Mindfulness and its potential to drive security performance: what are the opportunities and drawbacks
Chair: Martin Gill
Dr. Rodney King PhD, M.A., RSME, M.ISRM – Founder of Primal Skillz: The Art of Self-Reliance (Singapore)
Becci Godfrey – Personal and Professional Development Coach at Mind Detox (UK)
Christian De Quincey – Founder and President at The Wisdom Academy (US)
Dr Rodney King defines mindfulness as ‘being in the moment’ and ‘being at one’s best’, and ‘being aware’. While these may be familiar he makes an additional key point, in that all of this is of less value if at the same time the individuals lack the tools to respond to that awareness. To that extent the benefits have been hyped. There is an interesting discussion about the different types of meditation and the differences with mindfulness. Rodney emphasises why this is important for the security sector, and gives the example of understanding what happens to your body in a crisis, one can start to breathe heavily and fast, and it needs to be managed for optimal effectiveness. There is a two-stage process here, recognising the problem (and mindfulness is key) is a prerequisite to responding effectively. As he summaries it provides a gap between the stimulus and response which can be crucial, but especially in pressurised contexts. Not everyone is suitable for mindfulness training, it can have a negative impact, all facilitators have a duty to check each participant, and while this is always the case, it is no less relevant when thinking specifically about security.
Becci Godfrey would prefer us to talk about meditation rather than mindfulness, and that there are lots of practices which vary in emphasis and approach. However, she notes that this is not an unqualified good, it benefits only some people and can make those not suitable, ready or prepared feel uneasy or overwhelmed; checking the fit of the person to the process is important. People need to be invited and it cannot be imposed, and she likens it to a diet, you have to choose to engage with it to benefit. She encourages people and organisations to engage, there are benefits in everyday life but also for how one performs at work. A key aspect is to give people the opportunity so they understand what they can gain and what they need to do. This remains a topic around which there is still much myth.
Christian De Quincey approaches this topic from a philosophical perspective. It is important to feel our thinking, to explore the relationship between feelings and thoughts. Although for many mindfulness and meditation are seen as interchangeable, they are different albeit they share similarities with each other and with other approaches such as those relating to emotional intelligence and self-awareness. There is a sense in which mindfulness can be engaged with anywhere, whereas meditation often takes the form of being in a particular pose or context, put like this it makes mindfulness more relevant to security. Although this is an area with a long history many are sceptical, connecting to one’s inner self is not something many people are au fait with, that may in part explain some scepticism. That said, there is much to be gained by encouraging people to trust their inner wisdom.
This engaging webinar generated a great discussion on both the usefulness of mindfulness as a concept and the ways it can be applied, from leadership roles to frontline work. The potential – at least to our panel – is not in doubt, but there are steps that need to be taken to engage the security world in its merits, that said it needs to be done carefully, what we learn is that there are drawbacks if people are not engaged in the right way.
16th February 2021