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Mindfulness Connected – Mark Leonard

November 5, 2018

I am taking a few moments to write a very brief appreciation of Mark Leonard and his work to use mindfulness training as a catalyst for team building and workplace cultural change.

Over the years I have only managed to grab the odd face to face conversation with Mark at conferences, and then to exchange a few mails or social media comments. But I have always been struck by his conviction that mindfulness, thoroughly blended with work on organisational culture, can [my paraphrase – I apologise] be tough on stress and and tough on the causes of stress.

As a member of the Potential Project organisation you would think that I would regard Mark as a “competitor”. Not least because Potential Project also seeks to effect changes to workplace culture by working with some of the world’s most senior business leaders [ see The Mind of the Leader ] and also because we teach mindfulness to people in the context of their team or business. But we also have the concept of co-creators. These are people who see the same potential (sic) for mindfulness and who are advocating it not just as their business, but because they see it as one of the most powerful change agents available to us, in a difficult world. I definitely see Mark as a co-creator. [ I also see this, by the way, in the charity that is the Mindfulness in Schools Project ]

Mark was involved in establishing the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, within Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, and in bringing the seminal ‘Frantic World’ mindfulness course into the workplace. I then watched with admiration when Mark founded and made explicit his manifesto for mindfulness as an agent of organisational and social change – going on to found Mindfulness Connected.

Mark’s subsequent work with staff at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) has become a case study for the concept of teaching ‘Group Mindfulness’. I was fortunate to see a presentation at the 2017 Mind and Matter conference by Mark, his team, and the team at the ROH that he had worked with . This included videos from other ROH team members. It painted a striking picture of the ‘virtuous circle’ between the value to the individuals of learning mindfulness as members of a group, and the value to the team/Department of being influenced by mindfulness. All in a very practical and robust way.

I think Mark is one of the leading voices currently advocating mindfulness as social change – and the scope for mindfulness teaching, and practice, to become a social movement in the UK and, indeed, in the West. It is a courageous position to take, in an ultimately  commercial environment. Tune in to Mark. Whether you ultimately agree or disagree with him, or his approach, he will challenge and develop your relationship with mindfulness… as a teacher or as a practitioner.

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