A busy warehouse filled with the incessant beeping of warning tones from forklift trucks might not seem like a suitable setting in which to practice mindfulness.
However, staff and volunteers at food distribution charity Fare Share South West (FSSW) have learned how to perform the popular meditation – in which participants focus on being in the moment and being acutely aware of what they are sensing and feeling – in an online session with Charlotte Wiseman, an applied positive psychology and leadership consultant known for her pioneering approach to mental fitness in the workplace.
The session was arranged by the team at the Bristol office of commercial property specialist Colliers, which have chosen FSSW as their charity for 2021 and wanted to provide practical support in addition to fundraising.
Jo Edwards, head of the Bristol office of Colliers, explained: “Charlotte had visited our office previously to give a presentation on using mindfulness at work, and we decided to arrange for her to give an online session for the team at FSSW who have been under huge pressure because the pandemic has resulted in unprecedented demand for their services.”
During the session for FSSW, Charlotte spoke of how she started practising mindfulness after experiencing extreme stress during her busy career in the fashion industry, and achieved so many positive benefits that she studied for an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology and then changed to her present mental health coaching career.
She explained that mindfulness was about “being aware of what we are thinking of and then choosing to focus upon the present moment”, and advised the team on breathing techniques that could help them to do this even in their noisy warehouse.
“Instead of trying to ignore the sound of the forklift trucks, become really aware of them,” she said. “Focus on how you are hearing from your left and your right, from above and below, and from behind and in front.
“Try to bring mindfulness into your lives by using it in everyday settings with things you already do, such as taking a shower or a bath, or eating, or having your morning coffee. Commit to doing one mindfulness activity in this way for about three minutes every day for a week, and check in with each other about the effects that you feel.”
Phoebe Ruxton, Head of Development at FSSW, said afterwards: “The session with Charlotte was both informative and enjoyable for all of the team, many of whom hadn’t known much about mindfulness before and so found it very useful.
“Everyone said afterwards that it was very well delivered, and we are very grateful to Charlotte for delivering the session and to Colliers for providing this support to our charity as part of our partnership.”