Mindfulness in the Workplace

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This page contains an overview of how mindfulness is being used in business by leaders and the workforce alike. This page contains case studies, links and video clips. As this page contains a high volume of information, use the "Quick Links" on the right of the screen to help you navigate round more quickly, or the "search" box at the top of the screen.

Mindfulness can help reduce workplace tensions. People 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 workplace conflict, Improved teamwork, a better ability to "think out of the box" and in some cases enhanced creativity. 

Using mindfulness in the workplace is highly beneficial to both businesses and their employees. Mindfulness can help businesses provide a higher standard of Customer Service by equipping their staff with the skills to respond more appropriately to their daily challenges.    Mindfulness can help employees respond more appropriately to managers and colleagues that they have previously found difficult. A few minutes of mindfulness at the start of a meeting usually leads to improved focus, clearer communication and improved decision making. Teams who practice mindfulness, even for a few minutes a day report improved team working and team relations.

The most widely documented use of mindfulness in the workplace is by Leaders and Executives. Modern business leaders are now asked to perform and thrive in a global environment that moves and changes at lightning speed. To become more adaptable and flexible in this environment, leaders need to move beyond familiar or habitual ways of seeing the world and open up to new ways of listening, leading, responding, and innovating.

While innovation can't be manufactured on demand, it can be cultivated both inwardly and outwardly through the practice of mindfulness. Cultivating attention and awareness through mindfulness provides a new way for leaders and their workforce to live all aspects of their lives with a greater sense of skill, connection, openness, and balance.

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Mindfulness for productivity at workMindful leadership overview

Business leaders today are being asked to perform and thrive in a global environment that moves and changes at an increasingly fast pace. To become more adaptable and flexible in this environment, leaders need to move beyond familiar or habitual ways of seeing the world and open up to new ways of listening, leading, responding, and innovating.

Studies of Mindfulness in a business context have shown that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased burnout.  

Mindfulness Meditation quiets mental chatter and It lays the foundation for better decision-making and communication.  Mindfulness can be developed by attending mindfulness classes, or via 1:1 coaching from a mindfulness coach in the workplace.

Mindful leadership research

The Ashridge Journal: Mindful leadership: Exploring the value of a meditation practice; Spring 2011

The practice of meditation in the business world is increasingly moving from the fringe to the mainstream, and already features as a key part of a number of international management and organisation development programmes. Emma Dolman and Dave Bond review the impact that meditation practices have made, and report on a meditation research study conducted at  Ashridge.

Their preliminary findings suggest a significantly upwards shift in general levels of satisfaction for  individuals who commit to a period of mindfulness. This is a promising finding in relation to an  exploration of the beneficial impact of meditation for the workplace. 90%  of Group 1  (participants practicing mindfulness) noted benefi ts from having participated in the mindfulness  activities. 61% noted 'feeling of calm', 30% listed 'enjoyed leaving everything and having time to  themselves'. 22% of the items listed related to improved sleep, and 22% also cited 'having a different perspective'. By comparison, only 52% of Group 2 noted benefi cial value from their self-chosen non-meditation activities.

Their study provides early indications to support existing work in this field, which incorporates mindfulness and meditation in leadership development and sustainability.

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Mindful leadership case studies

Case study 1: Mindful leadership at General Mills

In 2009, General Mills ranked No. 3 in Fortune magazine's listing of the Global Top Companies for Leaders; No. 7 in Training magazine's ranking of top companies; and No. 12 in BusinessWeek's listing of the Best Places to Launch a Career. One reason the company has consistently fared so well is because it has aggressively pioneered the use and development of cutting-edge leadership programs. One of the newest, most popular initiatives has been the Mindful Leadership Program series.

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Case Study 2: Dave Jakubowski: Vice President United Online

Dave Jakubowski is vice-president of business development for Internet service provider United Online. Dave Jakubowski is no breathe-like-a-tree kind of guy. "I'm in business," he says, "and I need results." So he recently turned to a mat and 60 minutes of silence. "It's amazing," he says of his new mindfulness meditation practice. "I'm able to sort through work challenges in this state of calm much faster than trying to fight through it. And I make fewer mistakes."

from Zen and the Art of Corporate Productivity - an article that also references other companies who have engages with mindful leadership.

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Case study 3: Joel Rubinstein MD; Associate Medical Director, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Harvard Pilgrim is a not-for-profit health plan that provides a variety of insurance plan options and self-funding arrangements to more than one million members in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Harvard Pilgrim currently has 1300 staff, and actively promotes a healthy balance of work and personal life. They were recently named as one of the Globes top 100 places to work.

