Mindfulness in family law practice

Ahead of his workshop at the Northern Lights conference, family consultant Andrew Pearce shares some thoughts on mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?
 
The simplest description of mindfulness is being aware. Mindful practice means paying attention to the present moment, without judgement. The origin of mindfulness is in Buddhism but it's increasingly taught in a secular form.
 
It is believed that mindfulness can help to reduce stress, anxiety, conflict and increase resilience and emotional intelligence, while improving communication in the workplace.
 
This is why businesses such as Google, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Astra Zeneca, the NHS, Transport for London and Harvard Business School are including mindfulness principles in their leadership programmes, and also why I believe that people in many other organisations and professions can benefit, too.

Is mindfulness good for business?

Today, many of us are expected to perform and thrive in a global economy that changes at an increasingly fast pace.

Entrepreneurial leaders know that, to become more adaptable, they need to move beyond familiar or habitual ways of seeing the world and open up to new ways of leading, innovating and growing business.
 
Leaders who practice mindfulness at work report an improved ability to communicate clearly and more appropriate reactions to stressful situations. They also report a better ability to handle conflict, improve teamwork and "think out of the box."
 
It is also claimed that mindfulness can help businesses provide a higher standard of customer service by equipping staff with the skills to respond more appropriately to daily challenges.

For family professionals, who are dealing with challenging situations on a regular – often daily - basis, mindfulness may be able to offer a way of helping to build resilience.

The benefits of mindfulness

A core element of mindfulness is meditation, and a study conducted on behalf of Ashridge by Emma Dolman and Dave Bond reviewed the impact that meditation practices have made in business.
 
Their preliminary findings suggested a significant upward shift in general levels of satisfaction for individuals who commit to a period of mindfulness. The study also found that 90% of participants practicing mindfulness noted the following benefits:

61% noted 'feeling calm'
30% listed 'enjoyed leaving everything and having time to themselves'
22% identified improved sleep
22% cited 'having a different perspective'.
 
By comparison, only 52% of participants who did not practice mindfulness noted beneficial value from their self-chosen non-meditation activities.

The Ashridge study provides early indications to support the view that, where mindfulness and meditation is incorporated in leadership development, it is good for business.

Andrew Pearce will be running a workshop on mindfulness at the Northern Lights conference for family lawyers, mediators and other family professionals on 2 October in York. Find out more about the event here.
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