At Vienna Media Group, we’ve been ruminating lately about mindfulness and how it fits into some of the training programs that we have under development. For some time, mindfulness has become a well-publicized tool for increased self-awareness, but importantly is also a technique used to gain better awareness of the environment that surrounds us. It is with this application that we are most interested as a means of improving worker skills.
So much has been written about mindfulness. The trendiness of the subject, as well as ties to Eastern philosophy, can be off-putting for some more straightforward, traditional, or down-to-earth people. Mindfulness is also often described as a component of or another term for situational awareness. It is in this framework that we feel applying mindfulness on-the-job is most useful.
Detailing the benefits of mindfulness or situational awareness is beyond the scope if this brief article, but it is not difficult to research this with a Google search. Let it suffice to say here that we are all often too internally-focused and not seeing what is going on around us. Or we may be so tunnel-versioned or opinionated, or limited in the use of all our senses that we miss opportunities for new and valuable experiences. This can be seen as the useful core of mindfulness and situational awareness.
Learning any new skill, including mindfulness, is best accomplished with practice - in and especially outside the classroom. Learners may actually find that these techniques are not so new or unusual, but one may not have used them with great effectiveness previously.
And practicing mindfulness for on-the-job applications, such as safety awareness, should have direct relevance to and application to the end use. So, while practicing traditional slow breathing techniques may improve general mindfulness, it is better to find methodologies that can be more easily applied to the real world the student works and lives in.
Just a few key principles that should be used to improve awareness skills:
Again, while some of the required skills can be practiced in a classroom, providing for on-the-job practice, over time, is critical. And don't forget evaluation. Having contact with and regular monitoring from an experienced mentor, supervisor, or trainer, will help focus the mindfulness/awareness training, plus assure effectiveness of the overall training program.