Meditation and mindfulness (in general) are undoubtedly trending. From top YouTubers to CEOs practicing (and posting about) workplace meditation to kick off their mornings, it’s easy to feel the need to follow the influencers. But how useful is workplace meditation? In other words, does it actually work?
Studies have shown that meditation is linked to improved overall health and wellbeing.
But the question is if that leads to better performance in school or at work. Mindfulness is a key feature of meditation and is defined as the ‘non-judgmental awareness of the present moment and a specific and self-regulated method of paying attention’. Sounds great, right? Think again. A study has actually yielded results that mindfulness could hurt one’s motivation to finish a task.
In this study, five experiments were done to duplicate the work one would do in an office setting. The activities focused on creativity, accuracy, and attention to detail. Before doing those tasks, part of the participants used meditation while the others had to listen to a clip that encouraged ‘inattentive mind-wandering’. Results indicated that those in the mindfulness group felt less motivated to complete the tasks.
A possible explanation for the results is that mindfulness is linked to the present rather than future awareness. This could demotivate a person to focus on the work or topic to be dealt with. So in the case of a study, mindfulness was not beneficial to the workers. But a limitation of this was that the participants did not know the end goal of their tasks. They didn’t see how the work they would do contributed to the bigger picture.
In some ways, meditation is great.
It can calm down anxiety about a test or simply make you feel less overwhelmed. But proceed with caution and don’t rely on it fully. Nothing beats working out or eating well in terms of self-care. But on the mental side, meditation for a couple of minutes per day won’t hurt.
While I personally don’t meditate daily, I used to during exam season. When things just felt heavy all the time throughout the day, I’d practice mindfulness to help me pull through. But know that there are other alternatives in the realm of self-care. Mine includes boxing to release frustrations and listening to loud music (usually both at once).
Whatever you choose for your self-care, make sure that at the end of the day, it makes you happy.