Boaz’s Blog

Welcome to Boaz’s blog page.

Every month (except when on intensive silent mindfulness retreats) Boaz writes a report on ongoing resilience-oriented activities in humanitarian interventions and the world of Mindfulness practice. The areas of intervention are wide-reaching, and reflect Boaz’s scope of activity and interest. These reports are about 500-700 words long. Enjoy!

Happy at Work Forum Special

16 May 2018

Yesterday was a special day. My dear colleague Annika Mansson celebrated 10 years of founding her Happy & Work organisation. However, this is not just about her celebration, this is about celebrating the importance and worthiness of deepening happiness.

In the US Declaration of independence, which happens to be one of the most influential documents for the founding of Western democracy and participative politics, there is one code of particular relevance. It says that every citizen has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Isn’t it interesting that the pursuit of happiness is given as much weight as the right to life and liberty? What importance does this have for business?

The management science literature is now populating with a growing number of articles on the topic of happiness and well-being. It started with organisational psychologists such as Frederick Herzberg and his hygiene and motivating factors. Today we are working towards a tripartite model of progressively more profound forms of happiness (see figure 1).

Firgure 1. Tripartite model of individual & organisational happiness

This model has a few Greek terms. First there is hedonic pleasure, which literally means “delight”. Think about a nice meal at the cafeteria, the deliciously tasting coffee next to the company elevators, the pleasure of working on an efficient computer. These are the small pleasures of life that an organisation can help with and make each day feel easier to get through. Second, there is eudaimonic pleasure, which we can brake down into “eu” meaning “good”, and “daimon”, which means “in spirit”. Imagine yourself immersed in doing something you enjoy, perhaps developing a project that fits your interests or engaging in a meaningful job. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, one of the founding fathers of positive psychology, came up with the notion of “flow” which is when you are completely aligned with a sense of purpose and meaning in what you are doing, not seeing time pass or challenges as problematic. This is eudaimonia at its best.

Third, we have that same quality of depth and meaning, with the added layer of expanding it and sharing with others. The power of the collective is such that one’s satisfaction is multiplied and grows exponentially since it reverberates not just within yourself, but among your peers and natural environment as well. This form of happiness necessarily implies a sense of virtue and moral compass from Paolo Gallo (one of the keynote speakers of the forum). Since there is a growing alignment and coherence between yourself, your peers, society and natural environment at large, your actions naturally start to reflect needs and desires from a collective intelligence. Your own needs do not compromise that of the collective, but it rather becomes a mutually reinforcing and complementary process. Paolo told a story of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who was the most inspiring boss he ever had. She was Managing Director for the World Bank and was then offered a position as Finance Minister for Nigeria. She was battling against corruption in Nigeria and getting momentum when suddenly she received threats of death. She stood tall and kept battling. The criminals then threatened her family, to which she did not respond. A few days later, they kidnapped her mother, saying that if she did not leave the country within 48 hours, they would kill her. Ngozi replied by saying “you can kill her. I will find you.” and stayed in Nigeria to do her job. She was able to stay put and keep her focus because she was so well grounded on that 3rd level of happiness. Her work felt important and made a difference to her peers, her communities and the country at large. The sens of drive, passion and commitment allowed for even the most disturbing of difficulties to arise and not overwhelm her. A few weeks later her mother was found alive. What can we learn from this story? Is it possible for us to reach this depth of happiness, this profound connection to a sense of meaning?

One can consider this pyramid in the same way as one think of the food pyramid. Everyday, we need a set of ingredients in order to stay healthy: liquids, carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, fruits and fats. How about we start considering our needs for happiness, our pursuit for happiness in the same way? Would it be possible to have a daily agenda to satisfy all three layers? Today is also a special day, if we make it so.

