Corporate Mindfulness - Is It Bad or Good? And Why It's Even A Thing
Mindfulness is getting a lot of PR these days and that’s generally a good thing - the more people who know of and practice mindfulness, the better our world can become. I have heard people argue about how commercialized the industry is getting (or that it’s even an industry now) or how it’s being abused by corporate pigs trying to wring every last drop of energy and focus out of their employees. People who get irritated by mindfulness finally meeting capitalism seem like the grownup version of the kid who had to tell you he knew of the band on the radio before they made it on the radio. Proving his superior coolness once and for all, because, he, in fact, knew of a band sometime before you.
I think, just because mindfulness is popular now and just because people have learned ways to build a business around spreading it, it doesn’t mean its coolness is tainted and it can never serve the same purpose it has for people for hundreds of years. Just because a band becomes famous doesn’t mean they can’t make kickass music anymore.
There are so many mindfulness-based businesses (BLOOM included) that have sprung up because of the founders’ deep love of mindfulness. My life changed when I first started meditating and practicing mindfulness, and after that, I couldn’t picture myself starting a business in any other industry (and enjoying it, at least).
I am not denying the stickiness of some corporate mindfulness programs. You can raise the debate of intention there, and that gets messy real quick. But personally, I believe that even if it is being misused here and there, the presence of mindfulness in any workplace is a positive step in the right direction. Employees who are taking corporate mindfulness classes can still personally benefit from the education and practice, and are likely better off because of it, even if their boss’ intention behind the class isn’t so selfless. The lessons continue beyond class, beyond that job even. Those are lessons that employee can now take and practice for life, and I think that’s overall a good thing.
And as for the sale of mindfulness products and tools - people still have the power of choice. If you believe a business is selling snake oil, don’t buy from them. The law of supply and demand still functions in the industry of mindfulness.
But all this corporate mindfulness begs the question - why are corporations integrating mindfulness programs in the first place?
-Stress: Mindfulness helps to reduce stress. Less stressed employees not only mean less money spent on refilling the donuts in the break room after Nick binge ate the whole box (again), it means less money on healthcare. Cha-ching!
-Focus: A cornerstone of mindfulness is developing a keen ability to focus. Businesses love when an employee can focus on the task at hand instead of getting distracted by multiple tasks, phones, chatty coworkers, etc.
-Happiness: Mindfulness helps people be aware of the present moment. And research has shown that people are happier when they are in the present, and not thinking of the past or future. So, if mindfulness can make an employee happier, they’re likely going to be happier with their job. This can help with employee retention and creating a better company culture.
There are tons of awesome benefits you can experience if you add mindfulness to your life. Yes, corporations are jumping on using those benefits to their advantage, and you have a right to your opinion about that. But I’m just gonna leave you with this quote (updated to be PC, of course):
Give a person a fish and feed him/her/them for a day.
Teach a person to fish and feed you him/her/them for a lifetime.