Mindfulness and learning

The process of learning is a sequence of three steps: some form of programmed learning (e.g. study, or training or pre-planning based on past experience), taking action to apply the new ideas or procedures and then reflecting on the actions taken with some kind of framework about what worked well, what could be improved and what could be done differently next time.

Clearly, the process of reflection needs to be free of guilt. Any response of the type “what will people think about me, how could I have been so stupid to think that would work” – in short, any red zone triggering – will diminish the learning that is possible.


This consideration argues strongly for being fully present, being mindful, when we take action and reflect, if we want the maximum of learning to take place.

We can also learn continuously through whenever we take action, we reflect on the action we have taken. This is how we can continue to get better at things we already know how to do.

This is a also a question of mindset. We can do something we have done before without thinking – and therefore without the opportunity for learning – or we can be mindful of what we are doing and apply our reflection framework to the action we have just completed, or we can apply the full learning sequence through modifying the next action we plan to take based on what we have done before.

Thus, mindfulness not only helps in the process of managing our red zones but is also a major contributor to our ability to learn and continuously improve over time.

John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.

John Corrigan