Time for integrity: Mindful Leadership on the rise

20 February 2017

I have been teaching Mindful Leadership at the MBA programs for the Trinity College Dublin Business school, and now that Harvard Business School professors are teaching the benefits of mindfulness, it’s perhaps fair to say the practice of mindful leadership has arrived in the corporate world. I would like to share here some exerpts from a book called Resonant Leadership by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, Harvard Business School Press (2005), which help illustrate some of the key tenets of Mindful Leadership:

“Great leaders are awake, aware, and attuned to themselves, to others, and to the world around them. They commit to their beliefs, stand strong in their values, and live full, passionate lives. Great leaders are emotionally intelligent and they are mindful: they seek to live in full consciousness of self, others, nature, and society. Great leaders face the uncertainty of today’s world with hope: they inspire through clarity of vision, optimism, and profound belief in their— and their people’s—ability to turn dreams into reality. Great leaders face sacrifice, difficulties, and challenges, as well as opportunities, with empathy and compassion for the people they lead and those they serve.” (Page 3)

Why is resonance so difficult? We think it has something to do with the nature of the job and how we manage it. Even the best leaders— those who can create resonance— must give of themselves constantly. For many people, especially busy executives we work with, little value is placed on renewal, or developing practices—habits of mind, body, and behavior—that enable us to create and sustain resonance in the face of unending challenges, year in and year out. In fact, it is often just the opposite. Many organizations overvalue certain kinds of destructive behavior and tolerate discord and mediocre leadership for a very long time, especially if a person appears to produce results. Not much time—or encouragement—is given for cultivating skills and practices that will counter the effects of our stressful roles.” (Page 5)

“In our work with executives we have found that true renewal relies on three key elements that might at first sound too soft to support the hard work of being a resonant leader. But they are absolutely essential: without them, leaders cannot sustain resonance in themselves or with others. The first element is mindfulness, or living in a state of full, conscious awareness of one’s whole self, other people, and the context in which we live and work. In effect, mindfulness means being awake, aware and attending—to ourselves and to the world around us. The second element, hope, enables us to believe that the future we envision is attainable, and to move toward our visions and goals while inspiring others toward those goals as well. When we experience the third critical element for renewal, compassion, we understand people’s wants and needs and feel motivated to act on our feelings.” (Page 8)

“People who think they can be truly great leaders without personal transformation are fooling themselves. You cannot inspire others and create resonant leaderships that ignite greatness in your families, organizations, or communities without feeling inspired yourself, and working to be the best person you can be. You must ‘be the change you wish to see.’” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“The trouble is that personal transformation is not easy. Facing your own shortcomings is hard work indeed. Honesty with ourselves breeds vulnerability. When we see who we really are and do not like it much, it hurts. Contrary to popular belief, it is not change itself that is so hard; what is hard is being honest with ourselves, looking at ourselves with no filters and admitting that we need to change. Many of us shy away from this honesty, just to vulnerability and, yet, the pain that comes with seeing that we are not all that we might have thought, and in fact not all that we want. Self-discovery is really hard work. Maybe that is why so few people do it, and why so few people are really great human beings and great leaders.” (Pages 201-202)

Le succès de la Pleine Conscience en entreprise

8 November 2016

Les pratiques contemplatives – la pratique de la Pleine Conscience ou du mindfulness en particulier – sont accueillies par un nombre croissant d’entreprises en Suisse et en France. Cela fait plusieurs années déjà que je travaille au sein d’entreprises, tant avec les collaborateurs qu’avec les équipes de direction ou encore les étudiants MBA du Trinity College à Dublin. Le constat principal est que, en cette ère digitale, le recentrage et la connexion avec soi-même sont essentiels.

Ces pratiques sont souvent présentées aux entreprises comme des outils visant à être moins stressé, plus concentré et plus efficace. Il est vrai que l’art de la Pleine Conscience atteint ses résultats. Toutefois, plusieurs dimensions essentielles, aussi riches pour l’entreprise que pour les hommes et femmes qui y travaillent, sont oubliées. Il est démontré que ces pratiques permettent la justesse dans la prise de décision, une connaissance de soi plus affinée, et le développement de la capacité à mieux “prendre soin” de ses collègues et de ses collaborateurs de façon bienveillante.



