they want to focus on.

If L&D professionals are interested in mindfulness the first thing they must do is complete some study themselves, said Paterson.

“You need to have your own convictions that this is something worth doing,” he said.

“I would recommend strongly that people enrol themselves in a program offered by a reputable organisation.

“There is also nothing wrong with starting with an app. Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure you have a daily practice of least 10 minutes a day.”


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