Mindfulnet the mindfulness information website

Mindfulnet was set up in 2010 when information about mindfulness was scarce on the web.  Mindfulnet.org was set up as is an independent mindfulness website that aims to provide  "everything you need to know about mindfulness in one place".  For many years it was the go to website for researchers and busy professionals who wanted to find out more about mindfulness and its evidence base. Information on mindfulness is now plentiful, to such an extent that its now difficult to keep up with all the information that is published, so the website and closed in 2020.  The following text is an extract of the information that was previously housed on Mindfulnet.org.

There is a large volume of information on this page, so use these links to jump to specific content:

 

What is mindfulness?

Have you ever started eating a snack bar, taken a couple of bites, then noticed all you had left
was an empty packet in your hand? Or been driving somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realise you remember nothing about your journey? Most people have! These are common examples of "mindlessness," or "going on automatic pilot." In our modern, busy lives, we constantly multi task. Its easy to lose awareness of the present moment as when we become lost in our efforts to juggle work, home, finances, and other conflicting demands.


As humans we are often "not present" in our own lives. We often fail to notice the good things about our lives, fail to hear what our bodies are telling us, or poison ourselves with toxic self critism.

Human minds are easily distracted, habitually examining past events and trying to anticipate the future. Becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings and sensations may not sound like an obviously helpful thing to do, however learning to do this in a way that suspends judgement and self-criticism can have an incredibly positive impact on our lives. 

According to Professor Mark Williams (2011), Oxford University "Mindfulness is a translation of a word that simply means awareness. It's a direct, intuitive knowing of what you are doing while you are doing it. It's knowing what's going on inside your mind and body, and what's going on in the outside world as well.
Most of the time our attention is not where we intended it to be. Our attention is hijacked by our thoughts and emotions, by our concerns, by our worries for the future, and our regrets and memories of the past. Mindful awareness is about learning to pay attention, in the present moment, and without judgement. It's like training a muscle - training attention to be where you want it to be. This reduces our tendency to work on autopilot, allowing us to us choose how we respond & react."


Interest in mindfulness has been growing steadily in recent years. There are now thousands of research studies into the uses of mindfulness, and professionals are using mindfulness in Boardrooms, Schools, Prisons, Court rooms and hospitals across the world.  

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives.  It will not eliminate life's pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body. It helps us recognise and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. It provides us with a scientifically researched approach to cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding. Practising mindfulness allows us to be fully present in our life and work, and improve our quality of life.

The ABC of mindfulness

 

  • A is for awareness - Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing - whats going on in your mind and body. 

  • B is for "just Being" with your experience.  Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.

  • C is for seeing things and responding more wisely.  By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.

Juliet Adams, Founder of Mindfulnet.org & Director, A Head for Work 

 
 

The benefits of mindfulness


The benefits of Mindfulness include helping individuals to:
 

  • Recognise, slow down or stop automatic and habitual reactions.

  • Respond more effectively to complex or difficult situations.

  • See situations more clearly

  • Become more creative

  • Achieve balance and resilience at work and at home


Since the late 1970's there have been more than 1000 publications documenting medical and psychological research on mindfulness which demonstrate its validity and breadth of application.

There are currently two well respected formal approaches to Mindfulness: MBSR & MBCT.

 

MBSR & MBCT are taught using a standard curriculum, and all teachers follow a formalised development route. Other approaches to mindfulness can be equally effective and valid, but are less likely to be well regulated.

What does mindfulness involve?


According to Jon Kabat-Zinn , "mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally." 


Mindfulness practitioners learn how to pay attention on purpose by practising specially developed mindfulness meditation practices & mindful movements. With practice, practitioners learn to slow down or stop brain chatter and automatic or habitual reactions, experiencing the present moment as it really is. 

When practising mindfulness, everyone, however much they practice, will experience thoughts creeping in to their heads uninvited. This is fine - its just what brains do, but how we respond to these thoughts is important. 

If we start to think about the thought, or get annoyed with ourselves for not being able to retain our focus, it stops us paying attention and takes us away from the present moment. If we just acknowledge the thought and let it go without judgement, we retain our focus on being in the present moment.

As with all new skills, the more we practice it, the easier it becomes. Canadian psychologist, Donald Hebb coined the phrase "neurons that fire together, wire together". In other words, the more we practice mindfulness, the more we develop neuro-pathways in the brain associated with being mindful, which make it easier to be fully in the present moment.

By learning to experience the present moment as it really is, we develop the ability to step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events, see things as they really are and respond to them wisely rather than on auto pilot.

 
 

Who is mindfulness for?


Mindfulness is for everyone from all walks of life, young or old. Mindfulness is not a religion and there is no necessary religious component to mindfulness - anyone, with any belief system, can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness.

Although Mindfulness may have had its origins in the east, the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are now relatively mainstream and the scientific community has found data positively correlating mindfulness and meditation to stress reduction .

In the last 30 years, the most widely recognised Mindfulness practices, MBSR & MBCT have been developed and researched in the West. Recent neuroscience & clinical research has helped explain why mindfulness meditation practices work, which has accelerated its use within traditional medical circles as a powerful healing tool even further.

 

What are the origins of mindfulness?


Mindfulness has its origins in ancient meditation practices. The founder of modern day Mindfulness is Jon Kabat-Zinn who founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the late 1970's. Since then over 18,000 people have completed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme to help with conditions as diverse as chronic pain, heart disease, anxiety, psoriosis, sleep problems and depression.

In the 1990's Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Seagal further developed MBSR to help people suffering from depression. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) combined CBT with Mindfulness. MBCT is clinically approved in the UK by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a "treatment of choice" for recurrent depression.

How is mindfulness practised?


The most recognised and researched modern forms of Mindfulness are MBSR & MBCT. MBSR & MBSR are normally taught as 8 weeks programmes with participants meeting for 2-3 hours a week as a group, and home practice in-between meetings. Participants are taught a number of specific meditation practices proven to help reduce "brain chatter" and respond more appropriately to thoughts and feelings. Most MBSR / MBCT training includes a body scan exercise, two sitting meditations, walking meditation, gentle stretching and body awareness exercises, a three-minute mindfulness meditation.

 
 

Links and resources

Click this link for the UK Parliament report on mindfulness 

Click this link for information on WorkplaceMT mindfulness training   
Click this link for
New UK national guidance issued on Building the Case for mindfulness in the workplace

 

Applications and uses of Mindfulness


Mindfulness is for everyone from all walks of life, young or old. There is no necessary religious component to mindfulness - anyone, with any belief system, can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is now being used in the business, education, prisons, Court rooms and hospitals across the world.

Mindfulness in the workplace


Mindfulness is now being used in the workplace by a wide variety of people working at all levels, from Chief Executives to shop floor operatives. Mindfulness can help reduce workplace tensions, improve communications & teamwork and reduce workplace conflict. 

This page contains an overview of how mindfulness is being used in business by leaders and the workforce alike. This page contains case studies, links and video clips. 

Mindfulness can help reduce workplace tensions. People who practice mindfulness at work report an improved ability to communicate clearly and more appropriate reactions to stressful situations. They also report a better ability to handle workplace conflict, Improved teamwork, a better ability to "think out of the box" and in some cases enhanced creativity. 

