Mindfulness and the #metoo movement

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The latest blog from Liz&Luis

January 2018

As we write this, they’re still flooding in. Hordes of revelations about well-known public figures sexually harassing and abusing colleagues and employees. Thousands of personal stories from mainly, but not solely, women, of being subjected to such treatment, all shared under the #metoo hashtag.

As momentum builds, it seems we may have reached a tipping point for change. But what’s all this got to do with mindfulness?

We believe that mindfulness training is ideally suited to bringing about transformation in the workplace and wider society, and that this applies here too. Here are some areas where it can contribute to positively shifting relationships and the power balance:

  • Self awareness and self management

Practising mindfulness prompts us to question our own assumptions- beliefs and reference points we’ve taken on that may no longer be valid, if they ever were. We become more able to see more clearly- patterns and blind spots in ourselves, in others, in the systems in which we operate. These may include gender inequality, cultures in which sexual harassment is normalised, and/or in which whistleblowing is actively discouraged, as has been the case in the entertainment business. Once we have clarity, we can then choose what to keep and what to let go of. We become better able to manage ourselves, and thus less likely to take our aggression out on others.

  • Kindness and empathy

We highlighted the power of ‘kindfulness’ and its connection with mindfulness in our last blog. Mindfulness helps us be more accepting of, and to feel more kindly towards, ourselves, and others. Thus we may be less likely to get trapped into a toxic power dynamic where we’re treating others badly in a bid to feel better about ourselves. And if we have crossed boundaries, we can more easily make peace with that and make amends. Mindfulness helps us develop compassion, which is a wonderful antidote to shame.

  • Finding our centre and aligning with values

Mindfulness can help us be more grounded, and thus more responsive rather than reactive. In addition to being less likely to treat others badly, if someone treats us badly, instead of running away or reacting aggressively, we can find it easier to stand firm, to share our story. If we practice mindfulness, we’re more likely to be aligned with our true values too (Hall, 2015 in Mindfulness in Organizations: Foundations, Research, and Applications), and thus more likely to want to call out undesirable behaviour and not be a fearful bystander.


·      Turning towards difficulty

Very often, underlying sexual aggression are ‘difficult’ feelings such as fear and anger, and painful thoughts such as “I’m not good enough.” Mindfulness helps us be open and curious about what’s really going on for us, giving us a chance to process this, and pressing the pause button so we don’t act out of pain, for example.

  • Changing culture

Where mindfulness becomes part of an organisational culture and leadership approach, this is typically characterised by open-ness, curiosity, kindness and so on. Such an environment offers many more opportunities for systemic culture change, opening up and shifting the dialogue around relationships, including in the arena of gender, highlighting what’s acceptable in how we treat one another and choose to show up, and enabling authentic conversations, collaboration, mutual appreciation and respect, and embracing diversity.

Mindfulness Blog by Liz&Luis 

Liz Hall and Luis San Martin are co-founders of the International Summit for Mindfulness & Compassion at Work. They offer tailor made mindfulness programmes for business.

Email: mindfulcoaches@gmail.com

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The mindful coach´s manifesto

I will seek where appropriate to……..

  • Practice mindfulness (including meditation) regularly (preferably daily)
  • Take a systemic approach to coaching, ´being mindful´ of the wider systems in which my clients and I operate
  • Approach coaching (and life in general) with non-judgement; open-ness; curiosity, and compassion
  • Prepare mindfully for each coaching session
  • Share mindfulness practices within coaching sessions and as ‘homework’ where useful and appropriate for the client
  • Attend (not solely) to the present in all coaching interactions (thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, happenings- both on my part and on the part of my client)
  • Not to be overly-attached to outcome, for myself or clients


(Liz Hall, 2012, www.lizhallcoaching.com)


Liz Hall Coaching can be contacted by:

Telephone: 0844 209 2157

Skype: liz.hall2

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About Liz Hall


Liz Hall has been the editor of Coaching at Work since it launched in 2005. Formerly owned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Liz mounted a successful management buy-out of the business in 2009. She won the Association for Coaching’s 2010-11 Award for Impacting the Coaching Profession.

Liz presented her research on Mindfulness in Coaching at the European Mentoring & Coaching Council’s annual research conference in July 2012. Her first book, Mindful Coaching, was published by Kogan Page in April 2013.

Her coaching client work focuses on areas including meaning and purpose, career transition, work/life balance, stress management/ wellbeing & resilience, emotional intelligence, embodied leadership and authenticity. Mindfulness, transpersonal and somatic coaching are all major influences for Liz.She has worked with clients from a range of backgrounds, from organisations including Green Alliance, Sustrans, KPMG, NCR, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the NHS, Portsmouth University, Boundstone College (now the Sir Robert Woodard Academy) and Reed Business Information.

She has run/is running events on mindfulness, including one-day or half-day CPD events, for organisations including the NHS, the BBC and i-coach academy. She runs Mindful Coaching workshops in the UK- one-day events for coaches to explore how to work mindfully in their practice.

She is in demand to speak on coaching and mindfulness , speaking at events including Henley Business School’s coaching conference (2013), OCM’s annual CPD event (2013 and 2011), Association for Coaching Ireland (2013), Coaching at Work´s annual conference in 2012, the Instructional Coaching Conference in Kansas University in 2012.

Liz is currently working on her second book, on coaching in times of crisis, and has written other publications including the Employers Guide to Employee Screening. 
She is contributing a chapter on mindfulness to Developing Mental Toughness in Young People for the 21st Century by Doug Strycharczyk and Peter Clough. She collaborates with her husband Ray Freeman, a trained .b teacher (Mindfulness in Schools Project) to foster mindfulness in young people.