Cette dernière dimension est particulièrement cruciale pour l’harmonie collective au travail et l’épanouissement de chacun. Or, l’entraînement à la bienveillance est régulièrement oublié, et ce même parmi les professionnels, sous la fausse supposition que la capacité à “prendre soin” des autres se développe naturellement avec la pratique de la Pleine Conscience.

Mon programme intitulé « Contemplaction pour Avocats », soutenu par l’Ordre des Avocats de Genève, inclut ces pratiques de bienveillance, dont l’effet est remarquable. Les avocats, selon une étude de John Hopkins (1995), réussissent leur carrière grâce à leur faculté de prévoir les problèmes, de critiquer et de rejeter la faute sur la partie adverse. Cette méthode nuit à leurs ressentis ainsi qu’à leurs relations avec leurs collaborateurs et leurs familles. La pratique de la bienveillance leur permet de redécouvrir une qualité relationnelle imbibée d’intérêt et de bienveillance, qui, à son tour, permet de meilleurs résultats.

Les recherches du Professeur Davidson de l’Université de Madison (USA) et d’Antoine Lutz, aujourd’hui à l’INSERM à Lyon, ont montré qu’entraîner son esprit à la bienveillance mène à des changements fonctionnels et structuraux du cerveau et du comportement. Les travaux en cours de Tania Singer, Institut Max Planck de Leipzig, indiquent que la pratique de la Pleine Conscience ne suffit pas à augmenter les comportements pro-sociaux, à l’inverse, de la pratique de la bienveillance qui les augmente de manière spectaculaire.



En intégrant la pratique de la Pleine Conscience bienveillante dans son ADN, l’entreprise renforce ses chances de créer des liens humains forts et harmonieux. En déployant des initiatives de grande ampleur intégrant cette dimension et l’art du mindfulness pour cultiver le bien-être, l’harmonie collective et la confiance, certaines entreprises telles que Sodexo ou la MAIF ont bien compris l’importance de cette pratique. Même si ce n’est pas leur motivation première, elles savent que ce sont des facteurs essentiels pour une performance durable.



Ce sujet nous tient particulièrement à cœur puisque l’enjeu, au sein des entreprises, n’est pas uniquement individuel ou collectif. Cet entraînement à la bienveillance est aussi la clé d’un engagement altruiste plus marqué des entreprises face aux défis sociaux et environnementaux actuels, notamment la perte de sens, la pauvreté extrême et la crise environnementale. Il détermine un engagement libéré de la pression du public ou de l’Etat, nourri par une détermination forte à inventer de nouvelles formes de business et de nouveaux produits et services répondant à ces enjeux.


Bienveillance & Performance – la nouvelle entreprise

22 April 2016

La question des conditions de travail est plus que jamais sur la table avec le projet de réforme du travail porté par le gouvernement. D’autant plus quand on apprend, que les Français sont les plus démotivés au travail, selon une étude Ipsos-Steelcase portant sur 12 500 salariés dans 17 pays. Une occasion de revoir les méthodes de management et de travail en elles-mêmes pour redonner le goût à être productif et heureux de l’être.

Les bienfaits de la bienveillance en entreprise

L’environnement de travail serait donc un élément cible de réussite au travail. Mais pas seulement. En 2012, Google s’est intéressé aux causes de l’efficacité au travail et a ainsi lancé une grande étude – le projet Aristote – sur des centaines de groupes de travail afin de mieux comprendre les facteurs influençant la productivité des employés au travail. Après plus d’une année de recherches, statisticiens, psychologues et ingénieurs en sont arrivés à une conclusion des plus surprenantes mais pourtant des plus simples : il s’avère que la gentillesse au sein des équipes de travail semble être le facteur de réussite prépondérant.

