Corporate America and Meditation have been in contrast for so long. Usage of these words together or even in the same sentence was found to be sarcastic or satirical in many articles. But this cannot happen anymore. As of now, the corporate mindfulness may not be common like cafeterias and so on. But soon, they will get the attention and importance they deserve.
The multinational companies and the tech enterprises have been growing day by day at a very rapid pace. These companies have been shaping public life in America and are also playing a very vital role in the public life. Americans started to concentrate on a wide range of self help philosophies like Yoga, ancient Buddhist practices, body work, etc. All the employees, workers and organizations have adopted “Mindful Work” (as called by David Gelles, a New York Times journalist) – like meditation, breath work, etc. It is not surprising to adopt these techniques as these are known to reduce stress, strengthen the immune system, make you healthy, increase concentration levels and also productivity.
David Gelles writes not only like a reporter or a typical journalist but also as a practitioner by mentioning his personal experiences. These experiences include how he got to know about meditation in India when he was on a trip during his college days. Then after some days, he rediscovered mindfulness which is a subset of meditation. In meditation, you have to pay attention on the present moment in a particular way. You have to sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing with a calm mind. This will increase your concentration and gives a lot of peace and good health.
One of the best stories mentioned by David Gelles is the story of Mark Bertolini, The CEO of Aetna. Mark Bertolini met with a severe accident when he was skiing in 2004. He survived, but with debilitating pain. He found pain medication useless and adapted yoga and meditation. He then lived better without the pain consuming him. After observing its uses, he started meditation and mindfulness seminars at work. He started with the senior staff and then introduced this to all other levels of workers. As a result, the healthcare expenses of the employees of Aetna decreased. Even the stress levels decreased which increased productivity and time management. Now, the company says that they have added US $ 3000 per year per employee in productivity gains. All this is just because of introducing mindfulness in the office.
Other examples include Patagonia, Ford Motor company. When William Clay Ford Jr. was the CEO of Ford Motors, he tried to change the practice which is short of mindfulness with the help of his teacher Jack Kornfield. As usual, mindfulness can be misused as well as used properly. It can even help soldiers stay calm and peaceful in a camp and fight more effectively. Gelles was not always successful in putting his personal experiences together with case studies. Working in media or as a journalist is very stressful and it is hard to get a good fame by overcoming all the hurdles as a business writer because it will be followed by many educated people every day.
As the technology keeps growing and spreading wide in this world, it will be interesting to see if a culture survives or competes with the technology or vanishes! In the end, it can be said that it is very important for companies to adopt mindfulness and start practicing it as it will be advantageous to the company in some or the other form. There are many examples which are provided, so it is true!