1. The meta-analyses that Ruth Whippman cites included only 41 trials (with 2,993 participants). The figure 18,000 is incorrect. Also, that meta-analyses included only very rigorous trials (only RCTs in which the control group was additionally matched in time and attention to the intervention group – note that this type of rigorous trials are not employed even when conducting physical activity trials in different population groups). Further, the quoted meta-analyses used a highly heterogeneous group of meditation styles and many of the studies were short-term studies. On the other hand, a newer systematic review and meta-analysis, found that evidence supports the use of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs to alleviate symptoms of a variety of mental and physical disorders (see: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0124344). This review included a combined total of 8683 participants consisting of different patient categories as well as healthy adults and children.

  2. Hi Bravatta – As an executive mindfulness coach, I understand the points you and Whippman are trying to convey. Mindfulness provides tools to relieve stress, increase focus, reduce distractions amongst a whole plethora of other personal wellbeing benefits. Yes, there’s a ton of data and science to prove the benefits. On an experiential level, one can only experience these benefits with consistent, dedicated practice. I question the efficacy of leaders against mindfulness and whether or not they’re applying the tools for more than one session. It also makes me think they’ve never closed their eyes for 5 minutes in the middle of the work day to focus on the breath.

    I don’t agree with the sauce pan analogy. I believe a better analogy is to describe mindfulness as a piece in the training and development puzzle. Practicing mindfulness isn’t the only solution to help solve employee engagement and retention. We also have to address our workplace challenges with consistent and disciplined training, mentorship and coaching in other verticals such as communication, mindset, creativity, leadership development, etc. The entire batch of training tracks and curriculums are all pieces of the puzzle in the larger picture…again, mindfulness is just one of those pieces. Thank you for challenging my assumptions and research in this area. It’s always great to hear opposing views.

  3. As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many business clients over the years and have taught all of them mindfulness meditation. I have found that the practice of mindfulness meditation makes them more open and able to innovate far better than before they began their mindfulness practices. Every client who meditates also becomes a far better negotiator as well as a convincing spokesperson.

    We all know that it is essential to be calm and objective during a negotiation. Being able to ‘read the room’ is also a powerful skill. Meditation will enhance these skills. Practicing meditation on a regular basis before you need these skills is essential though. You cannot become effective at meditation by just thinking about doing it.

    Often it is helpful to have some guidance or a teacher when beginning to do meditation. When a teacher is not available or possible I highly recommend the guided meditation training downloads by Jon Shore at http://www.meditation-download.com to most of my clients since they are very effective.

    One can argue all day about the effectiveness of meditation or mindfulness or one can try it and see for oneself. I usually recommend the second option.

  4. OMG! Can we PLEASE get over “mindfulness,” “lean in” and other new-age mind-crap and get back to managing people? Don’t you get it, people? Every year (month? week? day?) someone comes up with a new industry (yes, “industry,” not “theory” or even “idea”) for making millions off of the HR and Management lemmings. In another two or three years, absolutely no one will be thinking about “mindfulness” or “leaning in” because they aren’t actually “real things,” they are simply additions to the pantheon of Management Science Fiction. Did I mention: OMG! Stop it!

    • I know it might be frightening to you but I would suggest trying it yourself rather than criticizing it. OMG, you might learn something new. 🙂

  5. Hello Bravetta, I have been involved in mind/body research and practice since 1977. I have been recommending meditation and mindfulness to my psychotherapy practice clients for almost 4 decades. Mindfulness, by its very nature, is about paying attention to the problems and issues that must be addressed. Having a clear mind to make decisions can be nothing but helpful. Mindfulness is not just about feeling peaceful. That is the least of its benefits. A clear and undistracted mind is essential for making the best decisions and to understanding what we are being told. I see so much misunderstanding about mindfulness and meditation. Maybe those who criticize should do a bit more research and also experience it themselves for a while. Ruth Whippman’s article got a lot of clicks but it is still just her opinion not based on real experience or fact.
    Often it is helpful to have some instruction for meditation. For those who are not in a position to take a meditation course I strongly suggest a short and effective guided meditation audio by Jon Shore available at http://www.meditation-download.com. Meditation 1 or Meditation 2. Meditation and mindfulness require practice like any other exercise. But the benefits are well worth the small amount of effort involved. Also, learning meditation does not require a large financial investment. Quality is not equal to the cost of the course or learning program. Just find a meditation technique that is comfortable and practice it every day. It is actually very simple.

  6. As a recovering HR exec (30 years including SVP roles at Pfizer and Aetna, MA HRD, MBA) I appreciate the concerns about any bright, shiny object. As a teacher of yoga, karate, and diving and MBSR graduate, however, I appreciate the value of the practices. The critique you mention is similar to others that cleverly “take on” new trends and fads to keep others from making lemming-like leaps over the coolest cliffs.

    Your article reinforces what I knew as a Fortune 50 chief talent & leadership officer – training without application opportunity, support, and practice is a waste. It also reinforces what I still learn as a mindfulness coach – same lesson. The clinical data from MBSR and similar programs is based on successful completion of 8 weeks of daily practice. I felt the effect with the practice (and still do). My yoga and breath practice clients now get the same message that my global leadership clients got from my HR practice then – there are no silver bullets and you will have to change before others will. Mindfulness is a discipline – a practice that improves with practice (don’t they all).

    Because of the personal nature of mindfulness practices, including being mindfully fit and fueled, along with breath, yoga, and meditation, the adoption and impact rates are going to vary. Insightful leaders figure out what their company needs and how to deliver it. Introducing mindfulness practices as part of a well-organized basket of wellness programs can be the perfect fit, where institutionalizing meditation sessions sounds pretty un-mindful. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/16a4b8130e5a1fce49788b34b003d57603151c528e0d9bfc546876d03574e794.jpg

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