Guest Blogger: Wendy Quan & Integrating CM into Meditation

My story has unexpectedly unfolded into something pretty intriguing for the change management profession.  Little did I know that my cancer diagnosis in 2010 would lead me to being on stage at conferences around North America.  Often, I get contacted for interviews by journalists who are seeking stories of innovation to help people and organizations through today’s crazy-paced change.I would like to share this new concept with my fellow change managers in the hope that maybe this is an idea that you can take advantage of.

When I speak to audiences about the benefits of mindfulness meditation in the workplace, people are interested. Once I lay that foundation in my talks, then I continue by talking about how I combine change management with meditation to create significant boosts change resiliency.  People’s eyebrows raise as they become more curious.

I’ll explain my journey briefly, and provide you with some data that will likely make you go ‘hmmm’.

  • In 2010, I was in the throes of being the change manager at Pacific Blue Cross, undergoing the largest transformation project in the history of the organization.  A cancer diagnosis hit me hard, seemingly at the worst possible time. 
  • Mindfulness and meditation became the keys to my resiliency, and my co-workers at Pacific Blue Cross asked me to show them what I knew about this practice.   In 2011, I began weekly, 30 minute drop-in meditation sessions at work. The staff had an enormous response and reported benefits personally and organizationally.  Just think, back in 2011 one would have to take a calculated risk to admit you meditated, let alone introduce this practice in the workplace!  I did have some apprehension.
  • In 2014, through the high stress go-live period of the Pacific Blue Cross project, I experimented with adding change management techniques into the meditation program.  The results were significant – 83% of the meditation participants reportedly that meditation helped them moderately to significantly through the tough transformation at work. 
  • Excited about the results, I submitted a white paper Meditation – a Powerful Change Management Tool to the global ACMP and things snowballed from there.  I presented my paper at the 2015 global ACMP conference in Las Vegas which accelerated my journey of helping people around the world discover meditation.  If you are looking for hard numbers that help show the benefit of workplace mindfulness, have a look in this white paper.
  • Many exciting events occurred since then, including a speaking and teaching engagement at the ‘Mindfulness & Well-Being conference’ at UC Berkeley, landing Google and the government of Dubai as clients, and partnering with the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR).
  • Today, I’m no longer at Pacific Blue Cross, and my own business is called The Calm Monkey. I help organizations build change resiliency through workplace mindfulness with no ongoing operating costs. This is achieved through training employees who are experienced meditators to be great mindfulness meditation facilitators.

Integrating change management into meditation
So what does it mean to put change management techniques into meditation?  Although I cannot explain this extensively in a blog post, I can tell you that it’s about building on top of the foundation of meditation.  In meditation, we become more keenly self-aware and can identify how we might be experiencing a situation with heightened awareness.  Typically, most people live in auto-pilot, reacting and behaving in survival mode, dealing with one burning thing to the next.

By building on the foundation of mindfulness meditation, we can add some of the key principles of helping people deal with change in a very profound way.

I run various studies to show hard numbers about the benefits of mindfulness meditation, especially in the workplace.  Below I share the results of a specific initial study (only 27 participants) that I’m really excited about! 

I’m going to be taking this further and expanding the study to a much larger audience to get more significant results.  This particular study uses a special Dealing with Change guided meditation recording that I created. Look at the results in green, below.

What’s new in change management?
SAP produces ‘Digitalist’ magazine which is targeted to management and executives addressing the future of business and technology.  They recently addressed the challenge of change management in our current era of ‘digital transformation’, that is, the profound acceleration of digital technology (cloud computing, big data, etc).

Essentially, the main message in their article is that traditional change management as we know and practice today is not good enough for the continuous pressure that is upon all organizations.  The article, The New DNA of Change suggests ways that organizations should look differently at change.  I was interviewed for this article and you’ll see it in the section called ‘The Importance of Being Resilient’.  This article gives some great insights that may help you think outside of the box in how you provide change management services.  If you don’t know what the term ‘fintech’ is, this article will explain it!

Change Practitioners are influential

As a change practitioner navigating through your mazes of projects and transformations, how you ‘show up’ in every conversation matters.   Not only can mindfulness be a key part of your own life, but you can be highly influential to others as well, helping them be more aware of their own journey in change.

Change managers can be the ones who introduce mindfulness at work, in small ways or in more overt ways.   In fact, anyone with a fire in their belly to help others deal better with stress and change can be drivers to start mindfulness meditation at work.  I have seen successful implementations with and without the involvement of the Human Resources or Health & Wellness teams at work.

What impact do you think self-awareness would have on people’s behaviors during difficult change?  Quite a significant impact, right?

If you are curious to learn more on this subject, I welcome your email at

As a change practitioner, don’t be afraid to be innovative and act outside our traditional methodologies.This is where influence can really make a difference.