As part of my own on-going personal training, I recently attended a Mindfulness Course run by Liz Hall through the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC)*. I went with a very open mind keen to understand more on the subject, and whether it has a practical application for me when coaching clients.

It was interesting to learn what mindfulness is, and what it isn’t!

Listening to Liz and the other coaches in the room, it slowly dawned on me that the Transactional Analysis (TA) training I had many years ago, and elements of which I use every day, in my own life and in my practice, had set me up to be mindful all along. I just hadn’t known it!

Two clear definitions Liz used were:

  • Being present/paying attention to the present moment.
  • Practicing ‘attentional control’ (when we choose where to place our attention, bringing it back when it wanders and keeping it there).

The more I thought about these, the more they brought to mind the Ego States as defined by Eric Berne in 1964 when he developed the theories behind TA. Berne defined an ego state as,

“a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding pattern of behaviour”.

Paul Federn, an American psychoanalyst with whom Berne trained, viewed an ego state as “a totality of a person’s experience of him or herself and the external world at a given moment”. Berne defined three ego states, Parent, Adult and Child, and believed that all of our own behaviour falls within these three states.

Staying with the Adult state, it is defined thus: behaviours, thoughts and feelings which are direct responses to the here and now. Now if we return to the definitions from Liz, about being present and choosing where to place our attention – there is a very clear correlation between the two. So, have I known what mindfulness is all along, and have I been practicing it without knowing it? And, critically, what benefits does it have for clients?

From a business/corporate viewpoint, mindfulness training can positively affect staff in areas relating to:

  • Resilience
  • Collaboration
  • The capacity to lead in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions

On an individual level, mindfulness can help in many ways:

  • Identifying and becoming more aligned with values
  • Boosting emotional intelligence through self-awareness and relationship-awareness
  • Learning acceptance of how things are
  • Increasing confidence
  • Achieving better work/family balance
  • Boosting health and wellbeing
  • Tackling sleeping problems
  • Improving resilience
  • Management of stressful situations, anxiety and mild depression
  • Increasing focus, clarity, creativity
  • Boosting performance
  • Strategic thinking

There’s certainly a lot of food for thought. If you’d like to explore mindfulness further, or would like to chat about how it could help you, or your team, do get in touch.