Mindful meditation. Mindful eating. Mindful walking. “Mindful” is everywhere for a reason—more people are starting to embrace the way they feel when they slow down, pay attention and absorb life instead of whizzing through it. A 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that the popularity of meditation increased more than threefold from 2012 to 2017. Yoga, another mindful practice, leapt from 9.5 percent to 14.3 percent.
But, as is often the case, the meetings industry is lagging. A recent Fast Company article estimated that half the time spent in meetings is wasted due to mindless chatter and a lack of focus. Here are four ways to change that.
1. Location, Location, Location
When Mind & Life Institute was searching for a location for its International Symposium for Contemplative Research, it chose Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass outside of Phoenix. Heather Cochrane, director of philanthropy at Mind & Life, says the property offered a unique combination of access to nature—it’s situated on the Gila River Indian Community reservation, surrounded by mountains and desert, and has a history-filled river winding through the property—and it’s not too far from the airport.
Outdoor meeting spaces are quiet, peaceful spots to meditate, practice group yoga or simply walk in peace. For instance, the 7,000-sq.-ft. Beehive Patio features a crackling adobe wood fireplace that Director of Event Management Andrew Riggs says works well for everything from executive dinners to sunrise qigong (a combination of moving, breathing and meditation) sessions.
When booking a space, Cochrane suggests asking the property if any other groups will be there at the same time. “Two years ago, there was a prom at our hotel,” she recalls. When scouting locations for the 2018 symposium, which had about 800 attendees, “we wanted a place where we knew we could have all or most of the venue.”
2. Lighting Matters
It’s great that you want to offer 6 a.m. yoga to help your group start the day focused and refreshed. But if it takes place in a basement room with no windows and harsh fluorescent lighting, it might not have the impact you’d like. InterContinental Los Angeles Century City at Beverly Hills has a Mindful Meetings space with a mix of ambient, natural and LED lighting to spark creativity. “Light is used strategically to foster a calming, relaxing environment that encourages a sense of well-being and allows meeting-goers to recharge throughout the day,” says Morgan Mardesich, director of group sales.
The hotel’s grand ballroom, for example, features customizable LED lighting, allowing the room to take on any look and feel, including a peaceful blue for yoga or meditation, or an energizing purple for group brainstorming sessions.