The Driving Force Behind Awareness in Action
My passion for this work stems from my ten years of intensive training in how to apply mindfulness, meditation and compassion to running Rigpa, an international non-profit organization.
Although I had been a Buddhist for many years I had always made a subtle distinction between my working life and my mind training. The challenge to apply what I learnt on the cushion to my work in Rigpa illustrated the limitations of this view.
I discovered that seeing all activity as an opportunity to train my mind in meditation and compassion increased my own sense of focus and wellbeing. It enabled me to overcome deep-seated habits in how I interacted with other people.
These insights inspired me to find a way to share these techniques more widely with people who perhaps had no interest in Buddhism but wanted to bring their best selves to their work and to succeed as people as well as employees.
This is what the work of Awareness in Action is all about.
Maureen presenting the work of Awareness in Action at the Empathy and Compassion conference in London Oct 2013
‘The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress’ by Maureen Cooper
There is a direct link between the satisfaction of using our energy in a beneficial way to society and experiencing a reduction in our own stress – and this link can become a spiral as we see more and more that our wellbeing and the wellbeing of each person on the planet is intricately connected.
At Awareness in Action we are delighted at the publication of this book, which applies our approach to one of the major current challenges of our time—stress. Stress is an unavoidable part of life that we will all encounter at various times in our lives—particularly at work. How we deal with stress will influence the extent to which it affects us, and those around us. This book explores how to transform our habitual ways of responding to stress by training ourselves in self-awareness through mindfulness and meditation thereby improving our sense of control and wellbeing. This is a first step in developing compassion for ourselves, without which it is hard to be truly compassionate to others. From this basis we can begin to develop awareness of other people and their needs and to view them from a compassionate standpoint. These are skills that are essential for us both in our working life, and our private and family life—and indeed for the whole world.
This autumn we begin with a series of workshops based on the book.
Managing your mind in order to manage your working life
It is only too easy to blame outer circumstances as the cause of difficulties at work. Awareness in Action training focuses on enabling people to make the connection between what is going on for them internally with their thoughts and emotions and what is happening to them externally in their jobs.
Choosing how you want to react
Stuck patterns of thoughts and emotions block creativity, the capacity to respond to change and the ability to problem solve. Reacting emotionally to a situation means seeing only 10% of the situation clearly, leading to miscommunication, and errors. Our training helps employees to identify their habits and choose how they want to react to situations. This defuses their inner time bomb of frustration and stress and makes it possible for an organization to move from an embattled communication style to one of engagement.
Sustainability from the individual to the organization
The tools that Awareness in Action offers in order to manage the mind are mindfulness, meditation and compassion training. Through this training employees can develop high levels of self-sufficiency, independence and responsibility and become more able to manage the challenges of their work environment. The changes that these techniques bring about on an individual level naturally influence the team level, and impact the level of the organization as a whole.
Secular applications backed by current scientific research
There is a growing body of research that backs up the effectiveness of these techniques in modern, secular environments. Neuroscientists are investigating the effects of meditation and compassion training on the brain and are discovering positive indications in terms of working with emotions, depression, anxiety, resilience and health.