Dit autrement, c’est le principe de « sécurité psychologique » de l’employé qui est ainsi mis sur la sellette. La sécurité psychologique implique l’existence d’un sentiment de confiance au sein d’une équipe de travail. Amy Edmondson, professeure de management, la décrit comme « le fait que les membres d’une équipe pensent qu’ils peuvent prendre des risques interpersonnels en toute sécurité ». Pouvoir s’exprimer sans être jugé ou sanctionné, établir un climat de confiance et de respect mutuel, notamment entre responsables et employés, telles seraient les clés de la réussite au travail.

L’étude Ipsos-Steelcase révèle que 75 % des employés en situation de stress vont diminuer leurs performances au travail. Et parce que chacun ne dispose pas forcément des aptitudes nécessaires pour établir ces relations, des formations au « management bienveillant » sont ainsi mises en place à destination des responsables d’équipes et des chefs d’entreprise. À l’université de Saint-Étienne, un master 2 en distribution est maintenant proposé avec un module de management bienveillant.

Une nouvelle tendance dans le management ?

Ces statistiques démontrent l’importance de prendre en considération les besoins psycho-émotionnels du management et du personnel. Plus particulièrement, la direction et les managers renvoient au rapport à l’autorité, aux figures parentales et au besoin d’être aimé. Avec l’évolution des technologies et de la dématérialisation du monde du travail, les rapports personnels-professionnels sont de plus flous. Ceci implique une perspective managériale plus large et une remise en question des pratiques pour la gestion du personnel.

Je propose, à ces fins, deux modules de formation “Performance & bienveillance“, faisant partie de la série de formation PRO-X  – Pleine Conscience pour entreprise, qui se consacre au développement de ces compétences:

  1. Pour les décideurs
  2. Pour les collaborateurs.

Voir aussi la conférence “Power and Care” à Bruxelles en septembre 2016.

Pont entre sagesse et business – les avocats du barreau genevois méditent

1 December 2015

Article paru dans Le Temps, 30.11.2015.

Présentation du programme Contemplactif pour avocats: “Les sciences contemplatives en action au service du droit”

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 07.08.57

Mindful Leadership Training in Demand

4 November 2015

I have now been included in the teaching faculty of the Trinity College Dublin year-long MBA executive programs. The use of mindful practices like meditation and introspection are taking hold at such successful enterprises as Google, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Apple, Medtronic, and Aetna, and contributing to the success of these remarkable organizations. Here are a few examples:

  • With support from CEO Larry Page, Google’s Chade-Meng Tan, known as Google’s Jolly Good Fellow, runs hundreds of classes on meditation.
  • General Mills, under the guidance of CEO Ken Powell, has made meditation a regular practice.
  • Goldman Sachs, which moved up 48 places in Fortune Magazine’s ‘”est places to Work List”, was recently featured for its mindfulness classes and practices.
  • At Apple, founder Steve Jobs — who was a regular meditator — used mindfulness to calm his negative energies, to focus on creating unique products, and to challenge his teams to achieve excellence.
  • Thanks to the vision of founder Earl Bakken, Medtronic has a meditation room that dates back to 1974 which became a symbol of the company’s commitment to creativity.
  • Under the leadership of CEO Mark Bertolini, Aetna has done rigorous studies of both meditation and yoga and their positive impact on employee healthcare costs.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is often defined as ‘non-judgmental, moment to moment awareness’. As leaders, it can also be thought of as the cultivation of leadership presence. Being present is quite a complex assignment in a world and global economy that measures time in internet seconds, conceives of the past as the most reliable tool for analyzing and assessing how to proceed into the future, is increasingly interdependent and relational, and dedicates little or no time toward the development of presence in its leaders. But presence can be cultivated and is necessary for a leader to bring all of his/her mind’s capabilities to leadership.

What is a Mindful Leader?

