Mindfulness in facilitation

What is mindfulness and how do you know when you’re practising it? It’s something I often question on the blog as it’s something I want to get right. For me, mindfulness happens when I’m faced with a situation where I need my wits about me, and I need to be aware of what’s happening in the physical space around me, the emotions I’m feeling, and the state I think others are in.

I think I’ve always practised this element of mindfulness, and it’s only in recent times I’m gaining that understanding that this is what I’ve been cultivating. Previously I understood it as emotional intelligence, and I consider that the two are so intrinsically linked that it’s actually hard to differentiate the two. This is also influenced by Daniel Goleman often writing about mindfulness too over on his LinkedIn page.

The practise I find most challenging, though, is when I’m by myself. See I’m a real people person and generally like to be part of the crowd that’s doing things. I’ve written before about how I believe I’m a better follower than a leader, and this is certainly true when it comes to experimenting with new practises. In the case of mindfulness, I’m much happier trying it when with others than with myself. There’s that connected experience of what we’re doing together which means I want to do it again and live the insights as well as gaining them.

When I’m facilitating is when I’ve got my mindfulness gauge turned up all the way. There is so much to be attuned to, that it’s easy to miss small cues, little whispers, uncomfortable movements, quiet banter, engaged discussions, and so much more. I find that if I haven’t prepped properly for a learning session then I can’t act mindfully because I’m too worried about the learning content and not worried enough about the learning experience.

I am quite a self-aware kind of guy, and know within myself when I’m in a good place and when I’m not. When I am it means I find myself being quite playful and free with the facilitation. I start to let go and find myself in flow. When I’m in flow is when I’m amongst the group and I’m part of them while maintaining my role.

When my focus goes elsewhere is when I am thinking about things I shouldn’t be. I wonder if I can tweet this? What time is the next break? Is that person talking again? I wonder if the kids are home yet? Should I check my emails to see if there’s something more interesting happening? Maybe I can quickly take my turn on Words With Friends?

So it’s important for me to be free of those things when I’m facilitating. Because when I’m mindful is when these things are happening for me:

I’m aware of what I’m experiencing and how this is affecting my delivery and facilitation.

I’m hearing the emotions in the group and that tells me how people are reacting to the learning they’re either receiving or not.

I’m shaping the discussion to happen in a way which makes sense to me and to them.

I’m aware of the time and how it might be influencing the group.

I’m noticing my own energy levels and how this is affecting the energy of the group.

I’m paying attention to the task the group are doing and how well they’re involved with it all.

So I guess I wonder, have you now realised as I have that being mindful is easier than it seems?

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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