The Chattering Monkey on your shoulder. Mindfulness for researchers and consultants

‘Application of Mindfulness in Post-pandemic Era’ is the title of session 506 at the Acadamy of Management (AOM) 2021 Meeting. Looks interesting, so I added the session to my schedule in the Agenda app. And it turns out to be one of my best decisions lately. I want to share some of my takeaways. Mindfulness is more important than ever. Not only for our personal life, also in the context of research projects and organisational change processes.

The Chattering Monkey on our shoulder

Param Srikantia shows us how easily we observe the world through the lenses of our own knowledge. A Chattering Monkey sits on our shoulder and tells us how to look at things when doing research and giving advice. It makes us put on several lenses, preventing to see other values, driving us to the idea that we know what is good for other people and thus replicate colonisation. Only when we are prepared to renounce the thing most dear to scholars and inquirers, our knowledge, we can observe with an open mind, and be mindful. Param Srikantia is a professor at the Baldwin Wallace University’s School of Business in Ohio. Also see his TEDX talk ‘Why Life Sucks’. I selected the part of his presentation where he demonstrates how the Chattering Monkey works in giving advice, see the video.

Mindfulness in organisational contexts

Tojo Thatchenkery and Ellen Keithline Byrne did research on the value of mindfulness in organisational contexts. It contributes to awareness and consciousness, and to wiser decisions. When we are unmindful we think in polarities. High and low, mountains and valeys, good and bad. When we are mindful, we see that everything is connected. Mindfulness also supports creativity, because you develop flexibility and access to unconscious knowledge. On Youtube there are many mindfulness exercises that help you become more aware of the present. But. Param also emphasizes that doing mindfulness is a contradiction. Mindfulness occurs when you stop doing everything, and it can be part of everything you do. Excersises help cultivating the soil of consicousness in which the seeds of mindfulness can grow. When you want to become a skilled ‘agriculturer’, he recommends reading the Book of Secrets, by OSHO, with 112 meditations to discover the mystery within. I was intrigued and ordered the book. It looks like a bible, containing 1152 pages of thin paper. Plenty of wisdom to study and practice :).

Creating my own AOM meeting experience

The AOM meeting 2021 was from 30 July to 4 August, online. Because I miss going to conferences, I thought ‘Okay, I can’t go to the US for the meeting, but I still can go to a hotel and enjoy the luxury of four days on my own, attending sessions whenever I like’. So I booked a hotel in Oisterwijk, not far from where I live in the Nethelands. A beautiful environment with forests and ponds. I combined attending sessions, not more than two per day, with long walks and writing in my professional logbook, which I like to call ‘laughbook’. I created an indoor workplace and an outdoor workplace. It made me happy to reflect on the last years and it brought me new insights for the next years. Highly recommended!

Indoor workplace
Indoor workplace
Outdoor workplace
Outdoor workplace
On golden pond (one of my favorite films)