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Q&A with Dr. Shauna Shapiro on the Power of Mindfulness & Compassion in the Workplace

Professor, author, and internationally recognized expert in mindfulness and compassion Shauna Shapiro, PhD, joined MindWell for a live webinar to discuss the power of mindfulness and compassion in the workplace.

Q&As from the webinar include:

What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

"Mindfulness is a way of being and living our moment to moment lives. Meditation is a way to develop and strengthen mindfulness, similar to going to a gym to strengthen muscles. Practicing meditation is part of mindfulness, however there are many ways to practice it. I like to use a very simple definition of mindfulness, 'paying attention in a kind and curious way, intentionally.'"

What do attitude, kindness and compassion have to do with mindfulness?

"What you practice grows stronger. If you’re practicing mindfulness with judgment, you’re just growing judgement, if you’re practicing with frustration, you’re just growing more frustration. You have to understand that mindfulness isn’t just about attention, but about how we pay attention. I’ve come to learn that kindness and compassion and ultimately attitude, are the most important parts of mindfulness.

Attitude is important from a physiological standpoint. When we are judging or criticizing ourselves, the learning centres of the brain shut down and shuttle all of our resources to survival pathways. What kindness, curiosity and compassion does is turn on those learning centres of the brain by bathing our system in dopamine and giving us the resources we need to change. By using this positive attitude with mindfulness, we can see parts of our lives that are not working and can make changes to lead to greater happiness and health."

What are the implications for mindfulness in the workplace?

"There are many [reasons to bring mindfulness into the workplace]. One is that mindfulness is good for us. It helps us sleep better, improves immune functioning, reduces stress, etc. It’s really effective just as a way to take care of people in the workplace and yet it goes way beyond that.

Mindfulness also increases our creativity, innovation and problem solving. We just finished a study at Stanford University demonstrating that in PhD Engineering students, mindfulness is significantly related to innovation and creativity. So not only does mindfulness help us take care of employee wellbeing, but it also gives them the skills they need in the workforce.

Beyond creativity and innovation, it also has significant implications for interpersonal relationships, including communication, empathy and compassion as well as increasing the sense of loyalty, connection and fidelity to the workplace. So much cost in the workplace is around interpersonal difficulty and also not having strong company loyalty."

Interested in learning more about mindfulness, mental health and well being? Check out our upcoming free webinars with a variety of experts!

Watch the full recording here:

If you're interested in learning more about Dr. Shapiro's work, you can visit her website at or watch her 2017 TEDx talk, which is rated one of the top 10 TED-talks on mindfulness and has received almost a million views.


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