Leadership presence is a tangible quality. It requires full and complete nonjudgmental attention in the present moment. Those around a mindful leader see and feel that presence. A mindful leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating the central quality of centredness. Centredness is a quality of being where one is intimately aware and aligned in one’s inner senses, values and actions in the world. Five qualities support this alignement:

  • Calm: a serene mind helps assign the appropriate value to events, people and objectives.
  • Clarity: inner spaciousness and clear comprehension helps with decision-making processes.
  • Creativity: Gaining perspective in one’s mind and environment, one can think outside the box.
  • Courage: leadership requires taking a stance, being bold and making a first step which often makes one vulnerable. Mindful leadership makes one accepting and appreciative of one’s sensitivities.
  • Compassion: social intelligence, one of the foremost leadership qualities, is developed through empathic understanding, creating a following of employees inspired by loyalty and commitment.

Meditation is not the only way to be a mindful leader. Bill George (Harvard Business School Professor) reports that his students biggest derailer of their leadership is not lack of IQ or intensity, but the challenges they face in staying focused and healthy. To be equipped for the rapid-fire intensity of executive life, they cultivate daily practices that allow them to regularly renew their minds, bodies, and spirits. Among these are prayer, journaling, jogging and/or physical workouts, long walks, and in-depth discussions with their spouses and mentors.

The important thing is to have a regular introspective practice that takes one away from one’s daily routines and enables one to reflect on their work and their life — to really focus on what is truly important to them. The cultivation of passion and stillness through Mindfulness Meditation helps achieve just that.

A World Ethic

Our world needs mindful leaders, people who embody leadership presence. We need leaders who not only understand themselves but who are not afraid to be open-hearted and who have the strength of character to make ethical choices. The problems we see all around us are not insurmountable, but they do require a new kind of leadership.

As you continue to practice, and find more and more ways to actually be here for your life, you are also likely to encounter more and different ways to influence the lives of others, in your team, in your organization, in your families and in your community. One small step changes the dance, and one small change has the potential to create a better world.

Pro-X Program Descriptions.pdf

Afghan Mindfulness Self-Care Training Results

7 May 2015

In line with International Medical Corps’ global strategic objective to improve, maintain and scale up highly accessible, high quality Mental Health and Psychosocial programming, a burnout prevention (self-care) program for carers at IMC Afghanistan’s Mental Health Hospital (MHH) in Kabul.

Through sustainable healing methodologies, I conducted mindfulness training for MHH’s mental health staff. This training intended to build on existing positive coping strategies and self-help tools to overcome stress and support positive coping mechanisms of staff. By helping trainees become familiar with their own psychological, emotional and social reactions to trauma, stress and relevant co-morbid conditions (i.e. fear, grief, stress, depression, anxiety), they can develop greater compassion satisfaction and burnout can be significantly reduced. This case study will highlight IMC’s self-care empowerment model, assessment results, lessons learned, and recommendations for improvement and replication in other countries.

Regarding staff working with the traumatized (e.g. doctors, mental health counselors, psychiatric nurses and psychologists) emotional exhaustion was present in 20% of expatriate staff from aid agencies and 10% of professionals.[i] Also, there is considerable evidence that the stress inherent in health care negatively impacts health care professionals.[ii] The researchers list numerous negative impacts from this stress including depression, decreased job satisfaction, psychological distress, and many other physical health problems such as fatigue, insomnia, heart disease, depression, obesity, hypertension, infection, carcinogenesis, diabetes, and premature aging.[iii] This phenomenon is known as compassion fatigue (CF).

CF also associated with decreased patient satisfaction, ‘‘suboptimal self-reported patient care’’, and longer patient- reported recovery times.[iv] Similarly, research shows that stress affects the quality of care through a decrease in attention, reduction in concentration, impingement on decision- making skills, and reduction in providers’ abilities to establish strong relationships with patients.[v] Studies were done on Canadian frontline health care workers (counselors, children’s aid workers, and emergency staff) and found that CF can manifest in the workplace and client relationship through chronic absenteeism, low morale and decreased quality of care.[vi] Further, White (2006) found that up to 50% of practitioners were affected by burnout stemming from CF.