Around 25% of staff have attended mindfulness training (MBSR) run in house by Tara Healey.

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Case study 4: Michael Forlenza, PhD, MPH, School of Leadership and Professional Advancement, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Michael is Assistant Dean in the School of Leadership.  His role is both strategic and operational. The School has an annual budget of approximately $4 million. Michael's primary focus is on the development, reorganization, and implementation of school-wide operations and academic programs, policies, procedures, and processes.

"Mindfulness supports my leadership practice at several different levels simultaneously.  First, on a personal level, I find the practice helps me deal with the stress of constant information overload and shifting demands and priorities.  It also helps as I manage my staff; I am more present, more thoughtful and deliberative in decision-making...."

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Case study 5: Leaders who use mindfulness at work: Kristen Stancik: Client Service Manager:  Citizen Relations (PR)

Kristen is a busy Client Service Manager with global public relations firm Citizen Relations.

PR is the second most stressful industry, behind air-traffic controllers. "Mindfulness has been invaluable in all areas of my work: actively listening to my clients, developing wise and innovative strategies, fostering creativity"............

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Case study 6: If Insurance

A Mindfulness programme run within IF Insurance was independently evaluated by the Health Group in 2010.  The results, based on participant's self-assessment included:

88% of participant reporting "a highly increased ability to stay focussed"
76% of participant reporting "highly increased positive relationships within their teams".
68% of participant reporting "highly increased personal efficiency and productivity"
60% of participant reporting "highly increased ability to counteract stress"

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Mindful leadership websites


The Institute for mindful Leadership

Institute for mindful leadershipBased in the USA, The Institute for Mindful Leadership brings together a deep knowledge of mindfulness training and the actual, lived experience of senior business leaders. The work of the Institute began more than five years ago at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School through the collaboration efforts of Saki Santorelli and Janice Marturano and evolved to serve the increasing demand through the creation of this new non-profit institute. Today the Institute enables top executives in business, academia, non-profit and government sectors to fully realize their potential through Mindful Leadership training. Hundreds of leaders from organizations from around the world have participated in these unique programs. Its Executive Director, Janice Marturano, is a Vice President, Public Responsibility and Deputy General Counsel of General Mills, Inc. and an experienced mindfulness teacher.

The Institute offers an array of programs specifically designed to explore the intersection of mindfulness training and the qualities associated with leadership excellence.

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Mindfulness works


mindfulness works mindfulness at work trainingBased in the UK, Michael Chaskalson is the founder and Chief Executive of Mindfulness Works. Michael and his team coach senior people and deliver bespoke training.  Michael is the author of "The Mindful   Workplace" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Michael is one of the world's foremost proponents of the use of mindfulness in workplace settings.

Having attended Michael's training, Mindfulnet.org can personally recommend Michael and the services he provides.   Testimonials include: "After the course I seem to get more done with less effort. I'm more grounded and have an increased self-belief. It's not that I feel protected from bad things happening but rather that whatever happens there's nothing to fear really. It's improved my relationships, especially the previously challenging ones at work!"


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The Potential project

the potential project corporate mindfulness trainingThe Potential Project has developed the Corporate-Based Mindfulness Training Program (CBMT) in order to meet the specific challenges corporate life has. CBMT is a tailor-made solution for busy people with little time and high ambitions. The Potential Project was initiated in Copenhagen, Denmark, around 2005. Now it is an international organization with a growing number of trainers in countries all over the world.

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Articles on Mindfulness for leaders

Finding the space to lead by Janice Marturano. 

Excellent article about how mindfulness helps leaders see, hear, and think with greater clarity.....

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Knowledge Worker Productivity and The Practice of Self-Management By Jeremy Hunter, Ph.D., with J. Scott Scherer. 

A chapter from The Ducker Difference: What the World's Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today's Business Leaders published in 2009. The chapter features how to use mindfulness for self management  

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Learn to become a mindful leader By Ronald Alexander, Ph.D

This article was published in Psychology today on the January 13, 2010:  "A mindful leader leads from a position of mindful awareness, or what I call mindstrength, by knowing how to respond with awareness instead of reaction and how to make everyone on their team feel recognised, affirmed and valued."

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The slumbering giant stirs: Heed the need for mindful leadership  

"There's a growing sense of unrest-from the Arab spring, to the European austerity protests, to the TEA party, the Occupy movement, the 53 percenters, and the list goes on and on. What does it mean? And why bother writing about it on a leadership blog?

