A recent study that highlights the benefits of daily meditation practices in the workplace has people talking about the commercialization of mindfulness, and whether it has gone too far.
It’s difficult to dispute the benefits of mindfulness, especially with a mounting stack of research published on the topic. One of the more recent studies—a paper published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes in early September, on how mindfulness impacts interpersonal relationships at work—is a good example of the empirical evidence pouring in. But are corporations and organizations now using mindfulness programs as a salve to treat overworked and highly stressed employees?
In this particular study, a team of business professors researched how the behavior of employees changed when they participated in mindfulness practices at work. At a large insurance company in the U.S., the researchers had employees meditate between seven to ten minutes a day for five days and then fill out assessments in the morning and afternoon about their helpful behaviors for the day. At an IT consulting company in India, for one day, select employees underwent a brief mindfulness intervention in the morning and then their coworkers reported on how helpful they were that day. The final study was conducted in a lab with the aim of discovering why mindfulness practices make people more helpful, while the field experiments tested if mindfulness makes people more helpful. In the lab, participants were asked to either complete a 15-minute focused breathing meditation, a 15-minute loving kindness meditation, or listen to a New York Times article as a control. The participants then had to deliver bad news to a fictitious subordinate, and respond to a survey that …