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#GPAConf17: Mindfully Making the World a Better Place, One Grant at a Time

As grant professionals, we are too busy to take deep breaths, imagine an ocean and be mindful, right? Not the case! Weaving mindfulness into your daily life will reduce stress and may bring in more money.


“Peace is a place of power,” texted Tara Gohr who attended my presentation last month at the GPA Conference in San Diego. This is so true.

Reflecting on my presentation, Just Breathe: Mindfulness for Grant Pros, I am grateful for the audience who offered wisdom galore. I presented with Dr. Teri Davis, Executive Director of Purple Mountain Institute (PMI), and an Air Force veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PMI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit running the Mindful Veterans Project, which provides free Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes to veterans, military active duty members, and their families.

Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are proven methods for helping this population deal more effectively with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, chronic pain, moral injury, and other battle-related outcomes. MBSR combines these three methods in a nine-week class requiring deep reflection, daily homework/practice, and an eight-hour-day-of-silence. This program often helps veterans and family member participants more than any other method including prescribed medication, self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, and psychotherapy. I am so grateful to be working with PMI, and I am a proud graduate of the MBSR course.

My co-presenters and I were impressed and grateful for the wonderful audience that stuck with us on a sunny Saturday morning. They listened respectfully to the veteran's story and participated with thought-provoking questions and insights for all the speakers. After the session, it was heart-warming to see them thank the veteran, give hugs to presenters, and comment favorably about the session. You all made our day! You taught us as much as we hopefully taught you.

Here are some mindfulness tips and resources from the presenters and audience to help grant professionals deal with the many stressful situations we face in our careers.

WAIT-Why am I talking? Often, we say things without stopping to reflect on how it affects the listener. This acronym reminds us to pause before speaking or writing. It can be used with emails, family, colleagues, clients, strangers, and during meetings. For instance, consider not starting an email or conversation with “Not that it really matters, but ….”. If it does not matter, why are you asking the question? The listener stops listening or caring at that point.

Here's one more mindfulness acronym, since grant professionals never have enough acronyms: STOP. Stop. Take a breath. Observe what's happening. Proceed. This is very useful in meetings and other situations.

When dealing with frustrating people in daily life, try to feel sympathetic or empathetic towards them. This makes it easier to help you deal with your own stressful feelings about that person.

Harry Hoover provides three questions that may help reduce the stress in a grant professional's life: “Is it making me better? Does it make me happy? Does it make me money?” If you would like, change the last question to “Does it bring my nonprofit money?”

Before a stressful situation or for breaks throughout the work day, take three long deep breaths like ocean waves, pausing at the top intake breath and at the bottom outtake breath. Imagine a beach while you are breathing.

Here are a ton of mindfulness and MBSR resources in one article:

What other mindfulness tips do you have? Thank you for making the world a better place, one grant at a time.

Dr. Judy Riffle is a grant consultant and serves on the Grant Professionals Foundation Board of Directors.