A Week of Mindfulness and Thoughts on Value Judgments

18 July 2015

I learned something terribly important in the last few weeks, and it is really important to record it for my own reference going forward. I have returned this week from a Research Intensive at my university, on the topic of Mindfulness and how that works with our creativity. For me it meant a week to fully immerse myself in my novel, to try and unblock myself, and also to learn some things about Nature Mysticism and how it impacts on my creativity. Just why do I find it easier to be creative when immersed in nature? The week gave me lots of alone-time to do this, and it also gave me an opportunity to work with a group of other creatives, to give each other peer support. But it was feedback with a difference. We were not allowed to give each other value judgements about each other's work, unless it was specifically and explicitly asked for. We were working with Liz Lehrman's Critical Response Process, which goes like this:

Step 1 - Responders statements / summaries: a) The responder(s) briefly establish their own bias/relationship to the work shared. b) Then, without judgment, simply describe/list/summarize what you have seen/read/heard - what stands out/ what was meaningful/ memorable/ stimulating/ surprising?

Step 2 - Researcher as questioner: The researcher (very briefly) sets out the questions he/she has about the work shared.

Today I have been working on.... I am thinking about.... What is significant to me, today is... l have been tussling with ...

The researcher asks for specific areas of feedback...

b. I would like to hear your thoughts about ....(2 or 3 questions at the most) (again responses should be open and non-judgmental - the person giving feedback should try to locate their own bias and position or indeed lack of knowledge)

Step 3 - Neutral questions from the responders: Those offering feedback ask questions in as neutral a manner as possible - this is not about assessing quality value / significance - but a genuine effort questions to draw out details and ask some of the things you want to know about. No more than 3 questions in total.

NB. Asking neutral questions takes practice and attention.

Lerman has a nice example when she says