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Mindful Meditation Might Be Counterproductive to Achieving Professional Goals

Friday, August 3, 2018

Some of the world’s largest, most successful companies like Nike and Google have embraced meditation practice for their employees, using it as a means to reduce turnover and absenteeism while boosting the bottom line. However, a new study has shown that mindful meditation, a popular style that emphasizes being present and aware in the moment, might not be the best way to increase workplace focus and motivation. “Meditation is about accepting the present, which is the opposite to being motivated to do something where the present moment isn’t acceptable, so meditation is inconsistent with being motivated to achieving a goal,” says Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study. Vohs and her co-author Andrew Hafenbrack found that self-reported motivation levels of those who practiced mindful meditation were significantly lower than the control group that had not. Meditators had fewer thoughts about the future, as well, which researchers said could interrupt the processes involved in achieving goals. “The Western world, Americans in particular, loves a panacea,” she says. "To think the antidote to what ails you is to 'just be' is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”

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I teach meditation and mindfulness in the workplace. These sessions allow employees to release stress so they can get back to work more focused, with more energy, and with a renewed sense of possibilities. It also helps them to understand their own motivations, reactions, and triggers so that they create a better work and life experience - they build higher emotional intelligence, if you will. The "researchers" completely miss the power meditation and mindfulness.
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In my experience, meditation is a wonderful way to clear the mental static in the midst of so much busy-ness in our world today and reduce overall stress level. Granted, this isn't some study, but personal experience. From what I can read between the lines, this author believes motivation is only related to accomplishing work goals. Perhaps she should meditate on what is really important in her life and decide where her motivations truly lay.
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From this article, the so-called "study" on mindful meditation and its effects on motivation to take useful action, and on the inclination to think to the future, seems based on such a misunderstanding of the well documented benefits from mindfulness (such as the increased focus and clarilty in one's attention and thinking when makig decisions about the best actions to take in a challlenging situation, rather than stress-driven reactions) that the study "findings" are really worthless.
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