Mindfulness – LLL issue 2

Our previous issue of the Lifelong Learning series covered the topic of mindfulness and its relationship to work. We asked the community whether mindfulness is an enabler to growth, or a barrier to innovation and action. Here, we take a deep dive into our participants’ answers.

Mindfulness is a current hot topic. As basic as it sounds, it has hit the mainstream scene, especially through high-profile celebrity endorsements and features in global publications.

Through all the positivity it promotes, should mindfulness be encouraged and integrated into the workplace? Or are we simply being sold an unambiguous model with a short-term fix?

58% say that mindfulness plays an important part in their work and a whopping 74% believe that leadership teams should actively promote mindfulness approaches in the work place.

 

Mindfulness plays an important part in my work.

Leadership should actively promote mindfulness approaches in your work place.

Similarities in what mindfulness means

Mindfulness of course means different things to different people. However, when the question, “What is mindfulness to you?” was posed, reoccurring themes appeared in the participants’ answers. These included being in the present, being aware and being personal, which can certainly be perceived as positive elements and particularly as “becoming more aware of automatic reactions can make people calmer and potentially kinder.”

The role of mindfulness at work

The second part of the question asked what role mindfulness should play in the work place/organization. Participants claimed that they benefitted from being calmer, as well as possessing an enhanced focus as a result of mindfulness. The article puts forward a weighted argument about mindfulness at work by stating that even if individuals “become nicer people, the corporate agenda of maximising profits does not change.”

Mindfulness in the Western world

We must take into account the cultures of the workplaces in which mindfulness can play its part. One participant’s definition of mindfulness referred directly to the Western world saying: “A compressed version of meditation for the stressed westerners.” Within a business environment, mindfulness appears to be sold as a way for the workforce to improve their productivity and focus through de-stressing. The article argues that “A truly revolutionary mindfulness would challenge the western sense of entitlement to happiness irrespective of ethical conduct.”

Self-discipline or self-help?

Most participants see mindfulness as a tool for self-awareness or an aid for connecting, recharging, and learning about oneself. However, it is suggested that the technique has been stripped back of its ethics to simply become “a tool of self-discipline, disguised as self-help.” This poses the question of whether mindfulness is a truly transformational training or whether it is simply adapting to the model’s criteria? The article’s author, Ronald Purser goes on to say “Not only has mindfulness been repackaged as a novel technique of psychotherapy, but its utility is commercially marketed as self-help.”

Does mindfulness promise too much?

Many participants see mindfulness as a controller of stress and unwanted reactions – a connecter not only to our own selves but also to others. So, once mindfulness has been mastered, are we therefore able to solve further problems that may arise in the future? Purser claims “It is therefore implied that stable employment, home ownership, social mobility, career success and equality will naturally follow.” It’s interesting to note that our participants didn’t refer to mindfulness as a problem solver directly, but rather positioned it as a work in progress toward a more open and conscious awareness.

Overall, our participants’ feedback emphasized that mindfulness has a lot of positive synonyms attached to it. Even after reading the article, the reaction was mainly positive, and mindfulness was portrayed as an enabler of connecting either to oneself or to others in order to provide a more effective focus. As much as mindfulness began as a practice, it has most certainly become a business – and a pretty successful one at that with the industry said to be worth a staggering $4bn.

 

Further responses

Mindfulness is the only way to deal with everyday problems.

Mindfulness is being intentionally present with an attitude of openness, curiosity and learning. By being mindful you are creating a space that allows you to connect better with yourself, other and life at large.

Self-awareness, but it plays no role in our organization.

It is the practice that assists in the control of the stress during the search of my target.

Mindfulness to me is a framework to keep a healthy mind and body balance in the dynamic work environment.

Not rushing from decision to decision. Reflecting on myself, my work and my team’s goals.

Being present with whichever task/person you are on/with. Multi-tasking should be minimized.