Mindfulness must not be seen as a ‘fluffy’ fad, says new research

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Traditionally, companies have been reluctant to embrace mindfulness training because of its perception as fluffy, esoteric and spiritual.

But that’s changing, according to Christopher Lyddy, an organisational behaviour doctoral candidate at Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Indeed, Lyddy and other researchers looked at 4,000 scientific papers on aspects of mindfulness, documenting its impact on how people think, feel, act, relate and perform at work.
 
Their findings, Contemplating Mindfulness at Work (An Integrative Review), were recently published in the Journal of Management.
 
“When you are mindful, you can have a greater consciousness in the present,” said Lyddy.

“That’s vital for any executive or manager, who, at any given moment, may be barraged with various problems that call for decisions under stress.

“Of the thousands of empirical studies we read, only two reported any downside to mindfulness.”
 
The researchers claim a growing body of work in the management area suggests mindfulness is linked to better workplace functioning.
 
The study also found:
 
• Mindfulness appears to positively impact human functioning overall. Research in such disciplines as psychology, neuroscience and medicine provide a wealth of evidence that mindfulness improves attention, cognition, emotions, behaviour and physiology. 
• Mindfulness has been shown to improve three qualities of attention—stability, control and efficiency. The human mind is estimated to wander roughly half of our waking hours, but mindfulness can stabilise attention in the present. Individuals who completed mindfulness training were shown to remain vigilant longer on both visual and listening tasks. 
• Although mindfulness is an individual quality, initial evidence suggests that it affects interpersonal behaviour and workgroup relationships. 
• Mindfulness may improve relationships through greater empathy and compassion, suggesting mindfulness training could enhance workplace processes that rely on effective leadership and teamwork.

The research coincides with an increasing interest in mindfulness training around the world, said Lyddy.

For example, the British Parliament has recently launched a mindfulness initiative called “Mindful Nation UK” with the goal of improving national health and productivity.

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