Forget about gurus, incense, cramp-inducing postures and time-travelling introspection: I want to talk about an entirely different kind of mediation. The kind that won Wendy Quan first prize at the 2015 White Paper ACMP, and that captivated her audience at a Las Vegas conference titled Meditation, A Powerful Change Management Tool.
As a change manager at Pacific Blue Cross, a British Columbia insurance company with over 730 employees, Ms. Quan was forced to take a leave of absence from her job due to a serious medical condition. During this challenging time, she discovered mindfulness mediation. Upon her return to work, her colleagues were very impressed with the inner strength she seemed to radiate, and they asked her to teach them what she had learned. The idea of introducing meditation as an instrument of change slowly made its way to the “change manager” side of Ms. Quan, and she started leading weekly mediation classes in her company.
- First, because her personal experience lead her to realize that meditation had the power to reduce excess human stress and increase our capacity to deal with any type of change.
- Second, because her return to work happened to coincide with a major transformation in the organization, with no less than 25 administrative systems being merged into a single one. This huge transformation would have a major impact on roles and responsibilities, points of service, number of employees and more. In other words: enormous stress for everyone involved!
What Exactly Is Mindful Meditation?
Meditating doesn’t mean “thinking about nothing”. On the contrary, it’s about being fully conscious of what’s happening around you, and absorbing on an equal footing all related emotions and sensations, whether pleasant or unpleasant. During meditation classes, participants work on their ability to maintain an objective and open frame of mind, with no self-judgement and, above all, without giving in to reactivity. The good news is that this capacity for observation is within everyone’s reach, and it can be integrated into our daily lives. So no more succumbing to ego or to biased mental frameworks caused by momentary stress.
Concretely, Ms. Quan packaged this concept in 30-minute lunchtime classes given with the help of volunteers. Through “Talk & Teach” sessions, guided meditation or dialogue, she teaches participants to reflect on the way they deal with organizational change and how they perceive its impact. She also teaches them to analyze their own reactions and to be conscious of their individual way of doing things.
Now broadened to cover nearly 25% of the workforce, this initiative has produced clear, concrete results that have been measured by Ms. Quan and her team.
These results will be discussed in part 2 of this post. In fact, they’re so compelling that they can’t help but make you stop and think about integrating mediation techniques to your change management toolbox – keeping in mind that stress is like cholesterol: there’s the good kind, and the bad kind.