A thought provoking piece from Radio 4 on the relentless march of the ‘ Mindfulness Industry’; from its Buddhist origins, via the secular therapeutic interventions of MBSR & MBCT as a way of reducing stress and depression, to its increasing popularity within corporations and the military as a means of improving employee resilience.
The programme also raises some interesting questions on the future of the mindfulness movement and proffers insight and opinions from a number of luminaries in the field: Christopher Titmuss, Mark Williams, Miles Neale and the ubiquitous Andy Puddicombe, to name but a few.
Tellingly, Radio 4 does not take a position with regard to its own question….Panacea or Fad?….but rather allows the listener to draw their own conclusions.
As an ‘old school’ MBSR instructor myself, who teaches the therapeutic and moreover tried and tested 8 week course, I’m a little wary about the faddiness of workplace mindfulness training courses that must be designed to suit the needs of the workplace and be a good fit to the culture of a client organisation..’ Why?…. because the self-inquiry, ethics and intentionality of mindfulness based practice inevitably gets lost in translation and employees receive an adulterated and impoverished version of what is on offer elsewhere.
As a result, the exprience of learning mindfulness in an office is going to be less meaningful. This is because an important part of mindfulness practice is about moving towards personal difficulty, – fears, insecurities, anxieties, pain and the such like – an endeavour people are loathe to touch into in the company of work colleagues.
Meditation and therapeutic mindfulness based practice are here to stay, but ‘mindfulness in the workplace’ will, I fear, become just another headstone in the extra-curricular corporate activity graveyard.
So I leave you all with one last heartfelt exhortation.
“By all means bring your mindfulness practice into the workplace, but please don’t go and learn it there!”
The Radio 4 Programme “Mindfulness: Panacea or Fad” will be aired on Radio 4 at 1.30pm today, Sunday 11th January. You can listen to it off air and prior to broadcast via iplayer