Here's what it means, a basic human yearning- to have a voice, to be heard, to be respected, to be connected, and to be known in ways that honor, explore, and unlock potential-has gone unaddressed in the world (and the world of work) for far too long."...... 

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Mindfulness: the leaders path during times of change. 

This article explores how leaders can become more mindful in times of change

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Mindfulness for Leaders

Michael Chaskalson's recent talk at Ashridge Renewal "Leaders need to learn to rebalance their neurological state to activate the parasympathetic area of the brain. This triggers hormones such as oxytocin, which governs bonding and engagement, care and concern, hope, optimism and elation. The immune system becomes enhanced and blood pressure falls. Old brain neurons expand and new neurons grow."

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Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart people Underperform Harvard Business Review article.

"Frenzied executives who fidget through meetings, miss appointments, and jab at the elevator's "door close" button aren't crazy-just crazed. They're suffering from a newly recognized neurological phenomenon called attention deficit trait (ADT). Marked by distractibility, inner frenzy, and impatience, ADT prevents managers from clarifying priorities, making smart decisions, and managing their time. This insidious condition turns otherwise talented performers into harried underachievers. And it's reaching epidemic proportions.

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An introduction to the Mind to Lead Model .

How one of Suzanne Kryder's coaching clients, Judith, used the three facets of mindfulness on the job.

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The value of deep thinking: Financial Times reports on the long-term value of deep thinking in troubled times

"Google also offers meditation. "It helps clarity of vision," the company says. "In the workplace it gives our employees the time and headspace to unwind in the midst of their busy days. If people feel refreshed, and can take part in something like this with a group of like-minded people, then who knows what innovation this might lead to?"

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Mindful leadership: Training the brain to lead by Michael Chaskalson

Michael Chaskalson talks about the neuroscience of mindfulness and how this can improve leadership. " Mindfulness training can help you to become happier -and it can make you a better leader."

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Mindfulness for leaders: media clips


The Mindful Leader, Michael Carroll

Michael Carroll, an experienced consultant and HR executive with many years of experience in both the corporate world and the world of Zen, draws attention to the benefits that can result from taking being more mindful in the workplace. Carroll addresses ways to enhance productivity when working, focusing on ways to open communication and break the limitations of routine. He talks about work as a source of identity and explains why mindfulness training is about training the mind. "Work is not an intrusion, its an invitation to live our lives". 


Jon Kabat Zinn discusses mindfulness in a leadership context Preview of a documentary on mindfulness and leadership with Jon Kabat-Zinn

 Leading @ Google: Mindful Leadership author Michael Carroll discusses his latest book A new generation of business leaders is turning to mindfulness as a cutting-edge leadership tool. Michael Carroll visits Google's Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his book "The Mindful Leader: Ten Principles for Bringing Out the Best in Ourselves and Others."

US Congress discuss Mindfulness Congressman Ryan Discusses Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction with Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius 9th June 2009. Although this clip is discussing the use of Mindfulness in a healthcare setting, It is featured in this section as it demonstrates how mainstream mindfulness has become and its growing acceptance by people in positions of power. Although this clip may be a bit painful to watch for those who have knowledge of mindfulness, its little step in the right direction.

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Mindfulness in the workplace

Mindfulness in the workplace: overview

Mindfulness is already well known for being effective in reducing stress and increasing wellbeing.  But what about its value in productivity, resilience or performance?

A wide range of recent studies have cited the specific business benefits of mindfulness within organisations, including:

    * Reduced costs of staff absenteeism and turnover
    * Improved cognitive function - (i.e. better concentration, memory and learning ability)
    * Improved productivity
    * Enhanced employer/employee and client relationships
    * Enhanced employee job satisfaction

Mindfulness in the workplace conference

Click here to find out more about the 2014 Mindfulness in the workplace conference

The cost of workplace stress

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health in the US estimate that stress-related ailments cost companies about $200 billion a year in increased absenteeism, tardiness, and the loss of talented workers. Between 70% to 90% of employee hospital visits are linked to stress. And job tension is directly tied to a lack of productivity and loss of competitive edge.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK, echo these findings. In 2008/09 an estimated 415 000 workers in Britain, believed that they were experiencing work-related stress at a level that was making them ill. The 2009 Psychosocial Working Conditions (PWC) survey indicated that around 16.7% of all working individuals thought their job was very or extremely stressful. The annual incidence of work-related mental health problems in Britain in 2008 was approximately 5,126 new cases per year. However, this almost certainly underestimates the true incidence of these conditions in the British workforce. Estimates indicate that self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for an estimated 11.4 million lost working days in Britain in 2008/09. 

