Mindfulness: Creating Space in the Everyday

By: Karen Hershenson, The Clay Street Project, Procter & Gamble

I’m heading home from a weekend retreat of yoga, meditation and walks in nature. I have a new sense of clarity and focus. The mismatched ideas that have been bopping around in my head are now forming into tangible creative executions. It’s like when finally given a little space from the frenetic pace of my life, these stray ideas can self-organize into coherence.

We all know how hard it is to create from an overwhelmed mind and yet it is often our reality. There is a growing expectation to create on demand and pull from what feels like a dwindling source of inspiration.

In our work at the clay street project, we have guided hundreds of people through the creative process –- creating the conditions for them to find space and inspiration during business demands and pressures. Over the past 13 years, we have seen time and time again the power of mindfulness on creativity. At first, we thought you needed a lot of time – like my weekend retreat. But we are seeing that it is possible to build in creative bursts and clarity in even your busiest days.

Here are a few mindfulness approaches that are working for our teams at P&G:

Before consumer research, JOURNAL. Set a timer for 3 minutes and write down a prompt like “Right now I am…” or “What I’m most curious about with this research is…” Then write whatever comes to mind – don’t edit and don’t stop until the timer goes off. This practice will make you more aware of what is pulling your attention from the present moment and primes you to be more open to new insights.

Before the big pitch meeting, BREATH. Take 5 deep, full breaths. This will activate the vagus nerve, which acts as a balancing system to stress and increases calm – helping you think more clearly.

During a day of ideation, LEAVE THE PHONE AT HOME. Your ideas need time to incubate and connect. Every glance at your phone is an interruption to this process.

Our challenge we have given to ourselves, is how can we create the sense of space. But more and more, it’s harder for teams to take the all here in the “retreat-like” separation from the daily demands. Over the past 13 years, we have worked with teams for 3 months, 2 weeks and yearlong programs,



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