Learning at Work week is an annual event in May. It aims to to put a spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development at work. This year it takes place from 15th-21st May and the theme is 'Curious & Creative'.
ScOPT are running a series of articles on the website to tie in with Learning at Work week, as well as highlighting appropriate resources each day.
The last of our Learning at Work week posts, this is a post about mindfulness by Moira Harris.
Albert Einstein once said "I have no special talents, I am just passionately curious" and it is this 'passionate curiosity' that is at the core of all learning, research and, indeed, reflection. It is, I would suggest, also at the core of mindfulness.
Rob Nairn (1998) says mindfulness is simply "knowing what is happening, while it's happening, whatever it is". It is paying attention to our moment-by-moment experience, in an accepting and non-judgmental way. Curiosity and kindness are crucial to this. With regular mindfulness practice, we can begin to slow down and notice what is happening, but it is curiosity and compassion that enables this. Curiosity that brings a lightness, a playfulness, an engaging sense of interest in this ever changing pattern of sensation, emotion and thought playing out in our inner world. Compassion allows us to allow, accept and 'hold' this experience just as it is without trying to suppress or avoid it, even when it brings discomfort. This is in stark contrast with our normal mode of operation, which is one of autopilot and preoccupation. Learning to develop a curiosity about our experience fosters a natural capacity to stop and notice what is happening right now, instead of scurrying off into the worries and plans of the past and the future.
This isn't just important for our wellbeing, but brings a presence to our practice as social workers and educators. Being present with our own moment-by-moment inner world experience, allows us to be present for others. When we can learn to stop, notice and accept our own experience with kindness and curiosity, we are able to listen more clearly to others, letting go of what Isaacs (2005) calls our "inner clamouring". Mindful, compassionate curiosity allows us to approach those moments of discomfort, those difficult conversations, with a genuine presence and openness.
So, as we bring this Learning at Work week to an end: be mindful, be kind. Be passionately and compassionately curious.
Isaacs, W. (2005) 'Listening' in Malone, C., Forbat, L., Robb, M. and Seden, J. (eds) Relating Experience: Stories from Health and Social Care, London, Routledge/The Open University.
Nairn, R. (1998). Diamond mind : psychology of meditation, Kalk Bay, South Africa, Kairoon Press.