Apparently, it is Mindfulness year. Surya Turner, Sonja Antell and I did not know this when we developed a one day mindful facilitation course – continuous professional development for experienced facilitators which combines basic mediation techniques with an exploration of the wilder shores running action learning sets team days, board events or large groups. We piloted it in April with colleagues and delivered our first open programme in May.
The idea for this came about almost organically: we are all facilitators, we are all trainers, and we each have a strong connection to mindfulness meditation – for Sonja recently, longer for Surya and I. Though we air it rarely in our professional lives Surya and I have both been Buddhists for a couple of decades. Each of us either used mindfulness to prepare for our facilitation work or relied on it to stay focussed during that work, especially when the plan didn’t quite work out, or had offered brief, optional experiences of guided meditation during programmes or events.
How might it be, we wondered, to create an offer which would be useful to people with some mindfulness experience and to others who had no experience but were interested, curious about what it might offer? There is also little in the way of CPD for facilitators – we mostly learn on the job, from triumphs and disasters as well as the good enough, and rarely have anything in the way of supervision or shared practice.
We learned a lot from the April pilot. Surya and I delivered it jointly: Sonja was a delegate and then ran the participant review after we left. It was truly encouraging to receive the constructive and astute views, and meant that we:
• reorganised the programme to minimise repetition
• made a clearer contract with participants about how we’d work together
• increased the mindfulness experience
• decreased, slightly plenary working
• opened up the planned schedule to allow us to go with our perceptions of the participants’ needs
The participants’ evaluations were both strongly positive and constructively critical. We enjoyed delivering it: for both Surya and I this programme is a welcome integration of our own spiritual practice and our professional lives. For Sonja it strengthens her discovery that mindfulness is a brilliant route to personal confidence and professional competence.
We will continue to adjust what we offer as we deliver: I look forward to the possibility of a two day programme to enable deeper exploration of both mindfulness and the achievement of excellent professional practice.
The next cpd workshop for experienced facilitators is on 22 November in central London.