Using mindfulness in the workplace is highly beneficial to both businesses and their employees. Mindfulness can help businesses provide a higher standard of Customer Service by equipping their staff with the skills to respond more appropriately to their daily challenges.  Mindfulness can help employees respond more appropriately to managers and colleagues that they have previously found difficult. A few minutes of mindfulness at the start of a meeting usually leads to improved focus, clearer communication and improved decision making. Teams who practice mindfulness, even for a few minutes a day report improved team working and team relations.

The most widely documented use of mindfulness in the workplace is by Leaders and Executives. Modern business leaders are now asked to perform and thrive in a global environment that moves and changes at lightning speed. To become more adaptable and flexible in this environment, leaders need to move beyond familiar or habitual ways of seeing the world and open up to new ways of listening, leading, responding, and innovating.

While innovation can't be manufactured on demand, it can be cultivated both inwardly and outwardly through the practice of mindfulness. Cultivating attention and awareness through mindfulness provides a new way for leaders and their workforce to live all aspects of their lives with a greater sense of skill, connection, openness, and balance.

 

Mindful leadership case studies


Case study 1: Mindful leadership at General Mills

In 2009, General Mills ranked No. 3 in Fortune magazine's listing of the Global Top Companies for Leaders; No. 7 in Training magazine's ranking of top companies; and No. 12 in Business Week's listing of the Best Places to Launch a Career. One reason the company has consistently fared so well is because it has aggressively pioneered the use and development of cutting-edge leadership programs. One of the newest, most popular initiatives has been the Mindful Leadership Program series. Click here for further information

 

Case Study 2: Dave Jakubowski: Vice President United Online
Dave Jakubowski is vice-president of business development for Internet service provider United Online. Dave Jakubowski is no breathe-like-a-tree kind of guy. "I'm in business," he says, "and I need results." So he recently turned to a mat and 60 minutes of silence. "It's amazing," he says of his new mindfulness meditation practice. "I'm able to sort through work challenges in this state of calm much faster than trying to fight through it. And I make fewer mistakes." 

from Zen and the Art of Corporate Productivity - an article that also references other companies who have engages with mindful leadership. Click here for further information

Case study 3: Joel Rubinstein MD; Associate Medical Director, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Harvard Pilgrim is a not-for-profit health plan that provides a variety of insurance plan options and self-funding arrangements to more than one million members in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Harvard Pilgrim currently has 1300 staff, and actively promotes a healthy balance of work and personal life. They were recently named as one of the Globes top 100 places to work.

Around 25% of staff have attended mindfulness training (MBSR) run in house by Tara Healey.

Click here to download case study 

Case study 4: Michael Forlenza, PhD, MPH, School of Leadership and Professional Advancement, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA


Michael is Assistant Dean in the School of Leadership.  His role is both strategic and operational. The School has an annual budget of approximately $4 million. Michael's primary focus is on the development, reorganisation, and implementation of school-wide operations and academic programs, policies, procedures, and processes.

"Mindfulness supports my leadership practice at several different levels simultaneously.  First, on a personal level, I find the practice helps me deal with the stress of constant information overload and shifting demands and priorities.  It also helps as I manage my staff; I am more present, more thoughtful and deliberative in decision-making...."

Click here to download case study

Case study 5: Leaders who use mindfulness at work: Kristen Stancik: Client Service Manager:  Citizen Relations (PR)

Kristen is a busy Client Service Manager with global public relations firm Citizen Relations.

PR is the second most stressful industry, behind air-traffic controllers. "Mindfulness has been invaluable in all areas of my work: actively listening to my clients, developing wise and innovative strategies, fostering creativity".

Click here to download case study

Case study 6: If Insurance
A Mindfulness programme run within IF Insurance was independently evaluated by the Health Group in 2010.  The results, based on participant's self-assessment included:

  • 88% of participant reporting "a highly increased ability to stay focussed"

  • 76% of participant reporting "highly increased positive relationships within their teams".

  • 68% of participant reporting "highly increased personal efficiency and productivity"

  • 60% of participant reporting "highly increased ability to counteract stress"

Click here to download case study

 


Case Study: Mindfulness at AOL Time Warner and Ebay
In 2006, AOL Time Warner Inc, reduced their sales and marketing group from 850 to 500 people. Mindfulness classes were incorporated to help employees deal with the new working arrangements. As well as helping employees function better at work, the classes were regarded by many as a gesture of thanks for a job well done.

Adapted from: Zen and the art of corporate productivity

Online auction site eBay encourage mindfulness amongst employees by providing two meditation rooms at its San Jose campus. Here, employees can sit in silence-in minimalist rooms decorated in earth tones, accented with cushy pillows, floor mats and fragrant flower buds-to catch a few critical moments of solitude and to decompress from the myriad stresses of a workday.  

Adapted from: Mindfulness in the workplace by Jenny Lee

Case study: Mindfulness training is helpful for the military
Abridged from an article by Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor, reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. 

A new study suggests mindfulness training can help high-stressed U.S. military groups prepare for deployment to Iraq.

The study found that the more time participants spent engaging in daily mindfulness exercises the better their mood and working memory, the cognitive term for complex thought, problem solving and cognitive control of emotions.

The program, called Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT™), aims to cultivate greater psychological resilience or "mental armour" by bolstering mindfulness.


The program covered topics of central relevance to the Marines, such as integrating skills to manage stress reactions, increase their resilience to future stressors and improve their unit's mission effectiveness. Thus, the program blended mindfulness skills training with concrete applications for the operational environment and information and skills about stress, trauma and resilience in the body.

"Our findings suggest that, just as daily physical exercise leads to physical fitness, engaging in mindfulness exercises on a regular basis may improve mind-fitness," Jha said.

Since this article was published, Mindfulnet have been contacted with an update on the project:

" The Marine study you posted has blossomed into a study being held right here on Oahu at Schofield Barracks. It is led by Anishi Jha out of the University of Pennsylvania. Here is the study's web site which includes pdf files on other completed the studies by Amishi, including the 2007 Marine study.
 

The University of Pennsylvania is playing a key role in bringing programs that have a mindfulness component to the Army.Dr. Martin Seligman (unrelated to Amishi Jha's studies) has developed the Comprhensive Soldier Fitness Program for 1.1 million soldiers.

 

Mindfulness Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT) is conducting an on-going resilience study will help clarify which components of MMFT are most effective for building stress resilience.  The STRONG (Schofield Barracks Training and Research On Neurobehavioral Growth) study is sponsored by the U.S. Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. 

Three in depth mindful leadership case studies can be found in Mindful leadership for dummies.
Case studies of mindfulness in the workplace can be found in Mindful Nation UK, A report from the mindfulness all party parliamentary group


Mindful work by David Gelles contains a number of organisational case studies.


Mindfulness in the Workplace: An Evidence-based Approach to Improving Well being and Maximising Performance by Margaret A. Chapman-Clarke contains some good in depth examples of the implementation of mindfulness within different sectors, written by practitioners, with an HR readership in mind.
Mindfulness in Organisations: Foundations, Research, and Applications (Cambridge Companions to Management) Edited by Jochen Reb and Paul W. B. Atkins contains in depth case studies

 

The neuroscience of mindfulness

Neuroscience is a vast subject, so we have tried to present the basic information you may need in order to understand the neuroscience behind mindfulness. Much of the content of this page has been extracted or adapted from Dr Shanida Nataraja's book "The Blissful Brain: Neuroscience and proof of the power of meditation", All extracts and illustrations have been reproduced with the permission of the publisher & author.

