Corporate Interest in Mindfulness Up, But Not Very Deep

According to this piece on a Wall Street Journal blog, interest in mindfulness practice is on the increase in American corporate culture, although it is still seen as a secular activity that can’t be allowed to have a negative impact on short-term profit margins.

Those firms that are giving mindfulness some room to experiment — including, according to the piece, General Mills, Aetna and Google — find their experience confirms what “study after study shows,” namely that “mindfulness in fact makes people less stressed, more productive and maybe even healthier, and maybe even happier too.” However, “people have reported that their mindfulness practice made them more sensitive to things like environmental concerns and the conditions of factory workers. If those feelings in turn result in decisions that are put people ahead of profits and puts sustainability ahead of EPS in a particular quarter, that creates some real tension.”

In other words, mindfulness, which in its proper environment, is a total personhood practice, had better learn and stay in its place! Indeed, the interviewee in the article went on to suggest that, “if a CEO is to say that we’re going to forego profits because I had an epiphany on my mindfulness retreat, that could be a tough sell to investors.” It is unfortunate that this kind of black-and-white exclusionary thinking dominates the corporate scene, but it always has and will continue to do so until we reach another level of enlightenment or the underlying system shifts.

The good news here is that mindfulness — no matter how diluted and misunderstood — is making inroads into Corporate America alongside yoga and more traditional meditative practice. Like many other such tools, it must achieve some level of share-of-mind awareness and acceptance before it can be refined and more purely understood, practiced and thought.


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