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How Mindfulness Is Changing Business from the Inside Out

mindful-work-david-gelles-mindfulness-at-work“Even Goldman Sachs is doing it…”

Highlights from Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business From The Inside Out, by David Gelles.

A refreshingly simple definition of Mindfulness: “The ability to see what is going on in our heads, without getting carried away with it.”

…Mindfulness can sound deceptively easy. Practitioners sit in a comfortable position, close their eyes and simply notice the physical sensations in their body and the swirling thoughts in their brain. Using moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness, the aim is to observe these sensations without reacting to them. By doing so, meditators gradually recognize the fleeting nature of sensations, including pain, anger and frustration. In time, this allows practitioners to quiet the mind. If it all works as intended, this results in individuals who are less agitated, more focused and easier to work with.. . .

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is,” Apple founder Steve Jobs told biographer, Walter Isaacson. “If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”

“I think we all have time for Mindfulness practice. If we all have time to check our smartphones (all day long) and browse the web, we likely all have time for more virtuous activities,” David Gelles says.

“What was once considered a radical, lunatic, fringe thing has been incorporated into medicine, science academics and more,” says Jon Kabat-Zin, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

William George, a current Goldman Sachs board member and a former chief executive of the healthcare giant Medtronic, started meditating in 1974 and hasn’t stopped. Today, he is one of the main advocates for bringing meditation into corporate life, writing articles on the subject for the Harvard Business Review. “The main business case for meditation is that if you’re fully present on the job, you will be more effective as a leader, you will make better decisions and you will work better with other people… I tend to live a very busy life. This keeps me focused on what’s important.” George adds that  Wall Street firms, in particular, could benefit from the virtues of meditation. “It causes us to behave less aggressively,” he says. “Certainly, the financial community could use some of that.”

Employees at insurance company Aetna who took a “Mindfulness at Work” course saw their per-person healthcare costs fall $2,000 a year compared with a control group. On a somewhat Orwellian note, it also improved their productivity, “resulting in more than an hour’s gain in work time per employee per week.”

…Some 89% of the food group General Mills’ senior executives said they had become better listeners as a result of Mindfulness training.

Topics: Mindful work, office meditation, mindful leadership, mindfulness at work, workplace wellbeing