A brief introduction to the brain.
The human brain is a reddish grey mass, with the consistency of firm jelly, which weighs on average the same as three bags of sugar and houses 100 billion individual brain cells called neurons. Each neuron has a cell body which houses its processor, the nucleus. Branching from the bodies are numerous finger like dendrites which branch and re-branch, fanning out to extensive, tree like structures that intertwine with dendritic trees of other neurons. Each neuron makes up to 1000 different connections with its neighbours and different areas of the brain. This extensive connectivity allows electrical signals, and thus information to travel from one brain processing centre to another in a matter of milliseconds.

The human brain is organised in a hierarchical manner: the oldest parts controlling the more primitive, instinctual behavioural reflexes; the newest parts controlling the more sophisticated cognitive, sensory and motor functions. The human brain is made up of three main blocks: the fore brain, the mid brain and the hind brain.

The oldest part of the human brain, the hind brain, evolved more than 500 million years ago. It closely resembles the brain of a modern reptile, so is sometimes called "the mammalian brain". It is responsible for automatic physiological reflexes that control breathing, heart rate and digestion, and coordinate movement and sense perception.

The mid brain contains neurons responsible for temperature control and the fine tuning of movement. It relays sensory information from the bodies sensory organs to the fore brain. It also plays an important part of the limbic system, a group of brain structures associated with the expression of emotion.

The most evolved part is the fore brain which is composed of cerebral hemispheres, and is what we most commonly think of as the brain, and the hypothalamus and thalamus. In the last 100,000 years, the weight of the human brain has tripled, and most of this growth has been in the cerebral hemispheres. The neurons of the fore brain control cognitive, sensory and motor function, as well as regulating reproductive functions, eating, sleeping and the display of emotion

Right Brain and Left Brain
Although you may often hear people referring to "left brain thinking" or "right brain thinking" there are extensive connections between the two brain hemispheres and information is processed by using both hemispheres of the brain. Imaging studies have shown that most cognitive tasks such as problem solving or strategic planning or strategic planning activates neurons in more than one brain region simultaneously, or at least in close succession.

For example is you are inspecting a new, never seen before object, the left hemisphere examines the object logically to see how it has been made, what it is made from, any distinguishing marks, and attempts based on the information gathered to guess what the object might be, and may try to logically categorise it. This gives a partial description. The right hemisphere looks at the object more holistically, notes any functions in its design, or clues about what it may have been used for, how it feels, or any emotions it may evoke. The right hemisphere puts this into the context of what it already 'knows' about the world and then offers creative suggestions for its function. By working together as a team, sharing logical and creative  information, the two hemispheres can generate a more complete description.

For simplicity of explanation, the left hemisphere is associated with analytical, rational and logical processing, where as the right hemisphere is associated with abstract thought, non verbal awareness, visual & spatial perception and the expression and modulation of emotions. 

In the western world, most individuals navigate through their everyday life in a fashion dominated by left brain thinking. Missing out on right brain activity results in too much thinking going on: too much frantic doing, not enough time being.

Right brain, left brain and mindfulness
According to neuroscientist, Dr Shanida Nataraja, westerners use the left hemisphere of their brain too much. 

For simplicity of explanation, the left hemisphere is associated with analytical, rational and logical processing, where as the right hemisphere is associated with abstract thought, non verbal awareness, visual & spatial perception and the expression and modulation of emotions. In the western world, most individuals navigate through their everyday life in a fashion dominated by left brain thinking. Missing out on right brain activity results in too much thinking going on: too much frantic doing, not enough time being.

Practising mindfulness can bring about calmness, stilling the brain chatter, and help us shift towards right brain mode.

By engaging our right brain we activate the parasympathetic nervous system (as opposed to the adrenaline releasing sympathetic system). More parasympathetic activity means less stress and therefore better health.

According to Neuroscientist Dr Shanida Nataraja's  studies, those new to meditation practices such as mindfulness often put pressure on themselves to be successful and "get there" quickly - a left brain "are we there yet?" approach - and consequently take longer to benefit. Shinda suggests that the key is to be kind to yourself, acknowledging thought and letting go. This activates certain pathways in the brain which reduce left brain activity.

What happens in our brains when we meditate?

 
 

Mindfulness is classed as a passive form of meditation.

 

The following illustrations and description of the overall chain of brain processes during mindfulness meditation is an extract from Dr Shanida Nataraja's book "The Blissful Brain: Neuroscience and proof of the power of meditation".

 

The extracts and illustrations have been reproduced with the permission of the publisher & author.

The meditator begins with the intention to clear his mind of thoughts. This intention is reflected in an increase in activity in the attention association area. As he slowly quietens his mind, there are further increases in activity in the attention association area. At the same time, activity in the frontal cortex regions surrounding the attention association area decreases. This is the result of focused attention and reflects a filtering out of all information that is not deemed important. Attention is drawn to the present-now experience, which triggers a shift to right-brained activity, as attention is predominantly a right-brained function. This shift from 'intellectualised' left-brain thinking is a further explanation of why the experience cannot be described or analysed: the right brain does not have the ability to categorise and analyse the experience; it intuitively 'feels' it. 

At the same time, the meditator also becomes less aware of sensory information stemming from his external environment, and therefore less aware of his orientation in space and time. This dissolving of the self / non-self boundary is reflected in a decrease of activity in the right parietal lobe. Not only does it have an impact on activity in the right orientation association area (leading to a loss of sense of space and/or time), but it also has an impact on activity in the right verbal-conceptual area, leading to an inability to convey the experience efficiently through language. (see step 1 in illustration above)

This chain of events is thought to result in the activation of two important structures in the limbic system. There are extensive connections between the parietal lobe's orientation association area and the hippocampus (see step 2 on illustration above), which in turn stimulates the amygdala. These two structures are responsible for assigning emotional significance to our experiences. The activation of the hippocampus conveys emotional significance of the experience and imprints the emotionally charged experience and imprints in our long term memory.

When practicing mindfulness the activation of the amygdala confers emotional significance to the lack of sensory information. Through these actions on the hypothalamus, the amygdala modifies the activity of the autonomic nervous system (see step 3 in illustration above). 

First a blissful, peaceful state arises from the maximal activation of the parasympathetic (relaxation) nervous system, and then, as the different neural, hormonal and other triggers swing in, there is a maximal activation of the sympathetic (arousal) nervous system, producing a mentally clear and alert state. Physiological effects, such as changes to breathing rate, heart rate or blood pressure are the result of the amygdala's effect on midbrain structures that control these functions (see step 4 in illustration above).

Both of the left and right orientation and verbal-conceptual association areas are therefore switched off. A lack of activity in the right orientation association area gives rise to a sense of unity and wholeness, where as lack of activity in the left orientation association area results in the dissolving of the self/non-self boundary

The evidence base for mindfulness at work

In September 2014, Mindfulness teachers and researchers met with members of the business community to explore the evidence base for mindfulness in the workplace.  The 2014 Mindfulness at work conference  event was a collaboration between Juliet Adams (founder of Mindfulnet.org) and Dr Jutta Tobias (Cranfield University School of Management). 

Research into mindfulness has increased exponentially in the last five years, as has media interest. Most research has focused on the impact of mindfulness training developed for an 'unhealthy' population as a form of therapy - for example for those suffering from stress or depression. 

