The first year of Australia21’s Mindful Futures Network has provided a jam-packed start to the mapping of mindfulness, empathy and compassion across Australia’s organisations. This last update for 2017 takes time to remind you why the Network focuses on those three things – particularly at a time that can be stressful for many people.
The Mindful Futures Network encompasses the attention building and stress reduction of mindfulness, the perspective taking of empathy, and the focus on alleviating suffering in compassion, because they are all essential for the challenging social connections required by organisations in a global world.
Investigations are now taking place into the range of how these particular skills and motivations are supporting higher levels of social intelligence and cooperation.
A just completed large-scale research study by Dr Tania Singer, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science and others, used three structural factors to conclude that social cognitive training can contribute to an increase in cooperation within group settings.
Their framework comprised mindfulness based attention and introspection; socio-affective skills (compassion and prosocial motivation); and socio-cogitative skills (cogitative perspective taking and cognitive empathy).
The findings from the ReSource Project have allowed Singer and her colleagues to conclude that targeted daily mental training can bring about structural changes in the brain, which in turn lead to improvements in social intelligence.
The most interesting aspect of this study is the finding that training in each of these domains, mindfulness, empathy and compassion, have different impacts – for example mindfulness works at an individual level, but if you want to have a positive impact at a societal or structural level you need to add in training at the socio-affective and socio-cognitive levels.
So mindfulness, empathy and compassion are all essential components for successful conflict resolution, cooperation, and social collaborations, and these findings have major implications for government, business, and community agencies.
Which is why the applications of these three functional domains are being investigated by Australia21, through a mapping process now well underway across Australia.
All these mapped projects provide examples of how Australian organisations are applying the new learning about the mind, to create improved economic, environmental and social systems. Advances in the science of the mind have implications for the skills and motivations required to improve decision-making, perspective-taking, deep-thinking, creativity, and higher levels of engagement in our public and private organisations.
Below are some recent examples.
PROSOCIAL aims to enhance group awareness, perspective-taking and purposeful cooperation through the framework of “the commons”. Outcomes are trust, wellbeing, group commitment and group satisfaction. The project has been systematically evaluted in one Australian federal government agency with extremely positive results. This joint project is between the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University; Binghamton University; University of Nevada Reno; and Prosocial Psychology. To learn more about this project click here, or contact Dr Paul Atkins on 0412 922 482.
Mindfulness in the Academy will seek to provide insight into the way mindfulness is present within the academy and the impacts these reflections and practices have on the work of higher education staff. The book will be published by Springer. To learn more about this project click here, or contact Associate Professor Narelle Lemon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0412 922 482 or Dr Sharon McDonough at email@example.com.
This project involves around 100 healthcare workers at Epworth Hospital being assessed – so as to explore what impact viewing material on common humanity has on their levels of compassion, perception of common humanity and perspective-taking. The study is run by Debbie Ling, Department of Social Work, Monash University and senior clinician, Epworth Rehabilitation, Melbourne. To learn more about this project click here, or contact Debbie Ling at Debbie.Ling@monash.edu
This program combines mindfulness, meditation, Brain Science (Dr Sarah Mackay), positive neuroplasticity and wellbeing (Dr Rick Hanson) and growth mindsets (Dr Carol Dweck), as well as literacy, numeracy, study skills and other school related skills. Benefits – To learn more about this project click here, or contact Kathy Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any other examples, please send them to email@example.com.
Australia21 needs your help to keep operating the Mindful Futures Network through 2018, so please support out End of Year Appeal.
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