Onward, upward and inward

Creating a mindfulness program for Dynamo

Image by Ales Krivec

Where it all began

Back in July 2015, I was introduced to meditation through a Dynamo client project (which also spawned off our Remindful app). As part of our research, our co-founder and project lead Alex Nemeroff invited an old friend Dr. Sarah Roberts, the Program Director at the MindSpace Clinic and licensed clinical psychologist, to give our team a 1-hour Lunch & Learn about mindfulness. Intrigued at the correlation between breath-work, clarity and productivity, I enrolled into an online 30-day mindfulness and meditation challenge that truly opened my eyes to what was always right in-front of me, but was never actually noticed.

So what is mindfulness exactly? In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of MBSR (more on that in a bit):

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

In a more hands-on type of perspective, mindfulness is a type of attention training, a source of self-knowledge and self-mastery, and a method to create useful mental habits.

The 8-week MBSR program

Fast forward to February 2016 when our fast-growing team and ever-evolving office was under heavy construction, our entire team was working remotely, either from home, a café or a co-working space. During these cold winter months, life was hitting me pretty hard so I enrolled in an 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at MindSpace Clinic with the intention to learn how to better manage my personal anxiety, surrounding negativity and overall stress levels.

By the end of the program, I felt like a whole new person… Well, not really. I felt like I finally got to know the real me. I felt refreshed, with a sense of purpose and direction, and with a new set of tools in my pocket, I was ready to tackle whatever life was going to throw at me.

The rippling benefits

Mindfulness and meditation brought many benefits that rippled through my life. It brought a sense of calm, clarity, and simplicity. Things that used to consume my attention no longer mattered. I’m able to focus for longer periods of time, I feel more at ease and am able to view situations from different perspectives. I’m a better communicator, team member and collaborator. I feel more confident, aligned with my values and even more comfortable in my own skin. And finally, to put it bluntly, I stopped taking s#!% from others.

The idea pitch

At my 2-year review in June 2016, I met with my bosses and pitched the idea of creating a Mindfulness program for Dynamo. Having personally experiencing the benefits, I wanted to share my learnings in hopes that it would also benefit others not only in their personal lives, but in their work-life as well. Luckily, the pitch landed on open ears & minds, and my bosses have been nothing short of supportive.

Research & creation

For the past month I’ve been knee-deep into researching and gathering as much information, tools, perspectives, and practical solo/group meditations and activities as possible. I’m wrapping up my research with the Search Inside Yourself (SIY) book, which is a summary and breakdown of Google’s mindfulness program. The SIY program is specifically angled towards improving emotional intelligence, and is armed with neurological backing, scientifically-proven, and a very evidence-based perspective to engage an engineer-type of audience.

What on earth is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. Some of the proven benefits of being emotionally intelligent are a stellar work performance, outstanding leadership, and the ability to create the conditions for happiness.

So what’s next? In the upcoming weeks and months, I’ll be creating a detailed structure plan, branding, team pitch, and then followed up with some intensive program planning. I’m aiming for a V1 internal launch realistically at the beginning of springtime for a small group of open-minded Dynamonians.

The bigger picture

Assuming all goes well internally and after tweaking and refining the program after it’s first run, my goal is to open it up to our partners and clients, and then eventually to the public. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for reading,
Bex


I would love to hear from you! Have you or your company taken any mindfulness-based initiatives? Would you be interested in joining our future mindfulness program? Don’t be shy, leave a comment below!