By June 2016 around 100 research studies specifically exploring the use of mindfulness in the workplace had been published.  These studies demonstrate that mindfulness can be very effective in addressing a number of major challenges that businesses are facing; such as presenteeism, lack of focus and attention, and coping with ever more complex work demands. As a result many organisations are now offering their staff mindfulness training, and many executive education programmes now include mindfulness.

In response to increasing demands to teach mindfulness to a 'well' population, mindfulness teachers have been forced to reconsider how best to teach mindfulness in order to meet the demands of the modern workplace. Various mindfulness at work 'best practice' is starting to emerge but this is not always shared or disseminated.  What is needed going forward is a mindfulness teaching model developed specifically for the workplace.  


A key conference aim was to gather and share the latest evidence on how mindfulness could assist in the workplace in areas such as decision making, productivity, attention, and well-being.   In the opening keynote of the conference, Dr Tobias and Dr David Denyer outlined the theory of 'Evidence based management'.  They explained that evidence based decision making takes into account a number of different perspectives, which collectively form the 'evidence base'.  

Applying this model to mindfulness at work, they explored the evidence for mindfulness at work through four lenses:

  1. Scientifically evaluated research - randomised control trials and peer reviewed research papers1

  2. Practitioner experience - the experience and knowledge of mindfulness teachers and those working with mindfulness, including policy makers

  3. Organisational perspectives - gathered from employees who attend mindfulness training and apply it to their work, and leaders looking at the impact of mindfulness on the organisation departmentally or as a whole.

  4. Policy and stakeholders perspectives - gathered from forums such as the UK All Party Parlimentary Group (APPG) on Mindfulness and best practice guidelines.

The conference' key message was the importance of practitioners, researchers, and  individual employees working together to share information that will in time form a robust evidence base for mindfulness at work.

 
 

Research relating to mindfulness at work


On this page you will find a list of research which specifically focusses on the workplace applications of mindfulness at work.  

In June 2016 100 workplace specific mindfulness research papers had been published. By 2020, 270 research studies had been published. 

Of the 100 studies in 2016, 32 are Randomises Control Trials (RCT) - considered the gold standard of research studies. 7 studies are Meta-analysis.  The papers include studies on employees, supervisors manages and leaders.


Employment sectors included in the studies included the Armed forces, Architects, Call centre staff, Catering and hospitality, consultancy, Education, (teachers & university staff, Emergency services, Financial / Insurance staff, Government organisations, Healthcare (Doctors, Nurses, healthcare workers), High Tech, HR, Judiciary, Manufacturing, Sales, Social work, Transport, Telecoms, Utilities. 

The highest number of studies (24 in total) involved Healthcare staff (doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals).  The second highest involved those working in education (a total of 10 studies). 

The link between mindfulness and desirable workplace outcomes
Research contributes to the evidence base of how mindfulness can help:

  • 58 studies link mindfulness to factors that improve employee wellbeing

  • 46 studies link mindfulness to factors that improve leadership capability

  • 38 studies link mindfulness to factors that improve employee performance

  • 34 studies link mindfulness to factors that impact on change and organisational transformation


33 Studies link mindfulness to factors that improve safety in high reliability organisations

A good summary of the state of research to date is included in Mindfulness, Behaviour Change and Decision Making: An Experimental Trial,  Jessica Pykett, Rachel Lilley, Mark Whitehead, Rachel Howell, Rhys Jones (January 2016):  Research studies in workplaces have primarily emphasised the role of mindfulness programmes on staff well being, mental health and stress-reduction - tackling problems of sickness absence, preseetism, high staff turnover, depression and anxiety. Research and commentary has also explored the business role of mindfulness in terms of improving employee performance, resilience and social relationships in the workplace, work engagement and in reducing emotional exhaustion and improving job satisfaction".

In 'Contemplating mindfulness at work: An integrative review. (Good, D.J., Lyddy, C.J., Glomb, T.M., Bono, J.E., Brown, K.W., Duffy, M.K.,& Lazar, S.W. (2016). Journal of Management, 42(1), 114-142.) Mindfulness is linked to workplace outcomes as follows:

The evidence base for mindfulness at work: Performance 
Statistics:
In June 2016, 38 workplace context mindfulness research studies linked mindfulness to improved workplace performance.


Research papers were published between 2005-2015, with 71% of them being published between 2012-15. The studies included staff from armed services, call centres, healthcare, high tech, leaders, manufacturing, social work teachers, utility companies

Research linking mindfulness to improved workplace performance includes:

 

  • Mindfulness widens your attentional breadth    Dane, E. (2010). Paying attention to mindfulness and its effects on task performance in the workplace. Journal of Management 37(4), 997-1018.

  • Mindfulness-based practices in the workplace enhance employee self-regulation of thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, linking them to both performance and employee well-being in the workplace. In addition, mindfulness enhances social relationships in the workplace, making employees more resilient in the face of challenges, and increased decision making and task performance.    Theresa M. Glomb, Michelle K. Duffy, Joyce E. Bono and Tao Yang,(2011): Mindfulness at work. Personnel and Human Resources Management, Volume 30, 115-157

  • Study involving 231 employees concluded that mindfulness is beneficially associated with employee well-being, as measured by emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, and psychological need satisfaction, and with job performance, as measured by task performance, organizational citizenship behaviours

  • Reb J, Narayanan, J, & Ho ZW, (2013). Mindfulness at Work: Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Awareness and Absent-mindedness. Mindfulness, February 2015, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 111-122

 

The evidence base for mindfulness at work: Relationships
Statistics:

In June 2016,  45 workplace context mindfulness research studies linked mindfulness to improved relationships at work. The papers were published between 2008-2015, with 71% being published between 2012-15. The studies included employees from a wide range of sectors

 

Mindfulness improves employee relationships: research includes:

  • Persons who practice mindfulness are better able to cope and remain calm in difficult work situations; be more likely to experience work difficulties as challenges than threats; enjoy their work more; be more adaptable at work; and have more positive interpersonal relations at work.     McCormick, Donald W & Hunter J (2008) Mindfulness in the workplace: an exploratory study.

  • Mindfulness may benefit equanimity both outside and inside the workplace. The study suggests that mindful people were less hostile in their behaviours in part because they were less prone to hostile feelings.    Krishnakumar S, Robinson MD (2015) Maintaining An Even Keel: An affect-Mediated Model of Mindfulness and Hostile Work Behaviour

  • Mindfulness influences attention, with downstream effects on functional domains of cognition, emotion, behaviour, and physiology. Ultimately, these domains impact key workplace outcomes, including performance, relationships, and well-being. Good, Lyddy, Glomb, Bono, Brown, Duffy, Baer, Brewer, Lazar (2015) Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review

Mindfulness improves leadership: research includes:

 

  • Supervisor mindfulness reduced employee emotional exhaustion and increased employee work-life balance. It improved employee performance and staff engagement. Supervisor mindfulness was positively related to employee job satisfaction and psychological need satisfaction. Furthermore, leader mindfulness was positively related to overall job performance, as well as to in-role performance and organizational citizenship behaviours    Reb J, Narayanan J, & Chaturvedi S, 2012. Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness on Employee Well-Being and Performance: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

  • A study involving over 1000 leaders in a range of roles in organisations across New Zealand concluded "The findings of this study attest to the positive impact that mindfulness seems to have in combating a number of dysfunctional outcomes affecting today's leaders.    Roche, M., Haar, J. M., & Luthans, F. (2014) The Role of Mindfulness and Psychological Capital on the Well-Being of Leaders. Journal of Occupational Health

  • Research on healthcare managers found that significant positive changes in leadership were reported by mindfulness retreat participants and that this was confirmed by their colleagues. The aspects of leadership which showed statistically significant improvements were 'leadership effectiveness' and 'balanced processing.' Follow-up interviews were carried out post-intervention which showed significant increases in mindfulness and corresponding decreases in stress that were sustained across eight weeks post-retreat.  Wasylkiw, L. (2015) The impact of mindfulness on leadership effectiveness in a health care setting: a pilot study" Journal of health organization and management Vol 29 (7) pp893 - 911.