An increasing number of companies are using mindfulness to address workplace tension. Increasingly overstretched and overburdened  employees are using mindfulness to improve the quality of their lives. Many companies are offering free, on-site classes, partly due to compelling findings at the National Institutes of Health, the University of Massachusetts, and the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University that mindfulness enhances the qualities companies need; such as increased brain-wave activity, enhanced intuition and better concentration.

Mindfulness has some high-profile corporate disciples, including Pacific Investment Management, Apple Computer, Yahoo!, Google, McKinsey, Deutsche Bank, Hughes Aircraft .Procter & Gamble, and Starbucks.

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals in the US offers mindfulness meditation courses aimed at energizing its 5,000 employees during and after marathon meetings.   AstraZeneca now fund research and support mindfulness programmes

In comparison to the cost of employee sickness, mindfulness programs are relatively inexpensive, and can aid employee motivation and retention, as employees often regard mindfulness programmes as a " job perk".


Mindful working by Wise Brain: Free PDF


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Mindfulness in the workplace case studies


Case Study: Mindfulness at AOL Time Warner and Ebay

In 2006, AOL Time Warner Inc, reduced their sales and marketing group from 850 to 500 people. Mindfulness classes were incorporated to help employees deal with the new working arrangements. As well as helping employees function better at work, the classes were regarded by many as a gesture of thanks for a job well done.

Adapted from: Zen and the art of corporate productivity

Online auction site eBay encourage mindfulness amongst employees by providing two meditation rooms at its San Jose campus. Here, employees can sit in silence-in minimalist rooms decorated in earth tones, accented with cushy pillows, floor mats and fragrant flower buds-to catch a few critical moments of solitude and to decompress from the myriad stresses of a workday.

Adapted from: Mindfulness in the workplace by Jenny Lee

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Case study: Mindfulness training is helpful for the military

Abridged from an article by Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor, reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. 

A new study suggests mindfulness training can help high-stressed U.S. military groups prepare for deployment to Iraq.

The study found that the more time participants spent engaging in daily mindfulness exercises the better their mood and working memory, the cognitive term for complex thought, problem solving and cognitive control of emotions.

The program, called Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT™), aims to cultivate greater psychological resilience or "mental armor" by bolstering mindfulness.

The program covered topics of central relevance to the Marines, such as integrating skills to manage stress reactions, increase their resilience to future stressors and improve their unit's mission effectiveness. Thus, the program blended mindfulness skills training with concrete applications for the operational environment and information and skills about stress, trauma and resilience in the body.

"Our findings suggest that, just as daily physical exercise leads to physical fitness, engaging in mindfulness exercises on a regular basis may improve mind-fitness," Jha said.

Click here to read the full article

July 2010 update: 

Since this article was published, Mindfulnet have been contacted with an update on the project:

" The Marine study you posted has blossomed into a study being held right here on Oahu at Schofield Barracks. It is led by Anishi Jha out of the University of Pennsylvania. Here is the study's web site which includes pdf files on other completed the studiesby Amishi, including the 2007 Marine study.


The University of Pennsylvania is playing a key role in bringing programs that have a mindfulness component to the Army.Dr. Martin Seligman (unrelated to Amishi Jha's studies) has developed the Comprhensive Soldier Fitness Program for 1.1 million soldiers.

Alan Goldstien and Steve Flowers run a full virtual 8-week MBSR program for vetrans on Second Life

December 2010 update:

 Mindfulness Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT) is conducting an on-going resilience study will help clarify which components of MMFT are most effective for building stress resilience.  The STRONG (Schofield Barracks Training and Research On Neurobehavioral Growth) study is sponsored by the U.S. Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. Read more



Mindfulness in the workplace: Articles and Links

Margaret Chapman mindfulness coachingMindfulness in the workplace: whats all the fuss about?

Margaret Chapman explores the shift from the marginal to the mainstream and implications for practitioners.  Article published in Counselling at Work, October 2011

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Mindfulness in the Workplace with Dr Atkinson

Mindfulness training is increasingly becoming an integral feature of international management and organisation development programmes.

