Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Research Study within Vancouver businesses & organisations

Empirical Study on Ways to Improve Employees’ Creativity and Well-being:

Organizations today face increasing pressure to consistently develop new innovations and efficiencies while simultaneously maintaining a desirable work environment conducive to productive and motivated employees. The puzzle of how to master such challenges has been the focus of my doctoral research within the Department of Strategy, Organizational Behavior and HR at ESCP Europe School of Business.

Extensive research has shown how bringing about a more broad and aware state of mind can bring a multitude of benefits to organizational actors, from improved performance, wider scope of perception, greater well-being and increased intrinsic motivation, as well as organizational level benefits including enhanced teamwork and competitive ability. Specifically within this field, my research explores how meditative techniques can be used to induce a state of mindfulness and awareness that could generate benefits to themselves and the organizations they are a part of.

In early 2011, I will be conducting an experiment within a few selected organizations to assess how meditative techniques (guided visualization, relaxation and deep breathing practices and focused concentration methods) practiced by employees could enhance their creative abilities and bring an increased sense of well-being among them.

Might you be interested to have these empirical studies take place within your organization? It would involve having a group of your employees be led through a 15-20 minute guided meditation  or similar activity each morning for several weeks, and at the end of each work day around 20 minutes for them to assess its impacts on creativity and well-being.

Please feel free to contact me for further information by mail or by phone. I will be pleased to respond to any questions you may have.

Best regards,

Marie Holm
PhD Candidate
ESCP Europe School of Business

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unleashing Untapped Potential

During one of the first days of my Master degree studies in Norway, I remember one of my classmates being surprised that I didn’t know the ‘5 P’s’ of marketing, and drawing the conclusion that I’d be unlikely to succeed in the program. Given that the degree program was International Marketing and Management, for a moment I wondered whether I should be worried. My background was in Economics and Mathematics, and even though I’d successfully started and grown a promotions and events company in Canada for 6 years, I obviously didn’t know the theory behind the worlds of marketing and management, such as the 5P’s standing for product, people, price, place and promotion.  I continued on, did my best, and ended up winning the top student award at the end of the program. And while the actual ‘winning’ was to me a surface level reward, I did appreciate the lessons that I learned.
Like myself, the people who live in the lands along where the Brahmaputra flows have great potential, and it is unleashed one stage at a time. I didn’t have the specific knowledge at that time that others thought determined whether or not I would be successful. But I had the eagerness, the drive and the opportunity to learn and move forward.  The people of the North East of India have the potential they need; it is merely a matter of finding ways to tap into it.
                Currently I am pursuing a PhD at ESCP Europe Business School in Paris, and I feel that my research ties nicely with looking at how to continue to strengthen the growth and development of the North Eastern India. The idea behind my research is that one’s mindset largely determines the outcome of situations.  When a person is in narrow and restricted pessimistic mindset, the results of his or her actions will most likely match these qualities. On the contrary, when people are able to shift into a better state of mind, where they feel positive, fully present and experience a sense of well-being and fulfillment, well, you can imagine my prediction for the wondrous possibilities that can result!
                How to achieve such a positive mindset? Is there some special magic behind it? In fact, much of the wisdom underlying such states of mind stems from India, from yogic philosophy to the various branches of spirituality and religions which have evolved over the centuries. Entering such an alternate mindset as I speak of can be as simple as sitting in stillness for ten or twenty minutes every morning, allowing thoughts and emotions to arise, be noticed, and then pass. Alternatively, others may choose to take a peaceful walk in nature in order to reclaim this place of serenity and peace in their mind. Others still may practice yoga, beginning with pranayama, slowing and deepening the breath, and proceeding through a series of asanas (postures) to re-align their body and their mind to its optimal state. Numerous studies (Kabat-Zinn and Santorelli, 1992; Shapiro and colleagues, 2008; Langer 2009) have shown the benefits of such meditative practices, ranging from mindfulness meditation to focused attention all the way to moving meditation like tai chi and yoga. These benefits of using such techniques in order to induce an alternate mindset range from a widened span of perception, heightened awareness, increased creativity and intuitive insights, as well as an overall improved sense of well-being (Weick and colleagues 2006; Csíkszentmihályi 1990), all of which can potential lead to enhanced personal and professional success. The advantages of these benefits apply also to organizations, in facilitating the building of relationships, improved teamwork, greater insights into company strategy and moreover, improved efficiency and effectiveness within organizations (Gardner 2004; Hodgkinson 2009).
This alternate state of mind has been called ‘zen’ in Japanese traditions, and is also known as being mindful or aware, and similarly is known as a state of being present or a state of flow, or even simply, as a positive state of mind. Like the mighty Brahmaputra which is known by different names in different regions, and by different peoples, as the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet, to the Dihang River as it enters India from the Himalalyas, the Jamuna as it flows through Bangladesh until it merges with the Ganges, this state of mind has different names, but in essence is the same.
To further this analogy, this mindset which can unleash our untapped potential shares qualities with the waters of the Brahmaputra. To evoke a Taoist proverb: The highest motive in life is to be like water. It fights nothing and no one. It flows from its source and in the flowing smoothes and wears away all resistance. Thus, rather than resisting how things are, the magic happens once we merge with the current, becoming as a drop of water that blends with the great river. What is needed is acceptance of whatever point we are at, fully being with every present moment, not dwelling upon the moments before, nor anticipating the future. In this way, we allow ourselves to live our fullest selves, to naturally show our potential.
While it might sound like a simple concept to allow ourselves to be like water, this wonderfully quiet yet powerful current, it has often been our tendency to resist this, to resent our circumstances and to be disappointed about what we have already lost out on. We in essence ‘drop anchor’ at various points, holding ourselves back from delighting in where the current may bring us. Let me encourage you, and in doing so, encourage also myself, to let go of the disappointments and frustrations about what could have or would have been, and hop back into flowing along smoothly in the stream of life and see what wonders can unfold!