 

The evidence base for mindfulness at work: Well-being

 

Statistics: In June 2016, 58 workplace context mindfulness research studies linked mindfulness to improvements in employee well-being. Research was conducted between 2008-2015, with 75% published between  2011-16 75%. Employees included in the research include armed forces, bio-tech, call centres, emergency services, healthcare, hotels, insurers, leaders, manufacturing, phamaceuticals, sales, social work, teachers, transport companies, universities

 

Mindfulness improves well-being: research includes an RCT study with Dow Chemicals employees. After mindfulness training Stress decreased, Mindfulness, resilience, work engagement and vigour and employee well-being increased. Key improvements included

  • 30 percent reduction in perceived stress

  • 50 percent decrease in number of high stress episodes

  • 13 percent increase in resiliency

  • 15 percent incroserrease in work engagement and vigour

  • 50 percent decrease in employee burnout

  • Aikens, Astin, Pelletier, Levanovich, Baase, Park, Bodnar (2014)  Mindfulness goes to work: impact of an online workplace intervention. Mindfulness leads to improved work engagement and general well-being. It also improves job satisfaction, hope, optimism, resilience. The results indicate that non-reactivity and being non-judgemental are important skills for the workplace

  • Peter Malinowski and Hui Jia Lim (2015) Mindfulness at work: Positive affect, hope, and optimism mediate the relationship between dispositional mindfulness, work engagement and Well-being.

  • A study involving Employees in a busy call centre - After mindfulness training client satisfaction increased. Stress anxiety, depression, fatigue and negative affect (low mood) decreased for all employees throughout the intervention   Grégoire, S., Lachance, L., & Taylor, G. (2015) Mindfulness, mental health and emotion regulation among workers.

Mindfulness reduces the risk of burnout: research includes:

  • Research involving 113 Canadian elementary school teachers concluded that  Teachers who participated in mindfulness training showed greater focused attention and working memory capacity, and occupational self-compassion, as well as lower levels of occupational stress and burnout at post-program and follow-up.    Roeser, R. W., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R., & Harrison, J. (2013)  Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control field trials.

  • "Participating in an abbreviated mindfulness training course adapted for primary care clinicians was associated with reductions in indicators of job burnout, depression, anxiety, and stress. Modified mindfulness training may be a time-efficient tool to help support clinician health and well-being, which may have implications for patient care"   Fortney, Luchterhand, Zakletskaia, Zgierska, Rakel (2013)  Abbreviated Mindfulness Intervention for Job Satisfaction, Quality of Life, and Compassion in Primary Care Clinicians: A Pilot Study

  • A pilot study working with Dutch GPs showed promising results in assisting busy practitioners in reducing stress and burnout using a short course. The study shows that Mindfulness for GPs is feasible and might result in fewer burnout symptoms and increased work engagement and wellbeing.    Verweij, Waumans, Smeijers, Lucassen, Rogier Donders, van der Horst, Speckens (2016) Mindfulness-based stress reduction for GPs: results of a controlled mixed methods pilot study in Dutch primary care

 

The evidence base for mindfulness at work:  Training format, duration, session length, practice requirement
Statistics: Of the 100 papers published in June 2016, most did not specify the exact format of the mindfulness intervention (MBI) used, making it difficult to compare like with like.  Of those that did state the MBI used, 12 studies used MBSR,  and 6 studies used MBCT. 

 

  • 28 studies demonstrated the achievement of desirable workplace outcomes from shortened courses

  • 20 studies demonstrated the achievement of desirable workplace outcomes from courses with shortened durations, and or session lengths

  • 20 studies demonstrated the achievement of desirable workplace outcomes from courses with shortened practice requirements

  • Of the studies that documented the duration of mindfulness courses studied, 18 were 8 week duration: 11 were 4-6 week duration.  The latter demonstrated desirable outcomes from shortened courses.

  • The Duration of teaching sessions in the studies varied from 30 mins (2 studies),  1 hour (3 studies) 1.5 hours (3 studies), 2.5 hours (3 studies) 

  • Daily practice requirements for participants for the duration of the course varied from 10 mins (3 studies) 15 minutes (6 studies), 20 minutes (6 studies) -all produced desirable workplace outcomes, demonstrating that shortened practice requirements can produce similar outcomes to longer practice times.

  • 6 studies demonstrated a direct correlation between practice time and outcomes: in general the more you practice, the better the outcomes

  • 10 studies demonstrated that the impact of mindfulness training continues after the training ends

 

Gaps in evidence and open questions remaining:

  • Mindfulness, Behaviour Change and Decision Making: An Experimental Trial (2016) comments that "It is however clear that there are still significant research gaps - particularly in the case of programmes with non-therapeutic goals.

  • There is limited research on the use of mindfulness for workplace learning, decision making, productivity, organisational culture, adaptability, values, behavioural, social and organizational change.

  • There lacks a substantial body of evidence on mindfulness and leadership, creativity, work engagement, job satisfaction, emotional exhaustion and employees' cognitive skills.

  • There is a wide range of evidential standards present within existing studies on mindfulness. The activities of control groups are not always thorough, and there is often an over-reliance on self-report questionnaire methods which are not uncontested in field of psychology.

  • Studies often lack independence in terms of funding sources and the private interests of the research teams.

  • Compounding and/or contradictory variables can make it difficult to discern the actual and potential effects of mindfulness in the workplace."  

 

Open questions remaining include: 

 

  • How effective are workplace based mindfulness interventions in achieving their aims?

  • What works in workplace based mindfulness interventions and what conditions are required for workplace mindfulness to work?

  • Which delivery models are most effective (and does one size fit all?)

  • How does organisational culture impact on outcomes

  • Is it right to assume that evidence gathered in clinical settings will readily translate to the workplace?

Research papers relating to mindfulness at work current June 2016  (By 2020 there are 170 more published)

 

  • Aikens KA1, Astin J, Pelletier KR, Levanovich K, Baase CM, Park YY, Bodnar CM. (2014) Mindfulness goes to work: impact of an online workplace intervention.