Some of the world's leading companies including Google, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Apple Inc, Yahoo and KPMG have invested in mindfulness training for their employees. Why? because it is a effective and cost-effective way to improve performance and resilience

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Building Fit minds under pressure Science Daily: 17th Feb 2010: A new generation of business leaders is turning to mindfulness as a cutting-edge leadership tool. Research suggests that the practice of mindfulness--a technique for learning to live in the present moment--can help individuals gain clarity, reduce stress, optimize performance, and develop a greater sense of well-being.

Effects of an 8 week clinical training programme on mindfulness on healthy employees "These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways"

In a Bad Spot? Try Mindfulness   Harvard Business Review article by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee.  An Interesting article about the importance of keeping calm in the midst of work chaos


Mindful marketing:  How does a mindful marker deal with new challenges?   Eight steps in mindful marketing

Meditation goes to work   A growing number of workers in the United States are employing Eastern philosophies and practices to handle the stresses of daily work and living. Increasingly, employers are making such alternative treatments available to their workers.

Mindfulness in the workplace Studies of Mindfulness in a business context have shown that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased burnout. This article discusses mindfulness in the workplace and suggests some mindful exercises to try. Posted on 1st March 2010 on Stressless and Mindfulness.


Mindfulness in the workplace: Research paper by  Donald W. McCormick.  This paper examines the effects mindfulness has on people's work lives. Analysis of the interviews suggest that persons who practice mindfulness may have more external awareness at work; be more accepting of their work situation; have more modest,realistic work goals; be more selfless; be less concerned with material acquisition and wealth; have a more internal locus of evaluation; be more likely to derive meaning in life from more sources than just work; be better able to cope and remain calm in difficult work situations; be more likely to experience work difficulties as challenges than threats; enjoy their work more; be more adaptable at work; and have more positive interpersonal relations at work.


Perspectives on Mindfulness for Managers   By Ben Bryant; Jeanny Wildi
IMD, Vol 162, September, 2008 "At the centre of the hurricane of economic globalisation is the quiet space of mindfulness - a philosophy and practice which helps those exercising leadership to situate themselves calmly in the eye of the hurricane, where they are able to tap into the clarity and creativity necessary to ensure wisdom in decision-making, and focused, authentic leadership."  

Mindfulness and Mastery in the Workplace : 21 ways to reduce stress during the workday Saki Santorelli at Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society gives 21 invitation on how to cultivate mindfulness in the workplace

The effects of Low-Dose Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction on Working Adults This study assessed the effects of a shortened work-site MBSR intervention on indicators of stress in healthy working adults to determine if results similar to those obtained in traditional MBSR could be demonstrated. Significant reductions in perceived and increases in mindfulness were obtained only by the group practicing MBSR


The centre for contemplative mind in society  has Programs  dealing with mindfulness and other contemplative practices in higher education, business, law, and social justice.


The Construct of Mindfulness, Journal of Social Issues, Spring, 2000 by Ellen J. Langer & Mihnea Moldoveanu.  This paper details research of mindfulness in a business context

The neuroscience of mindfulness outlines some of the problems in teaching mindfulness to executives.  David Rock says "Speaking to an executive about mindfulness therefore can be a bit like speaking to a classical musician about jazz. It might look like they could play a little Coltrane, because they deal in sounds, but they don't really have the circuits for it. We don't take well to learning new skills, especially in later life, and any reason to not focus on a new skill, like it being linked to a religion other than yours, doesn't help".

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Mindfulness in the workplace: media clips

Featured Video: How Mindfulness Improved Business and Career.

Two business leaders talk about how Mindfulness has helped them in their business lives. Although the video is clearly a testimonial for Ronald Alexander, it provides some excellent examples of how mindfulness can help business leaders.


Mindfulness in coaching

Using mindfulness to dealing with emotions in coaching

Training Journal article published in December 2009: "In the last of our series looking at the emotions likely to be dealt with during coaching, Gladeana McMahon and Patrizia Collard focus on mindfulness"

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Being here: Mindfulness based cognitive coaching

Mindfulness-based cognitive coaching is a new intervention, but one that is delivering increased control and happiness in clients' lives, say Patrizia Collard and Gladeana McMahon

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Mindfulness for coaches course

The Mindfulness for Coaches Course is aimed at business coaches, consultants, trainers and other professionals who train clients to function effectively in high performance environments.

On this course particular attention is paid to the quality of present moment attention. You will learn to be with your clients and yourself in new and creative ways, discovering new ways of listening for and attending to the quieter intuitions of your heart and the vital sensory cues of your body. You will explore new ways of knowing and new ways of being - following your own moment to moment experience.

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