Mindfulness and Stand Up Paddle-boarding: a fresh perspective for staff-training

How can mindfulness and stand-up paddle boarding help a business? Staff training is often in a drab office with a flip chart, some data, and possibly a dry sandwich and too much coffee. By applying ancient techniques of mindfulness and by being in the natural environment through stand-up paddle boarding we found a new way to positively impact staff with a shared team experience that fuels new ideas and a fresh perspective.

“Focusing on each breath allowed me to observe my thoughts as they arose and provided a space to reflect and share”

 

Mindfulness training, Jake Boex

The use of Mindfulness at Google and Apple amongst other companies has been shown to be highly effective for managing stress and perhaps more interestingly improving positivity and creativity. Staff with improved wellbeing perform better (1). Mindfulness techniques are based on yogic and meditative principles, by using the breath and gentle body movements our thoughts are more easily witnessed, allowing a valuable opportunity to better understand ourselves. By exploring and sharing work situations and in the past present and future fresh perspectives emerge, a group dynamic develops through enhanced collaboration and a shared view results in team cohesion. Next, with a clear mind and calm perspective, applying newly learnt techniques of present moment awareness, we emerge ourselves into the challenging environment of the rocky coast of West Cornwall. 

Stand-up paddle boarding, Chris Ranford

It is suggested that people are happier and reinvigorated when spending time in more natural settings. As exciting as the prospect of a pay rise, a faster car or bigger house can be, studies show that the level of happiness will always fade and return to a baseline. Escaping urban areas or the office and becoming a part of nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety (2, 3). Taking this idea into the ocean not only affirms that feeling, but considerably raises the bar. Opening yourself to ocean swells, cool offshore winds and an ever running tide encourages one to be totally in the present. SUP is a relatively new concept to getting out on the ocean, but ultimately its a vessel. A vessel that will get you out of your office chair and standing upright on the sea to explore the marine and coastal environment, away from modern life distractions. Whilst equipping people with the basic safety knowledge and paddling technique the idea of guiding is to give people the space to explore, not only the stunning surroundings, but explore their own ability and test their comfort levels in a fun, but ever-changing environment. A SUP is a fantastic tool to explore stretches of coast that are otherwise off limits and offers an excellent bonding experience due to the relaxed standing position, slow pace and novelty of being out on the ocean. 

Client feedback, Chloe Northcoatt

The day was a great way to engage with colleagues outside of the workplace and have a chance to focus on both personal and group development. Jake led us in a time of yoga, meditation and discussion encouraging us to become aware of changes in our physical and emotional state. Focusing on each breath allowed me to observe my thoughts as they arose and provided a space to reflect and share. Jake is a fantastic teacher and was inclusive of all abilities in the group. The discussion provided a welcome opportunity to share individual goals as well as reflect on our approach to work life in an informal setting. The afternoon led by Chris was a great exercise in team building. Whilst Chris oversaw the route we took, he gave us the freedom to explore and enjoy time together. With a range of abilities, Chris supported everyone's needs and we came away with a fresh perspective on life. 

 

Jake Boex www.yoga-meditation.co.uk  Chris Ranford www.roamcornwall.com Chloe Northover www.boex.co.uk 

Images by Nick Pumphrey www.nickpumphrey.com 

1. Blog post, 2016, Why Mindfulness is Big is business, www.yoga-meditation.co.uk/thoughts/why-is-mindfulness-being-used-in-business 

2. Nature Maters Conference 2016 https://www.srcf.ucam.org/bluesci/2016/10/nature-matters-2016/ 

3. Interview with Laurie Parma, 2016, ‘Nature and Happiness’, https://soundcloud.com/simon-moore-116765676/laurie-parma