  • Alexandre Heeren & Sandrine Deplus & Virginie Peschard & François Nef &

  • Ilios Kotsou & Christophe Dierickx & Laurie Mondillon & Donald J. Robinaugh & Pierre Philippot (2014) Does Change in Self-reported Mindfulness Mediate the Clinical Benefits of Mindfulness Training? A Controlled Study Using the French Translation of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire

  • Amishi P. Jha, Alexandra B. Morrison, Justin Dainer-Best, Suzanne Parker, Nina Rostrup, Elizabeth A. Stanley (2015) Minds "At Attention": Mindfulness Training Curbs Attentional Lapses in Military Cohorts

  • Amy Burton,, Catherine Burgess, Sarah Dean, Gina Z. Koutsopoulou and Siobhan Hugh-Jones (February 2016) How Effective are Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Reducing Stress Among Healthcare Professionals? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Anna Schenström, Sten Rönnberg, Owe Bodlund (2006) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Attitude Training for Primary Care Staff: A Pilot Study Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine January 2006 vol. 11 no. 3 144-152

  • Baer et al 2012 Weekly change in mindfulness and perceived stress in a MBSR: Journal of clinical Psychology

  • Bazarko et al (2013). Journal of Workplace Behavioural Health; vol.28, issue 2, pp.107-133. The impact of an innovative mindfulness-based stress reduction program on the health and wellbeing of nurses in a corporate setting

  • Beckman, H. B., Wendland, M., Mooney, C., Krasner, M. S., et al. (2012). The impact of a program in mindful communication on primary care physicians. Academic Medicine, 87(6), 1-5.

  • Bostoket et al (2013) Can finding headspace reduce work stress? Randomised controlled workplace trial of mindfulness app. Psychosomatic Medicine 75 (3) A36-A37

  • Chiesa A1, Calati R, Serretti A. (2011) Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings.

  • Daire O. Cleirigh, John Greaney (2014) Mindfulness and Group Performance: An Exploratory Investigation into the Effects of Brief Mindfulness Intervention on Group Task Performance

  • Dana Dharmakaya Colgan , Michael Christopher, Paul Michael, Helané Wahbeh (2015) The Body Scan and Mindful Breathing Among Veterans with PTSD: Type of Intervention Moderates the Relationship Between Changes in Mindfulness and Post-treatment Depression

  • Dane E, Brummel BJ (2014) Examining workplace mindfulness and its relations to job performance and turnover intention. Human Relations

  • Dane, E. (2010).  Paying attention to mindfulness and its effects on task performance in the workplace. Journal of Management 37(4), 997-1018.

  • Darren J. Good ; Christopher J. Lyddy ; Theresa M. Glomb ; Joyce E. Bono ; Kirk Warren Brown ; Michelle K. Duffy ; Ruth A. Baer ; Judson A. Brewer ; Sara W. Lazar (2015) Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review

  • David A. Schroeder, Elizabeth Stephens, Dharmakaya Colgan, Matthew Hunsinger, Dan Rubin, Michael S. Christopher (2016) A Brief Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Primary Care Physicians A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Davidson, R.J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., et al. (2003) Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564-570

  • Dawn Querstret and Professor Mark Cropley (2014) Online mindfulness intervention reduces fatigue, negative work-related worry

  • Douglas N. Hales, James Kroes, Yuwen Chen, Kyung Woo (David) Kang (2012) The cost of mindfulness: A case study

  • Duchemin, Anne-Marie MD; Steinberg, Beth A. MS, RN; Marks, Donald R. PsyD; Vanover, Kristin MSW; Klatt, Maryanna PhD (2015) A Small Randomized Pilot Study of a Workplace Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Surgical Intensive Care Unit Personnel

  • Elizabeth A. Stanley, John M. Schaldach, Anastasia Kiyonaga and Amishi P. Jha (2011) Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training: A Case Study of a High-Stress Predeployment Military Cohort

  • Flook et al (2013) Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout and teaching efficiency. Mind, brain and education 7 (3) 182-195

  • Foureur, M., Besley, K., Burton, G., Yu, N., & Crisp, J. (2013). Enhancing the resilience of nurses and midwives: Pilot of a mindfulness-based program for increased health, sense of coherence and decreased depression, anxiety and stress. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 45, 114-125.

  • Franco et al (2010) Reducing teacher's psychological distress through a mindfulness training programme. The Spanish Journal of psychology 13 (2) 184-189

  • Galantino, M., Baime, M., Maguire, M., Szapary, P. O., & Farrar, J. T. (2005). Association of psychological and physiological measures of stress in health-care professionals during an 8-week mindfulness meditation program: mindfulness in practice. Stress & Health :Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, 21, 255-261.

  • Geller, R., Krasner, M., & Korones, D. (2010). Clinician self-care: The applications of mindfulness-based approaches in preventing professional burnout and compassion fatigue. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 39(2), 366.

  • Gold, E., Smith, A., Hopper, I., Herne, D., Tansey, G., & Hulland, C. (2010). Mindfulness-Based stress reduction (MBSR) for primary school teachers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 184-189.

  • Goodman, M. J. & Schorling, J. B. (2012). A mindfulness course decreases burnout and improves well-being among healthcare providers. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 43(2), 119-28.

  • Grégoire, S., Lachance, L., & Taylor, G. (2015). International Journal of Wellbeing:  Mindfulness, mental health and emotion regulation among workers.

  • Hafenbrack, Andrew C., Kinias, Zoe., Barsade Sigal G, 2013 Debiasing the Mind Through Meditation. Mindfulness and the Sunk-Cost Bias

  • Hanne Verweij, Ruth C Waumans, Danique Smeijers, Peter LBJ Lucassen, A Rogier T Donders, Henriëtte E van der Horst, Anne EM Speckens

  • 1 February 2016 Mindfulness-based stress reduction for GPs: results of a  controlled mixed methods pilot study in Dutch primary care

  • Huang SL, Li RH, Huang FY, Tang FC (2015) The Potential for Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Workplace Mental Health Promotion: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial.

  • Hülsheger et al  Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 99(6), Nov 2014 The power of presence: The role of mindfulness at work for daily levels and change trajectories of psychological detachment and sleep quality.

  • Hülsheger UR1, Alberts HJ, Feinholdt A, Lang JW. (2012) Benefits of mindfulness at work: the role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction.

  • Jessica Pykett, Rachel Lilley, Mark Whitehead, Rachel Howell, Rhys Jones (January 2016) Mindfulness, Behaviour Change and Decision Making An Experimental Trial

  • Jha AP, Stanley EA, Kiyonaga A, Wong L, Gelfand L (2010) Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience, Emotion, Vol 10(1), 54-64

  • Jochen Reb, Jayanth Narayanan (2013) The Influence of Mindful Attention on Value claiming in Distributive Negotiations: Evidence from Four Laboratory Experiments

  • Kimberly A. Williams, Maria M. Kolar, Bill E. Reger, and John C. Pearson (2001) Evaluation of a Wellness-based Mindfulness Stress Reduction Intervention: A Controlled Trial. American Journal of Health Promotion: July/August 2001, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 422-432.

  • Klatt et al (2009) The effects of low dose Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR_ld) on working adults. Health Education and Behaviour 36 (3) 212 -233

  • Krishnakumar S, Robinson MD (2015) Maintaining An Even Keel: An affect-Mediated Model of Mindfulness and Hostile Work Behaviour (2105)

  • Lau, M., Colley, L., Willett, B., & Lynd, L. (2012). Employee's preferences for access to mindfulness based cognitive therapy to reduce the risk of depressive relapse-A discrete choice experiment. Mindfulness.

  • Leroya, H., Anseel, F., Dimitrov, N. and Selsa, L. (2013) "Mindfulness, authentic functioning, and workengagement: A growth modeling approach" Journal of Vocational Behavior Vol 82 (3), pp238-247.

