Lying down at the end of the lunch break to do a body scan with my colleagues. Starting the meeting with a breathing space and check-in. Just two of my experiences during my first team meeting at Breathworks.

Following a twenty-year career in the Civil Service, I recently left to pursue a more fulfilling lifestyle. I now work part time, as a facilitator, a mindfulness teacher, and - very excitingly - Programme Coordinator for Breathworks. I did my Mindfulness Teacher Training with Breathworks and I have always been a huge fan of the organisation, their values, ethos and mission. When the opportunity came up to apply for a part time role there, I jumped at the chance and was lucky enough to get the job.

As a former senior civil servant, I have both led and participated in many hundreds of team meetings. So I thought I knew about them when I travelled up to Manchester for my first Programme Team meeting in the Breathworks office. I had read the papers, I was excited to meet the rest of the team, and looking forward to getting started.

Walking into the office, I was greeted with hugs from my new colleagues. That never happens in the Civil Service! It’s a small team and everyone is busy. Instead of an atmosphere of stress, busyness and competition, I felt an overwhelming sense of kindness. People were listening to, respecting and supporting each other.

Coming from an organisation where bullying is tolerated (and I speak having been on the receiving end), and a few people are clearly more interested in their own status than in the work, this was a revelation. Of course, the vast majority of my former colleagues are kind, respectful, and want to make a difference, but it can be more difficult to act with integrity and kindness in a large and bureaucratic organisation.

So back to Breathworks and the team meeting. We started with a breathing space, so we could all ‘arrive’. We broke for lunch, and before we went back to the meeting, we listened to a recording of a body scan. People lay down on the floor or on the sofa or found a comfortable sitting position to do the practice. Refreshed, we went back for the rest of what was a productive meeting.

Taking time to recharge, practicing mindfulness together, listening to each other, practicing kindness and generosity. In my view, the more workplaces that had a culture of mindfulness, the happier people would be. There is a huge amount of research demonstrating that happier employees are more engaged, motivated, and productive.

If you are interested in how Breathworks can help you become a mindful workplace, check out their Mindful Workplace Programme.

Nicola Lowit