Over the course of a two and a half day workshop, we explored the compatibility of Design Thinking and meditation. To conquer personal challenges, we used Design Thinking’s human-centered methodology to examine individual needs and wishes of the people we were designing for. We created a persona that helped us open up the solution space for the individual challenges. Throughout the retreat, we meditated several times a day to sustain a state of awareness and for example, by this, worked on intensifying our sense of empathy.
Fusing Design Thinking and Meditation: Our Motivation
In a globalized and interconnected world with a growing population, society is experiencing a constant rush. More and more people are looking for deceleration, searching for islands of slowness, of awareness, of being present. Meditation is a centuries-old practice known for creating awareness for the present moment and therewith fostering mindfulness. While practicing, one can recreate a mindfulness for oneself, one’s thoughts but also for one’s surroundings. It is a form of inner work to sustain mental health. Meditation classes and retreats are popping up everywhere in the Western world, but a few questions remain when examining the impact of meditation after a retreat or a class finishes: Can we actually sustain a conscious and aware state of mind once we get back to our daily routines? Or could meditation practitioners benefit when specific barriers or problems are considered while they visit meditation classes or retreats? For example, balancing work and free time or finding time for oneself in a busy work schedule? And for us probably the most interesting question: Could the creative mindset of Design Thinking help to open up the solution space for problems that brought people to the meditation classes in the first place? Those were a few of the questions we asked ourselves when talking about meditation and its possible compatibility with Design Thinking. We wanted to explore the interplay and its synergies between meditation’s art of mindfulness and the empathy-driven Design Thinking approach.
Our goal was to create a safe atmosphere where participants could experience mindfulness and at the same time explore the variety of possible solutions to individual problems.
How did we see this happening?
Workshop Structure - A New Approach
We aimed for a good balance between productive teamwork and mindful meditation. The two and a half workshop days started and ended with different kinds of meditation. Additionally, various meditation practices, such as breathing, walking, body scans, loving-kindness, mindfulness, and chanting, were included in the Design Thinking process wherever we considered it helpful as a possible counterbalance to the typical energizing Design Thinking elements, e.g. warm-ups, role play elements, and hands-on prototyping. In our pilot study, the teams went through one full circle of this unique combination of meditation and Design Thinking.
Staying in the beautiful countryside estate in Saxony, away from daily routines of excess noise, traffic, busy people, and general overstimulation of the senses, allowed us to really focus on what matters the most; the individual journey and each other. Moreover, we not only nourished our minds and creativity during the retreat, but also our bodies. We were fortunate to have access to local produce including fresh dairy products, seasonal fruits and veggies.
|COMPATIBILITY||The empathy-driven creativity method Design Thinking can profit from meditation practices.|
|ENERGY LEVELS||Certain meditation practices are valuable in driving down the 'roller coaster-high' we experience in the energetic innovation method Design Thinking.|
|INTROSPECTION AND SHARING||Balancing individual ‘inner work’ with ‘external’ teamwork fosters a new perspective when approaching personal problems.|
|SECURE FEELING||Both the team size and facilitation of a safe atmosphere are key components when working on personal challenges.|
|EMPATHY||Mindfulness practices can increase empathy, helping to relate to ourselves and others in a profound way.|
|POSITIVE RESPONSES||Participants were inspired and motivated to conquer personal real life-challenges.|
|DIVERSITY OF PRACTICES||There are many meditation techniques. Different people respond to different meditation practices. For some, it increases focused attention, for others, it helps relax in contemplation, and again for others, it fosters effortless presence. Everyone needs to try out on own their own and find out what works best for them.|