Here at SW+A we’re thinking a little differently about employee engagement. We call our approach “Spirit of 32” and this blog series will chronicle our journey. We’ll share what we’re learning along with resources you can leverage. We’ll be your test bed so if you have ideas, please let us know.

By Sarah Liverance

I just have to brag about my coworkers. I’ve always known they’re smart, hard-working, ambitious (in a good way) and nice. And I also know they’re creative problem solvers. But artistic creativity? Not the first thing that would come to mind.

Now that’s changing. At our recent mid-year onsite, we kicked off our Mindfulness initiative and decided to incorporate an art exercise into our day. It seemed to fit since we know mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment and that seems to be something that art demands of us.

We planned our art exercise with the expert help of Nancy Macdonald, founder of the Art Studio For Children. Nancy came up with the brilliant analogy of a tightrope walker. Life really is a three-ring circus and if we can find a way to rise above all the chaos, noise and distraction, we’ll be well on our way to living more mindfully. Of course, staying up there on that tightrope is much easier said than done so we each came up with a mantra – a word or phrase that we’ll call on when we start feeling overwhelmed.

Nancy provided all the materials and expert guidance that helped us bring our tightrope walkers and mantras to life through playful self-sculptures. Here’s just a sampling of what got created that afternoon:

1Cyndi

My Mantra: Focus

I am learning that multi-tasking is perhaps not the ‘ideal’ way of working and staying mindful.

Art & Mindfulness: 

It was surprisingly fun. Time passes quickly when you are so focused on creating something unique and unknown.

 

1Libier

My Mantra: Choiceful

I like it because I’m responsible for making my own choices. If I choose to do X it means I’m not going to do Y.

Art & Mindfulness:

In my art project I wanted to reflect that those choices are my responsibility and I’m happy with them. My only bad choice is not making a choice. Even if the outcome is not great, I will have something to learn and that should make me happy.

1Amber

My Mantra: Breathe

Life moves by so quickly. We run through the day’s events, react on autopilot and rarely take a moment to just stop…and take a breath. Reminding myself to just pause…and breathe…clears my mind and help me be fully present.

Art & Mindfulness: 

The art project reinforced it’s important to focus on one thing, to enjoy and take your time and to be inspired by what others are doing around you. From that, the creativity will flow!

1Meredith M.

My Mantra: Present

I’m rarely present. I’m thinking 10 steps ahead because that’s what we aim to do in client service. However it’s not always a good thing. You miss the details of the moment.

Art & Mindfulness: 

When you slow down and are present, you will notice things like the feel of the clay in your hands. The journey is just as important as the destination (or in this case the end result!). Kids live in the moment and enjoy it. Working with clay reminded me of being a kid again!

Carol

My Mantra: Be here now

Reminder to stay present (in fact I have a watch that is totally not functional and says ‘NOW’).

Art & Mindfulness:

Loved the art project!

  • When you enjoy something, it’s easier to focus and be mindful
  • Time flies when you’re focused/mindful
  • Creativity also flourishes
  • If you’re not mindful, you’ll end up with 6 toes

A little bit of magic happened the day three seemingly unrelated things came together: tightropes and art have taught us a whole lot about mindfulness.