An example from the Findhorn Foundation and Community
In the Findhorn Foundation Community, every workday or meeting starts with a short meditation and check-in. Before starting with their tasks, team members meet in a circle and spend a few moments in silence, listening within, noticing how they are, connecting to the larger purpose of their work together, and focusing their intention and awareness on the present moment, the group they are with and the tasks at hand. Each team member then shares a few words about how they are in that moment, and sometimes about the work they plan to do, and who they will do it with. When all team members have checked in, work starts. The length of the meditation and the check-in depends on the group and its need, but could take from five to thirty minutes.
This practice has two parts that can also be used separately.
Take a break in silence before you or your group start an activity.
Focus your attention on the present moment and become aware of your inner state, physically as well as emotionally and mentally. It might help to close your eyes. Use your senses to become aware of the group you are with, and the intention for doing what you are doing, individually and together. Use some form of signal for when group members should stop the activity. This can be a bell, a sound, a squeeze of the hands or anything else that works for you. The time can similarly be adjusted to what you feel is right for your group.
Check in by quickly sharing with your group or team how you are in the current moment. This is often done with words, but can be expressed as a movement, sound or in any other way that works for the group. Pay attention or listen mindfully to your team members as they check-in. Let the check-in inform how the team works together that day.
Impact on the individual
Incorporating moments of awareness and check-ins into everyday life encourages group members to pause, reflect, connect with the intention and purpose of what they are doing, and openly share their inner state with others. This can support each person’s understanding of their own needs and emotions. For many, it also builds trust, empathy and understanding the needs of others and the diversity of experiences present in the group. Increasing awareness in turn supports the group to work together in ways that care for each individual, each other, the group and the project.
Engaging in moments of awareness and check-ins can also be challenging. Maybe one person is used to suppressing their emotions in order to be more efficient at work. Maybe another is convinced that revealing their inner emotional life will make them a target for attack or ridicule. A third person might find it hard to listen to the check-ins of others without taking their words personally. A fourth may think it is a waste of time and that the group should just get on with the work.
Does efficiency have to come at the price of personal connections and nurturing relationships? Are we more or less capable of working together when we also spend time reflecting and sharing? Are we valued as individuals only when we present a polished surface, or do we increase our sense of self and value by opening up to others? These are all questions that influence how people experience and engage with moments of awareness and check-ins. They also apply directly to collective beliefs or assumptions held by the group.
Influence on community
Moments of awareness and check-ins can be a powerful way to practice communication skills and increase community glue. The awareness and open communication fostered can serve as an early detection system for discontent or conflict within the group. Checking-in can also be an opportunity to celebrate good news together. By choosing to regularly do something together, the group can strengthen its identity and group culture, contributing to a sense of belonging and continuity.
Intentions that inform practice
Moments of awareness and check-ins can be seen as a small everyday ritual. Like all rituals, they function as an enactment and reminder of the worldview and vision that guide the group or project as a whole. Adding moments of awareness and check-ins could, for example, reflect an intention to create a group culture where each person’s authentic self is considered valuable and welcomed into collaboration with others, where transparent communication is seen as key to efficient collaboration, community building and personal growth, and where regularly reflecting on personal and collective intentions for coming together to do things is valued.
The importance of structure
Moments of awareness and check-ins can happen spontaneously, but have the greatest impact when they are embraced as regular aspects of how people meet, work together or engage in common activities. Making them a regular part of meetings provides a clear framework for personal reflection, open communication, emotional connection, celebration, and increasing community glue. All of these then provide the ground for organising work or making decisions in efficient but caring ways.