Preventing Compassion Fatigue: Importance of Self Care

Despite the prevalence of CF in the field of social work, researchers have suggested that CF is not only treatable, but preventable.[ix] The ability to address CF before onset would allow trauma practitioners to provide consistent high quality care. Empirical studies have shown that there is a circular relationship between CF and self-care.[x] They stated that “professional caregivers tend to be very good at caring for others, while often neglecting and failing to recognize their own needs” (p.4). Research shows that clinicians who make a conscious effort to look after their own well-being are not only less susceptible to CF, but have a greater sense of compassion satisfaction.[xi] Research indicates that having a higher level of compassion satisfaction (getting satisfaction out of helping others) enables clinicians to be more effective in treating their clients. A major contributing factor to the development of compassion satisfaction is self-care.[xii]

Self-care is defined as an unbiased observation of one’s inner experience and behavior, as well as the responses that counterbalance negative factors. Facets of self-care include self-awareness, self-regulation/coping, and balancing of self and others interests[xiii]. Examples of self care include psychotherapy for the caregiver, supportive work environment, proper supervision, and peer consultation. In addition, contemplative (meditation, mindfulness and self reflection) techniques have been highly successful in the reduction of burnout.[xiv]


Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.00.38


The Mindfulness-Based Counselling (MBC) program was originally planned as a 3-phase Training of Trainers (ToT) intervention: (i) mindfulness self-care skills, (ii) Mindfulness-based counselling skills, (iii) trainer’s module. Since it was a pilot project, and due to the finishing assignment of International Medical Corps (IMC) at the MHH, we completed only the first phase of the intervention (self-care).

Training Objectives

The objective of the intervention was to develop and strengthen IMC’s mental health self-care strategies, as part of the rehabilitation program of quality hospital standards of MHH. Through sustainable healing methodologies, Mindfulness training was conducted for MHH’s mental health staff. This training intended to

  • build on existing positive coping strategies and self-help tools to overcome stress and
  • support positive coping mechanisms of staff. Also, the training aimed at
  • helping trainees become familiar with their own psychological, emotional and social reactions to trauma, stress and relevant co-morbid conditions (i.e. fear, grief, stress, depression, anxiety),
  • while respecting the Islamic cultural context and making specific reference to it.
  • be planned over three phases, two of which were distance-based.

Overall, the training evaluations indicated a positive outcome for the training. Compassion satisfaction and mindfulness skills were increased, burnout and secondary traumatic stress were reduced. Since self-care was a new methodology and way of practice the counselling profession, it was a challenge for participants to value that by taking care of themselves, the services they provide to the beneficiaries are positively affected. More specifically, mindfulness practices were well received and understood, and the small group distance-based format of the training worked well with uninterrupted skype conferences.


Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 00.23.13 Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 20.55.37


For the full report, please click contact Boaz here.