  • Levey et al 2012 The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment

  • Limm, H., Gundel, H., Heinmuller, M., Marten-Mittag, B., Nater, U. M.,

  • Siegrist, J., & Angerer, P. (2011). Stress management interventions in the workplace improve stress reactivity: A randomized controlled trial. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 68, 126 -133.

  • Luke Fortney, Charlene Luchterhand, Larissa Zakletskaia, Aleksandra Zgierska, David Rakel (2013) Abbreviated Mindfulness Intervention for Job Satisfaction, Quality of Life, and Compassion in Primary Care Clinicians: A Pilot Study. 

  • Mackenzie et al (2006) A Brief mindfulness based stress reduction intervention for nurses and nurses aides. Applied Nursing Research 19 (2) 105 -9

  • Malarkeya, Jarjourab & Klattc (2013) Workplace based mindfulness practice and inflammation: A randomized trial

  • Malinowski, P. & Lim, H. J. (2015) Mindfulness at work: Positive affect, hope,and optimism mediate the relationship between dispositional mindfulness, work engagement and well-being

  • Manotas et al 2014 Association of brief mindfulness training with reductions in perceived stress and distress in Colombian health care professionals.

  • Marieke K. van Vugt, Amishi P. Jha (2011) Investigating the impact of mindfulness meditation training on working memory: A mathematical modelling approach

  • Maurizio Zollo et al INSEAD (2007) Understanding Corporate Responsibility: An Executive Briefing Results and Insights from Project RESPONSE

  • McCormick, Donald W & Hunter J (2008) Mindfulness in the workplace: an exploratory study.

  • McGarrigle and Walsh (2011) Mindfulness, self-care, and wellness in social work: effects of contemplative training. Journal of Religion and spirituality in Social work: social thought 30(3) 212-233

  • Mental Health Foundation (2010). Mindfulness Report (London: Mental Health Foundation)

  • Michael D. Mrazek, Michael S. Franklin,Dawa Tarchin

  • Phillips, Benjamin Baird, and Jonathan W. (2013) Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering: Schooler University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Michel A et al (2014). Mindfulness as a cognitive-emotional segmentation strategy: an intervention promoting work-life balance

  • Mindfulness All party parliamentary Group (MAPPG)

  • October 2015 Mindful Nation Uk: Report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG)

  • Natalia Karelaia and Jochen Reb (2014) Improving Decision Making through Mindfulness

  • Nicole de Zoysa, Florian A. Ruths, James Walsh, Jane Hutton (2012) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Mental Health Professionals: a Long-Term Quantitative Follow-up Study

  • Ostafin, B.D. and Kassman, K.T. (2012) "Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem solving" Consciousness and Cognition Vol. 21 (2), pp1031-1036.'

  • Patrick K. Hyland, R. Andrew Lee, and Maura J. Mills (2015) Mindfulness at Work: A New Approach to Improving Individual and Organizational Performance

  • Peter Malinowski and Hui Jia Lim (2015) Mindfulness at work: Positive affect, hope, and optimism mediate the relationship between dispositional mindfulness, work engagement and Well-being.

  • Poulin et al (2008) Mindfulness training as an evidence based approach to reducing stress and promoting well-being among human services professionals. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 46 (2) 35-43

  • Reb J, Narayanan J, & Chaturvedi S, 2012. Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness on Employee Well-Being and Performance: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

  • Reb J, Narayanan, J, & Ho ZW, (2013). Mindfulness at Work: Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Awareness and Absent-mindedness. Mindfulness, February 2015, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 111-122

  • Rees, Bronwen (2013) Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust Mindfulness Pilot

  • Roche, M., Haar, J. M., & Luthans, F. (2014, June 16) The Role of Mindfulness and Psychological Capital on the Well-Being of Leaders. Journal of Occupational Health

  • Roeser, R. W., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R., & Harrison, J. (2013) Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control field trials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 787-804.

  • Ruedy, N. E., & Schweitzer, M. E. (2010) In the moment: The effect of mindfulness on ethical decision making. Journal of Business Ethics, 2010(95), 73-87.

  • Schenstrom et al (2006) Mindfulness based cognitive attitude training for primary care staff: A pilot study. Complimentary Health Practice Review 11 (3) 144 - 152

  • Shapiro et al (2005) Mindfulness based stress reduction for health care professionals: Results from a randomized trial. International Journal of Stress Management 12 (2) 164-176

  • Shonin, E.S., Van Gordon, W., Dunn, T., Singh, N. & Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Meditation Awareness Training (MAT) for work-related wellbeing and job performance: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 12, 806-823

  • Simon Gregoire and Lisa Lachance (2014) Evaluation of a brief mindfulness based intervention to reduce psychological distress in the workplace

  • Smith et al (2011) Mindfulness is associated with fewer PTSD symptoms... In urban fire-fighters. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 79(5) 613-617

  • Stanley and Jha (2009) Mind fitness: Improving operational effectiveness and building warrior resilience. Joint Force Quarterly, 55, 144-151.

  • Tammy D. Allen, Kaitlin M. Kiburz (2011) Trait mindfulness and work-family balance among working parents: The mediating effects of vitality and sleep quality

  • Theresa M. Glomb, Michelle K. Duffy, Joyce E. Bono and Tao Yang,(2011): Mindfulness at work. Personnel and Human Resources Management, Volume 30, 115-157

  • Timothy J Vogus and Theresa m Welbourne (2003) Structuring for high reliability: HR practices and mindful processes in reliability-seeking organizations

  • Journal of Organizational Behavior J. Organiz. Behav. 24, 877-903 (2003)

  • Ute R. Hülsheger, Alina Feinholdt and Annika Nübold (2015) A low-dose mindfulness intervention and recovery from work: effects on psychological detachment, sleep quality and sleep duration

  • VICH, M (2015) The Emerging Role of Mindfulness Research in the Workplace and its Challenges. Central European Business Review, North America, 4, sep. 2015.

  • Virgili M (2013) Mindfulness-based interventions reduce psychological distress in working adults: a meta-analysis of intervention studies

  • Walach, H., Nord, E., Zier, C., Dietz-Waschkowski, B., Kersig, S., and Schu, H. (2007) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as a Method for Personnel Development: A Pilot Evaluation. American Psychological Association, 14 (2)188-198.

  • Wasylkiw, L. (2015) The impact of mindfulness on leadership effectiveness in a health care setting: a pilot study" Journal of health organization and management Vol 29 (7) pp893 - 911.

  • Wolever RQ, Bobinet KJ, et al. (2012) Effective and viable mind-body stress reduction in the workplace: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 2012 Apr;17(2):246-58.

  • Zeidan, F., Johnson, S.K., Diamond, B.J., David, Z., and Goolkasian, P. (2010) Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training

  • Consciousness and Cognition, Vol 19 (2), pp597-605

  • Zhang J, Ding W, Li Y, & Wu C (2013) Task complexity matters: The influence of trait mindfulness on task and safety performance of nuclear power plant operators. Personality and Individual Differences 55, 433-439

UK Mindfulness practitioner (teacher) experiences overview

Course duration and format
A number of meta-analysis and other workplace studies published in 2015 and 2016 suggest that shortened mindfulness programmes produce desirable workplace outcomes.  A current problem with the research is that many research studies do not adequately document the length of the mindfulness based intervention (MBI), the ratio of experiential practice time & reflection vs didactic outcome, and the daily practice time requirement.

