Dr Jan Goss

Creating Space to Reflect

Creating Space to Reflect

I feel a slight change approaching, in the form of my work, this happens from time to time. For all of us, it is important to notice when it is time to change things and be flexible and courageous enough to let go and move forward.

I am currently undertaking training in Psychosynthesis Leadership Coaching and this will contribute to changes I wish to make in offering Mindful Leadership Coaching & Mindful LeadershipTraining. It is beginning to be acknowledged that mindfulness offers great scope for personal growth and human potential, in addition to it’s proven therapeutic benefits – indeed, that was the thrust of the empirical research I carried out at Lancaster University for my Ph.D. The words ‘Mindfulness’, ‘Leadership’ and ‘Coaching’ sit together very well and Mindful Leaders who are able to consider a broader and deeper view, are needed now, more than ever.

I am working increasingly with progressive organisations such as Carillion plc, the Rank Foundation, Lancaster University and the RNLI, who see the value in supporting people to take time out to reflect and identify personal strengths as well as areas for growth, simultaneoulsy restoring their wellbeing. Typically, and somewhat paradoxically, time given to personal and professional reflection is an invaluable resource that ensures greater ‘productivity’ and ‘success’, in any field, however measured. On a personal level too, my private clients really value and benefit from regular reflective space. We all need this to gain clarity and move forward effectively and happily.

The growth of mindfulness training is rapid in the UK as many of the people who have developed their own practice, want to undertake further training so that they can introduce others to the benefits that they have enjoyed. Five years ago, when I was at a gathering of any kind and people asked me what I ‘do’, they would often look at me quizzically when I mentioned mindfulness, now, almost everyone I talk to has some experience of it, personally or through the media. Mindfulness has gone mainstream and often features in programmes such as The Truth About…Stress (available here on BBC iplayer). The continued longevity of mindfulness seems certain. There have been one or two (and only one or two) skeptical swipes at it over the years, but they haven’t gained any momentum, because the results from research are all so encouraging and people are trusting their own experience of it. It simply ‘works’.

I have also worked with a great number of people who are in the therapeutic field, including psychotherapists, counsellors and coaches, who introduce their clients to mindfulness. Due to the proliferation of ‘mindfulness trainers’, there is a mounting need for ‘Mindfulness Supervision’ that offers a reflective space for the trainers/facilitators to address questions about their own personal practice, and so I am beginning (continuing) to offer that more formally, if you are interested please get in touch. Just as counsellors and coaches have supervision sessions, Mindfulness Supervision offers support and guidance for the mindfulness trainer. We all need someone who is further along the path than we are. For me, it is the practice community and monastics of Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition. This fits well with my ‘meditation history’, much (but not all) of which is rooted in Buddhist practice.

Those of us teaching mindfulness need to go on regular retreats and be open to learning and developing our practice so that we can offer those around us the ever increasing depth and solidity of our practice. The facilitator has a strong influence on the experience of the group, there is a ripple effect and a ‘transmission’ effect that takes place during the meditation practice and simply though offering our presence. When we understand this we know the responsibility we have and the importance of building a strong and authentic personal practice that has integrity, that will benefit those we work with. If we are passing mindfulness on to others in any formal way, it has to be a way of life, infusing every action of mind and body, to be of real benefit.

Whether you choose to practice mindfulness or not, it is important to create reflective time and space. It is essential to our wellbeing. It enables us to delineate and learn from our experiences in order to get more from life. Once we are on a mindful path there isn’t really any option but to do this. We become accustomed to feeling the benefits, and notice the difference when we don’t.

Essentially, all of the work I engage in and the services and events that I offer, have reflective space, at their heart. This is the nature of the work I have been engaged in for the past 20 years, in one form or another, personally and professionally. Mindfulness teaches us patience and shows us that there is no substitute for experience gained through practice, that this takes time and a deep commitment. Every minute of meditation counts and it is important to underpin that with the deeper understanding gained, though study and reflective practice, one-to-one and/or in a group, if we are to get the most from mindfulness.

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