[i] Ehrenreich, J.H., & Elliott, T.L. (2004). Managing Stress in Humanitarian Aid Workers: A Survey of Humanitarian Aid Agencies‟ Psychological Training and Support of Staff. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 10 (1), 53-66
[ii] Connorton, E., Perry, M. J., Hemenway, D., & Miller, M. (2012). Humanitarian relief workers and trauma-related mental illness. Epidemiologic reviews, 34(1), 145-155.
Shapiro, S.L., Astin, J.A., Bishop, S.R., Cordova, M. (2005). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for health care professionals: Results from a randomized trial. International Journal of Stress Management,12(2), 164-176.
For a review, please see Irving, J. A., Dobkin, P. L., & Park, J. (2009). Cultivating mindfulness in health care professionals: A review of empirical studies of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 15(2), 61-66.
[iii] Spickard A, Gabbe SG, Christensen JF. (2002). Mid-career burnout in generalist and specialist physicians. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288:1447–50.
[iv] Antares Foundation, & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2004). Managing Stress of the Humanitarian Aid Worker: Working Conference ‘Progressing the Tasks’. Retrieved April 5, 2015, from
Ehrenreich, J.H., & Elliott, T.L. (2004). Managing Stress in Humanitarian Aid Workers: A Survey of Humanitarian Aid Agencies‟ Psychological Training and Support of Staff. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 10 (1), 53-66.
Shanafelt TD, Bradley KA, Wipf JE, Back AL. Burnout and self-reported patient care in an internal medicine residency program. Family Journal 2002;12: 396–400.
[v] Shapiro, S.L., Astin, J.A., Bishop, S.R., Cordova, M. (2005). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for health care professionals: Results from a randomized trial. International Journal of Stress Management,12(2), 164-176.
[vi] White, D. (2006). The hidden costs of caring: What managers need to know. The Health Care Manager, 25(4), 341-347.
[ix] Figley, C.R.(2002). Compassion Fatigue: Psychotherapists Chronic Lack of Self Care. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(11), 1443-1441.
[x] Simon, C., Pryce, J., Roff, L., & Klemmack, D. (2005). Secondary traumatic stress and oncology social work: Protecting compassion from fatigue and compromising the worker‟s worldview. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 23(4), 1-14.
[xi] Krause, V. (2005). Relationship Between Self care and Compassion Satisfaction, Compassion Fatigue and Burnout Among MentalHealth Professionals Working with Adolescent Sex Offenders. Counselling and Clinical Psychology Journal, 2(1), 81-87.
[xii] Ibid.
[xiii] Barnett, J. E., Baker, E. K., Elman, N. S., & Schoener, G. R. (2007). In Pursuit of Wellness: The Self careImperative. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38(6), 603-612
[xiv] Linley, P., A. & Joseph, S. (2007). Therapy work and therapists‟ positive and negative well being. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 26(3), 384-403.
Shapiro, S.L., Astin, J.A., Bishop, S.R., Cordova, M. (2005). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for health care professionals: Results from a randomized trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 12(2), 164-176.

Bringing Mindfulness Practices to Corporations

11 April 2015

On March 18th 2015, Geneva went through an innovative transformation: a public conference was held to support CEO’s and managers to include their existing Mindfulness practice in the corporate world. An article from the local newspaper, Tribune de Genève, was published to mark the event:

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 14.08.21

“Corporate CEO’s meditate to better manage their business.”

What has been found is that, in fact, many people in the workplace have some form of practice which they are apprehensive to share with other colleagues. There are several reasons for this: apprehension of reactions and judgement from colleagues, lack of support from management and stressful working conditions all contribute to a constrained environment for people to mention the importance their hold for personal development practices. Even when some of these activities are proposed within the workplace, such as meditation, yoga, and self-expression/self-development activities, there is still a general lack of knowledge from CEO’s and management as to implement them successfully. As I mention at the conference regarding a previous intervention I conducted at Lenz & Staehelin, Switzerland No.1 and biggest law firm:


Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 14.28.50 “It works better when demand
for these resourcing
practices comes from higher
levels of the command chain.
If the leader has the courage
to engage himself/herself,
suddenly emerges a lot of
interest from the workforce. Those already practicing reveal
themselves and curious ones
become interested. At Lenz &
Staehelin, already 10 sessions
have been conducted.”


These practices, helps them align their personal goals to their work in several ways:

  • Stress reduction
  • Teambuilding
  • Self-care and burnout prevention
  • Bridging personal needs for meaning and corporate needs for efficiency
  • Developing person-centered leadership skills

A more elaborate series of modules for the public will be proposed in Geneva, Switzerland in the fall of 2015.


