Can mindfulness and meditation make us less productive?

Meditation and mindfulness are the widely accepted methods of keeping a lid on the nu-work meltdown of 2016. With apps, courses, seminars and work programmes – you can’t avoid the mindfulness trend. However, there’s reason to believe that we’re becoming too mindful, and it will eventually have adverse effects.

A new article from journalist Dawn Foster for The Guardian, suggests that meditation might be triggering backfires globally.

Adopted by companies like Google, Apple, Sony, Ikea, Transport for London and the Department of Health – mindfulness and meditation are becoming an integrated part of the working lifestyle. Research data seems to show that mindful practices at work can potentially boost productivity and lessen sick days.

But, as the article argues, should we be adhering to this one-size-fixes-all solution to work overload? Despite being endorsed by the NHS in lieu of cognitive behavioural therapy, some argue that mindfulness’ ability to clear the mind can reengage suppressed feelings.

Reports of workers triggering mental relapses and creating new anxieties with meditation and spiralling in mental episodes after uncoupling themselves completely with the concept of worry.

‘Kate Williams’, a PhD researcher at the University of Manchester, says that “what we learn through meditation is to explore our experiences with an open and nonjudgemental attitude, whether the experience that arises is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral” – there is a wealth of different reactions to tampering with the fabric of your mental structure, it’s not always a positive change.

For most people, the research shows, mindfulness in moderation is totally fine. For people with pre-existing stress issues and anxiety, it’s slightly more complicated.

If you are worried about the side-effects of meditation, opt for guided mindfulness sessions. Alternatively, use other methods of coping to detox your mind: reading, exercising or simply spending time with friends. Just because it’s the trend of the year, doesn’t mean you have to follow it blindly.