Liz is a graduate of the i-coach academy Certificate in Coaching Practice programme (accredited by EMCC at Senior Practioner level), Performance Coach Training’s Open certificate and the Centre for Coaching’s Primary Certificate in CBT. She is a licensed career coach (Firework and holds a Primary Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).  CPD and supervision are very important for her. One of her supervisors is Eunice Aquilina. Every year, Liz attends numerous coaching courses and conferences, with particular interest in mindfulness, somatics, narrative and transpersonal coaching

Liz has a background in business, HR and health journalism spanning 25 years. She is an award-winning journalist, having won or been shortlisted for awards including from the Periodical Publishers Association and Reed Business Information. She has written for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Observer, Campaign, Hospital Doctor, Doctor, Occupational Health, Spirituality & Health, Mandala magazine, Employment Law, Personnel Today, People Management, Community Care, and Practice Nurse. She has worked as editor/deputy editor/features editor/news editor on publications including Personnel Today, Recruit, Doctor, Hospital Doctor. She enjoys creating and developing successful editorial products; networking, and nurturing, managing and motivating creative teams.

Loving kindness meditation

Find a comfortable position somewhere where you won’t be disturbed for ten minutes or so, preferably sitting upright, with your back straight but not rigid or arched. You may like to sit cross-legged on a cushion or you may prefer to sit in a chair. If you need to do the practice lying down, that’s ok, it’s just more likely you will struggle to stay alert.

Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes or gaze in an unfocused way as if you’re looking at something half-heartedly in the distance, relax your shoulders, perhaps move your jaw about to make sure it’s not clenched.

Set your intention and motivation for this practice, maybe something about this being time for you, giving yourself permission to take this time out, and about cultivating compassion for yourself as well as others.


Turning your mind to yourself, deserving of love, just doing the best you can.  Staying with this. It may be hard, sometimes we find ourselves so very hard to love and feel compassion for. If it’s difficult to extend loving-kindness to yourself, just staying with that if you can, trying to avoid piling on further judgements or evaluations.  If it’s really too hard, moving into thinking about a loved one- a person or a pet- and then moving back to yourself. This is a very important part of this practice and you may like to just do this first step a number of times before going onto the next step.

Wishing yourself the following (you may like to change the wording):

May I be free from suffering

May I be well

May I be happy

May I have love and be loved


Welcoming each statement into your heart. Really feeling the message. Noticing how you’re responding, what is going on for you. Staying with this as long as you wish before moving onto the next step.


The loved one

Now bringing into your mind somebody you love, perhaps a partner or a child or a dear friend, or even a pet, a creature you find easy to love. Imagining them in your mind’s eye before you. Again, they are just doing the best they can.  As you did with yourself, wishing them the following:


May you be free from suffering

May you be well

May you be happy

May you have love and be loved


Staying with this as long as you wish, radiating loving kindness and good intent to this person. If they have done or said something to you recently that you didn’t like, finding it in your heart to forgive them if you can.


Someone neutral

When you’re ready, extending your loving-kindness to someone ‘neutral’, someone you have no strong feelings for of any kind, perhaps someone you saw at the bus stop or who was in the same shopping queue as you, or who you saw walking their dog earlier.  Visualising them in front of you as best you can. And as you did with yourself and a loved one, saying to them in your mind :


May you be free from suffering

May you be well

May you be happy

May you have love and be loved


‘The enemy’

Finally, and this one can be tricky too, conjuring up in your mind someone you have negative feelings for. It’s easier to start with someone you just find mildly annoying and work your way up to someone you hate or deem to be your arch enemy, if there is someone like that in your life. You may hate them or just find them rather annoying, or unpleasant.


Again, imagining this person in front of you, being their ‘hateful’, ‘annoying, ‘unpleasant’ self. Reminding yourself that these are just your perceptions which may have no bearing on ‘reality’ whatsoever.  Tapping into how they, like everyone else, are just trying their best to be happy. They want happiness just like you. Just like you, they don’t want to suffer. You may like to try to imagine them when they were young or tap into how child-like we all are beneath the veneer of adulthood. If they’ve done or said something to upset you, trying to find it in your heart to forgive them (this may be one step too far at this stage). Staying with meaning them no harm at the very  least. And if you can, wishing them what you’ve wished for others:


May you be free from suffering

May you be well

May you be happy

May you have love and be loved


All beings

Now extending that same loving kindness to all beings on the planet, including all your loved ones, strangers and those you find difficult, and, of course, yourself,


May all beings be free from suffering

May all beings be well

May all beings be happy

May all beings have love and be loved.

Body scan

Focus: set your intention to set aside this time for yourself to practice for 10-20 minutes! Sitting or lying comfortably, back straight but not rigid, jaw and shoulders relaxed. Bringing your attention to your body, starting with:

Your feet: noticing what’s there, are they cold or hot? Any tingling, any pain? Noticing your socks/tights/shoes against your feet, feeling where your feet touch the floor/bed. Not getting drawn in by any judgements, just exploring, noticing what is, embracing and sitting with what’s there gently, with curiosity and compassion. If you can’t feel anything, if there’s numbness, that’s OK, just noticing, embracing, letting go. If your mind wanders, congratulating yourself for noticing and bringing your attention back to the practice.

Moving your focus to your ankles, repeating as above…to your shins & calves….to your knees….to your thighs…to your pelvis….to your backside on the bed/seat….to your lower back, noticing any pain or contraction with curiosity, compassion, non-judgement….your stomach, likewise,…your chest, ditto….your shoulders. Being aware that we build storylines around everything, including pain, just being curious and noticing what’s there….your neck, your face…moving down to your arms, your forearms, your hands and fingers.

And when you’re ready, coming out of the practice.