Bio-Psychosocial Assessments in Myanmar

26 February 2015

The national organisation with whom we worked, Karuna Myanmar Social Services, works in over 30 internally displaced populations’ (IDP’s) camps in the region. One of their principal objectives is to help relieve the IDP’s levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders. In 2014, to support this endeavour, I went to the conflict-affected region of Northern Myanmar to give a community-based training of trainers in bio-psychosocial support (BPSS), informed by human-rights-based approach involving legal and moral obligations and state/partner accountability. The training was planned in 4 phases:

  • 2 residential trainings
  • 2 periods of distance-based supervision

This training in phases enables trainees to develop their skills, knowledge and inspire their creative capacity to support IDP’s. As part of the participative methodology, with the trainees we gathered ideas to find an appropriate ‘bio-psychosocialist’ approach to make specific observations. The most important element for a BPSS facilitator is to establish trust with the beneficiaries. Baring this principle in mind, and aware that the BPSS facilitators were new in the region, we did not opt for entering the communities with stacks of pens, papers and assessment sheets.

As a team we worked together to organize a series of treasure hunt activities to conduct preliminary assessments in IDP communities. Although we did not have any formal focus group discussions or interviews with the beneficiaries, we paid careful attention to a series of indicators of bio-psychosocial health and illness while doing the activities. We developed observation sheets in our own eyes and had feedback sessions after each BPSS intervention to discuss everyone’s experiences related to our themes of interest:

  • Gender-based violence and roles of women and girls;
  • Local coping mechanisms;
  • Capacity for the communities to organize themselves;
  • Levels of youth involvement in the community,
  • Role of the elderly;
  • Levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders;
  • Identifying safe spaces for vulnerable populations, and their usage.


The following film takes places at Maina camp close to Myitkyine in Southern Kachin State. At the end of the activity, I asked if anyone would like to say a few words to us and the whole community. Contrary to previous accounts concerning the diminished status of women in Southern Kachin, it was a young lady who stood up and shared her feelings first. Moreover, 2 out of 4 groups for the treasure hunt nominated women, and a young boy was chosen also. This gave us some preliminary indication that, in this camp, women can and want to have a leadership role, and that children also have potential to take on responsibility.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to the IDP’s of Maina camp, the trainees of KMSS and Claudia Gampietri of Intersos who all contributed to the making of this film with their generosity, authenticity and kindness. Enjoy!



Mindfulness Cultural Adaptation in Afghanistan

16 January 2015

January: Mindfulness Cultural Adaptation in Afghanistan

International Medical Corps is currently building capacity for Afghan staff at the Kabul Psychiatric Hospital. This hospital is the only medical facility treating psychiatric cases in the whole of Afghanistan. Therefore, the responsibility, accountability and efficiency of best practices at the hospital are of great importance both its staff and the thousands of beneficiaries. As part of this elaborate plan of capacity building, IMC has recruited me to conduct a Mindfulness training for psychologists, medical doctors, social workers, occupational therapists and psychiatric nurses. The training is named Mindfulness-Based Counselling.

Even before such a practice as mindfulness can be clearly apprehended by staff of islamic culture and religion, I thought it would be worth making specific cultural adaptations. The first adaptation is to describe scientific evidence for the benefits of mindfulness practice. Entering a culture through its medical facilities, it is most worthy to document and justify mindfulness’ healing pathways. Secondly, a close study of the Qur’an has proved useful in selecting quotes and metaphors. Discussions with Afghan colleagues of currently used manners of speaking and references to Allah in everyday life have helped tailor this version of Mindfulness training.

With regard to the training itself, it is planned in two phases: the first has an experiential focus of mindfulness practice. With the objective of becoming familiar with the technology of mindfulness of one’s mental patterns, emotional activations and biological responses, the participants understand the meaning of mindfulness from the inside – not just as a concept. This first phase of the training brings many benefits, one among which is that of diversifying personal resources and increasing measures of self-care. Secondly, the training aims of developing specific aspects of counselling. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for developing understanding and healing of patients. Perceiving the patient’s experience through a psychosomatic lense, paying specific attention to non-verbal communication, empathy, authenticity and a diverse range of approaches for dealing with aggressive behaviours/communication.