What is becoming clear is that shortened course duration's with shortened practice requirements can generate similar or identical outcomes.  Practice is a key element, as is a roughly 50/50 split between taught input and mindfulness practice and reflection in class time.

Anecdotally, many mindfulness teachers report that they adapt mindfulness teaching according to the clients and organisational culture - the most common adaptations being shortened practice requirements, shortened sessions, use of language and pair feedback rather than use of the clinical inquiry model which is regarded by many as inappropriate in a workplace environment.

Skilled mindfulness teachers do successfully deliver 8 week x 2.5 hour a week with 20-40 minute daily home practice requirements and report good outcomes.

It would make sense from a neuroplasticity perspective that the longer the time spent practising and discussing mindfulness, the better mindfulness is embedded in the brain - so the argument that longer course duration's and longer practice requirements produce better outcomes is logical.  By 2019 the evidence base for shortened programs had grown, demonstrating the effectiveness for shortened courses (6 weeks long rather than 8 weeks, 1 hour a week rather than 2)  with shortened duration's of home practice (10 minutes + rather than 20-40 minutes). 

Many workplace mindfulness teachers have reported that the requirement for 8 week x 2.5 hour a week and 20-40 minutes home practice may act as a barrier to employer engagement. This is acknowledged in the Mindful Nation report and a number of recently published meta-analysis reports on mindfulness in the workplace.  6 week approaches such as WorkplaceMT  may provide a compromise and can help reduce barriers and increase engagement. 

 

Why are organisations increasingly interested in mindfulness? 
By Juliet Adams MSc FCIPD  6/11/14

"The world is not spinning faster, it just seems that way.  Businesses operate 24/7 and expect constant performance. Workers multitask through multiple projects, teams, and time zones, trying to keep up with too many "top priorities". Many silently wish to, "stop the madness", and wonder why results don't change.  An answer lies in our ability and choice to focus  attention, which may be the most critical management skill of the 21st century."


From Jeremy Hunter/Marc Sokol recent article "Focus is Power: Effectively Treating Executive Attention Deficit Disorder

The quality of your attention directly affects the quality of your performance,  but unfortunately attention is a very limited resource.  Leaders and staff alike learn to manage their attention, rather than their time. Mindfulness enhances your awareness of what you are doing or thinking at any given time. This simple act helps you to clear your mind and focus your attention. Research also demonstrates that mindfulness can increase well-being and resiliance; reduce stress; improve relationships at work, and help you make better decisions.  For these reasons, more and more companies are offering staff training in mindfulness.

Major corporations in the USA, like General Mills, and major employers in the UK, such as the National Health Service, have offered staff mindfulness training in recent years. Google,  eBay and Capitol One are among the many companies that now provide rooms for staff to practise mindfulness in work time. The Harvard Business School and the Peter Drucker School of Management in the USA, and Ashridge Business School and Cranfield School of Management in the UK now include mindfulness principles in their leadership programmes.


Is mindfulness really the solution?

Mindfulness is not a quick fix or a cure all.  Learning mindfulness takes time and practice.  Unlike most training routinely offered to staff, its not something that organisations can read a book on then develop their training programme.  In order to teach mindfulness trainers need a deep understanding of mindfulness which can only be gained through sustained practice over a period of time.  This can lead to frustrations for organisations as they have to rely on external teachers, who can be in short supply.

When considering introducing mindfulness training to staff, its always a good idea to see if its the right solution to the organisational challenges that you seek to address.  The flow chart above summarises some things to consider.  

 

Key approaches to teaching mindfulness at work in the UK


MBSR & MBCT
Mindfulness has its origins in ancient meditation practices. The founder of modern day Mindfulness is Jon Kabat-Zinn who founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the late 1970's. Since then over 18,000 people have completed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme to help with conditions as diverse as chronic pain, heart disease, anxiety, psoriosis, sleep problems and depression.

In the 1990's Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Seagal further developed MBSR to help people suffering from depression. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) combined CBT with Mindfulness. MBCT is clinically approved in the UK by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a "treatment of choice" for recurrent depression.

MBSR and MBCT have been the subject of thousands of research studies.  Both courses were designed primarily for medical and theraputic use.  Both courses are normally 8 weeks in duration, consisting of between 90 minutes and 2 hours taught tuition a week and home practice each day. Many MBCT or MBSR trained mindfulness teachers offer this format of mindfulness training to organisations. 

 

  • Pros: very widely researched, set curriculum.  You know what you are buying.

  • Cons: developed for medical and theraputic use - in its pure format does not always fit with organisational constraints.  Length of practice time required during taught sessions and home practices can be highly challenging for very busy people. For some organisations, 8 weeks is too long.

 

MBCT Light (Frantic World with short practices)
In the best selling self-help book, "Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World", Professor Mark Williams adapts the MBCT 8 week course for a 'well' population.  This readable book is based on up-to-date scientific understanding of mindfulness and includes a programme of short but powerful mindfulness exercises that most people can fit into a busy day. The main difference is that practice time is much shorter, and the order in which practices are taught is slightly different from the MBCT medical and therapeutic model. 


The Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) and other mindfulness training providers such as A Head for Work  and TME offer courses based on 'Frantic World'  to corporate clients, and are reporting great success with these shortened practices.  The OMC offer existing mindfulness trainers Frantic World master classes to help them deliver this version of MBCT for a non clinical population.


WorkplaceMT 
Marina Grazier and Mark Leonard set up TME as a spin off from Oxford University's, Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) to provide mindfulness training for the workplace based on scientific understanding and best practice developed in clinical research and mindfulness teaching. 

Mark was involved in early discussions, which lead to setting up the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) and worked as Projects and Development manager until May 2013. He championed the OMC Mindfulness in the Workplace Project from the start and taught the first training programmes using Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Professor Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman as a course book for corporate clients before co-founding TME.  Later, in collaboration with Juliet Adams, the approach was formalised and called 'WorkplaceMT' (short for Workplace Mindfulness training). 

http://www.workplacemt.com

 

UK Policy and stakeholder overview


By Juliet Adams MSc FCIPD


At this moment in time there are no universally accepted policies on the use of mindfulness in the workplace.  As interest in Mindfulness in the workplace has grown, concerns from various stakeholders have increased.  Concerns include the notion that mindfulness might become excessively diluted or over simplified, that mindfulness might be used as a 'band aid'  for toxic working cultures, or that 'cowboy practitioners' who are inadequately trained or experienced will lead the field into disrepute.  

At the time of writing (June 2016) the key UK stakeholders have adopted an 8 week centric stance which largely ignores the emerging evidence base for shorter courses.  This is likely to change and evolve with time and further research.  2019 update - this stance has now softened to include 'light' versions of mindfulness training in non therapeutic settings. 

Stakeholders


The UK Government
In early 2014 parliamentarians set up a Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG).  The MAPPG has co-chairs from the three main political parties, Chris Ruane (Labour), Tracey Crouch (Conservative) and Lorely Burt (Liberal Democrat). The MAPPG was launched in Parliament on May 7th 2014, with  over 150 people in attendance, including more than 30 Members of Parliament and peers. 
The Mindful Nation UK report was published in October 2016 with a number of recommendations for mindfulness in the workplace.

The Mindfulness Initiative
The Mindfulness Initiative is an advocacy project, aimed at increasing awareness of how mindfulness can benefit society. The Initiative is working with parliamentarians, media and policy makers to develop recommendations on the role of mindfulness in public policy and the workplace.

 
 
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