Team Building: Using Mindfulness and Meditation

08/30/2016 02:39 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2017
teamwork solving a puzzle...
teamwork solving a puzzle...

The foundation of any team has to be based on trust - trust that every member is concerned about the welfare about the entire team and project and that no one is withholding information or has selfish motives in mind. If the team dynamics are not monitored, trust can easily deteriorate and cause disharmony and dysfunction within the group. It doesn't take a lot for a relationship to go south. Here are a few items to pay close attention to, to preserve and grow trust within your working unit.

Relationships

It's all about the relationships. If individuals on the team have positive and mature relationships, trust will naturally grow and the project has a much better chance of succeeding. However, we all know that relationships are never easy. A small disagreement over an idea can create a large relationship gap between two or more people. Right from the beginning, it's very important to implement the culture that "it's alright to disagree."

People have a tendency to gravitate towards others who agree with them and distance themselves from people they disagree with. In an office culture, this can lead to cliques, which can be very unhealthy. Cliques can cause entire groups of people to isolate themselves from others. As a result, gossip and office politics can take place resulting in people not freely sharing information with each other. Once the environment deteriorates far enough, it becomes increasingly difficult to hear another person's point of view with an open-mind, even if it's valid and useful. This can stifle the progress of the project.

Communication

A small miscommunication or misunderstanding can create distance between team members. The busier and more fast-paced our lives become, the greater the chance that a rushed communication is misinterpreted by others. With the increased usage of smart devices, it is becoming easier for us to communicate our thoughts to many people in a short amount of time. Often times, we are composing important messages while in a cab, a subway, or while running from one meeting to another or while running from one location to another. While the convenience is fantastic, the risk of not being fully present to the message vastly increases. Once we hit "send" it's hard to take back what was communicated. A rushed communication may lack sensitivity and confuse or even hurting the recipient.

How others interpret the communication depends on our personal relationship with them. If there is trust, then the communication will be received positively; however, if trust is lacking, then they may doubt the motivation behind the message and even its accuracy. So, once again, it depends on our relationships.

How Mindfulness and Meditation Can Help

Mindfulness is about being in the present moment and being aware of your emotions and how you're feeling in that moment. For example, if you're upset because of a previous interaction and are about to communicate with someone else, there's a strong chance that your message will be influenced by the emotions that you are experiencing. When we become disturbed or angry, our thought process becomes clouded and we lose clarity - naturally affecting our ability to respond in a composed manner. Too often, we reactively send a message in haste that could be disastrous.

Meditation can raise our current state of awareness and give us the clarity to not react to others or our environment. It can allow our mind to hold off on our responses until we are in a better space. A cluttered and frustrated mind is like a traffic jam with no movement or progress. The various breathing and focusing exercises involved with the meditation process clear the traffic in our mind and allow a steady and cohesive flow of thoughts to emerge. A clear mind can be compared to driving on an open highway without any obstacles or disturbances. With the amount of responsibilities we are constantly asked to juggle, it's not realistic to have a mind like that of an open highway, however, with a steady and consistent meditation practice, we can have this experience once in a while.

A neglected and undernourished mind can become irritable and quickly lose its ability to focus and concentrate. Meditating regularly builds the muscle of the mind and prepares us for the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead. Just like eating and proper sleep are vital for our daily physical functioning, meditating provides the same and much needed nourishment for the mind.

You can meditate by yourself, or even better, start your next team meeting with it and notice the difference. There are still those out there who aren't comfortable with meditation and might feel it's a "religious" practice reserved for monks. Tell them to find the nearest time machine and come to the year 2016 where they'll find powerful CEOs, athletes, and people of all walks of life meditating for a better life.