The advantage of being both a Psychologist and an Executive Coach is that I often come across methodologies that might look very different in the respective fields of mental health versus the business world, but at their core they carry the same value to the client. When I recently trained as a Lego®Seriousplay® Method Facilitator, I was surprised to discover the same benefits I experienced as a Mindfulness Practitioner whilst being facilitated through a Lego®Seriousplay® workshop.
I have been working in Mental Health for 15 years, the past 9 years a Counselling Psychologist at a psychiatric h
ospital. Part of my work was to use the Third Wave CBT therapy of Mindfulness in groups and with individuals. Mindfulness is currently widely used in both the mental health and business world and even further afield. Mindfulness is, in short, the practice of being present and aware in the moment, instead of letting your mind be occupied with the past or the future. Mindfulness is not just a fad but a scientifically and neurologically robust method of reducing our stress hormones and enhancing the feel-good factors. It often includes meditation practices as well as more practical applications such as eating mindfully.
But, as those who have ventured down the Mindfulness path often discovers, the suggested practices are sometimes hard to follow daily, and even in controlled situations such as Mindfulness groups, meditating and focussing on your breathing or bodily experiences can be challenging. In a supportive environment such as a mental health context with a trained clinician these challenging experiences can be rich and valuable to look at and acknowledge, but in a context such as the workplace those feelings can be awkward, unsettling and brushed away.
During my Lego®Seriousplay® training, I discovered a facilitation method that gives a facilitator tools to help a team or a group, in a fun way, construct and imagine their realities, and access and voice subconscious knowledge and insight that might otherwise be harder to bring forth. The method reminded me of Play Therapy, although Lego®Seriousplay® wasn’t designed or intended as therapy for children but the result of business strategizing within the Lego®Group.
The group I trained with was a vibrant group of 13 strangers having come to London from as far afield as Belgium, India and Australia. Not only were we able to form a tight team through Lego®Seriousplay®, I also noticed that every time we built a “model” my mind would quiet as my hands were touching and searching the bricks. The room would quiet in a warm and communal silence, whilst everyone was focused on their own work. This contrasted sharply with the self-conscious silence that so often accompany a group meditation. We were encouraged by our Facilitator, one of the founders of Lego®Seriousplay® Robert Rasmussen, to “not have a meeting with ourselves” about what to build. So we constantly stopped thinking and were encouraged to “be in the moment” or to use Lego®Seriousplay® terminology, be in “real time”. I personally felt the benefits from those short “meditations with bricks”.
Could Lego®Seriousplay® bring the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation to your business team? I do not propose that we substitute Mindfulness Groups in mental health settings for Lego®Seriousplay®, but I believe there is a strong case to be made that in the business world, teams might at least benefit as much from working with a Lego®Seriousplay® facilitator to do problem solving, team building or strategizing, then they would if they were to follow a more classic meditation group. And they might have more fun too!