MEDICATING INSTEAD OF ELIMINATING…?

February 4th, 2018

I’ve been a life-long—since I was 17—practitioner of various forms of meditation and I’m convinced of the efficacy of the practice. Reading William Little’s Mindfulness courses at work? This should have us all in a rage in The Guardian, however, gave me pause. Little wrote:

A couple of friends who live in Denmark came over at Christmas. When I asked if they would ever move back to Britain, they looked horrified, saying they were infinitely happier in their jobs in Denmark than they ever were here. I said they must be practising mindfulness on repeat to be that content at work – yet they had never heard of it.

Clearly in Denmark they treat the causes rather than the symptoms. Workers leave work at 4pm on the dot, get paid generously, have less income inequality and pay more taxes. (After that conversation, I now have to use mindfulness to push the thought of Denmark and how happy everyone there is out of my mind.)

Little is writing about the fad of late of business’ encouraging, even sponsoring, mindfulness practice during work hours, not to help workers, but to increase profits.

Mindfulness meditation is being offered at some of the world’s biggest companies, such as Google, GlaxoSmithKline and KPMG, to cut workplace stress and boost productivity. With workplace stress costing UK businesses £6.5bn a year, it’s no surprise that companies are investing in mindfulness: business magazines and HR journals are open about how it can boost profits. And research has shown how mindfulness reduces sunk-cost bias, where business leaders obsess about lost causes at the expense of more pressing concerns and decisions.

Yet mindfulness experts, aware that the technique could be used to turn us into placid worker drones, are taking rearguard action. Mark Williams, the founder of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, said that seeing more clearly what is happening in their lives could make employees more subversive and critical. In other words, businesses may be cultivating an army of mindful rebels. But he said that three years ago—so where’s the revolution?

Good question. If meditation doesn’t help us to see the way out, is it really helping us?

I read Dan Harris’ 10% Happier last month and I’m expecting his latest—Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-To Book—to come in this week. Harris’ story, and subsequent proselytizing, revolves around how mindfulness mediation saved his career, and possibly his life, but is that a good thing?

What do you think?

One Response to “MEDICATING INSTEAD OF ELIMINATING…?”

  1. […] be if we started teaching meditation in kindergarten. We could do that, but then we might just be medicating rather than eliminating the […]

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