Csíkszentmihályi, Mihaly. 1990. Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. Harper Perrenial: New York.
Gardner, Howard. 2004. Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Kabat-Zinn, J., & Santorelli, S. 2002. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Professional Training - Scientific Papers from The Stress Reduction Clinic. Boston: Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, UMMS.
Hodgkinson, Gerard P.; Sadler-Smith, Eugene; Sinclair, Marta; Ashkanasy, Neal M. More than meets the eye? Intuition and analysis revisited.  Personality and Individual Differences, Vol 47(4), Sep, 2009. pp. 342-346.
Langer, E. 2009. Mindfulness versus positive evaluation. Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed). New York: Oxford University Press.
Shapiro, S., D. Oman, C. Thoresen, T. Plante and T. Flinders.  2008. Cultivating Mindfulness: Effects on Well-being. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64(7): 840-862.
Weick, K. E., & Putnam, T. 2006. Organizing for Mindfulness: Eastern Wisdom and Western Knowledge. Journal of Management Inquiry, 15 (3): 275-288.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Intuitive readings at Euphoria in Tallinn, Estonia

Hostel Euphoria welcomes Marie Elisabeth Holm, PhD (Cand), MSc (Hrs), BA (Econ). Marie is a practicing intuitive. She will be staying as a guest of Euphoria and shall host a Q&A night about practicing various meditative techniques and developing intuitive ability. This is will be held in the Euphoria Common room 31st of August at 9pm.

"Like anything else, intuition is a which can be developed, given the interest and affinity. My path of development came as a result of my experiences and natural curiousity. Currently I am pursuing a doctorate degree on how meditative techniques such as visualisation, and mindfulness can bring an enhanced perception, creative insights and greater sense of well-being."

Chai by donation will be served after event

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In remembrance...

Spending time at Auschwitz-Birkenau this past week brought up immense emotion within me, as much in the days leading up to my visit as after. I feel it is worth sharing a salient reflection which has been in my mind.

Let me please first be clear here that the actions that were carried out during the Holocaust were horrific and unthinkably cruel, and I am truly saddened that such events took place and I in no way excuse what happened.

The guide who showed me Auschwitz and Birkenau repeatedly referred to the German people with phrases like 'Germans are so heartless and greedy, as to benefit from the killing of innocents...' Afterwards, I discussed with him the idea that not every German shared the views of those who were involved in carrying out during WW11, but yet also, there were people beyond their borders that did share the mentality of the Nazis, so that there could be a better way, a better term, than to refer to the German people in general when speaking about the Holocaust. From this, he assumed that I was from Germany, because it bothered me that all Germans, from both then and now, and only the Germans seemed to be blamed.

I received the comment, 'It must be so difficult for you to be in these places, knowing that your people committed these crimes.' Even I was of German heritage, why should I bear blame for what those before me had done? Further, myself and others being categorized in this way, this 'us' versus 'them' mentality seemed to be a limited viewpoint. It seemed to me that some people are perpetuating hatred towards the 'other', maybe not even realizing the torture they are doing to themselves by letting anger run through their veins.

I realize that this is the most sensitive of topics. My point is merely that in remembering and acknowledging what happened, and in continuing to bring justice to the atrocities that happened, it could done in ways that further enable a raised awareness of humanity.

Let me leave you here with the works of a Polish composer who expresses his emotions of these places:
Henyrk Górecki - Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sublime spirituality

Exploring along the Côte d'Azur, the stunning coast areas of southeast France, I am struck by how my perception of the sights changed as I shifted into the present moment. Rather than focussing on what comes next, and mind chatter, I truly drifted into dwelling with the divine, melting into the eternal now. Climbing to the outlook points and gazing down, the colours seemed richer, the ocean more vivid, the moment sublime. These images incapsulated not just the sights, but the sounds, the smells, the feeling of the place, of the moment, the impression of the history and significance became imprinted on me. I 'felt' the places rather than merely seeing them. As I headed through beautiful gardens and under towering trees, I connected with their beauty, with their peace and presence. And I again realized, these places where I venture really serve as a mirror to awaken these various parts of my being.

I've been absent from writing for a month or two now, in part waiting for inspiritation to hit, in part feeling overwhelmed at having nearly 50 countries and countless cities to recount. Yet now, I just write. Because it doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be of ultimate significance, though somehow, it feels deeply significant, because of the joy and love that I am able to pour out to the world and beyond, for the realizations and growth that occur in my being with each experience I am blessed with during this life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Namasté & Namaz يؤديها

In the wake of Obama's June 4 uniting speech in Cairo, the thought entered my mind of how Namaz, of Islam, must be linguistically linked to the Hindi greeting Namasté. Knowing both Muslim prayer traditions, and yogic practices, these words actually reflect the same - honouring the sacredness and equality of all and connecting with the Divine.

Namaz (known as Salat amongst Sunni Muslims) is performed facing Mecca, for the significance of Abraham and Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him, and Namasté to the God within each other. Both acts bring our hands together and heads bowed. While Namaz is the actual practice of daily prayers to Allah, and Namasté is used as a greeting to one another, is not this Godsense within us all, meaning that these acts point to the same?

I seek to help build understanding between the numerous corners of our great Earth - it seems to me that some people of our world have often forced divisions between us rather than seeing all that brings us together. Really, it amazes me the limited knowledge overall of Islam in the West, for instance. Now, I am not myself a Muslim, nor a Christian, nor do I profess any other religion, but I do see great value in really 'getting' each other. Namaskar, friends.