Mindfulness 2.0

Pamela Ressler


MindfulnessMindfulness 2.0? In case you haven’t noticed the meditation practice of mindfulness has rapidly been gaining popularity. Once the purview of meditation halls and Eastern religious practice, mindfulness training is now a component in many successful corporate environments. This renaissance of mindfulness, informed by research in neurophysiology, organizational leadership, education and technology, has created an exciting intersection which can be referred to as Mindfulness 2.0 — a new way of considering the benefits of mindfulness in our fast-paced business and personal lives.

Mindfulness refers to bringing attention and focus to the present moment, often by retraining our mind to respond versus react to situations.  A fear of many business leaders is that by incorporating mindfulness they will lose their drive or edge in decision-making, problem-solving, or innovation. This is a misconception, as it has been shown that mindfulness training can increase one’s ability for creative thinking, as well as shift from reactive to responsive decision making. In fact we are learning that mindfulness is a trainable skill that can be a beneficial antidote to the pressures of a modern workplace environment. Recent studies have suggested that positive changes in creative problem solving, increased focus and more effective coping strategies can be achieved in as little as 8 weeks of mindfulness training.

Often employees and corporate leaders are surprised by the culture shift that occurs when mindfulness is incorporated in the workplace environment. Google has been a leader in integrating mindfulness training into their corporate environment through an internal program entitled: Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI). This program has exceeded Google’s expectation of popularity, over one thousand employees have participated in SIYLI and there are over 400 employees on the waiting list for the next offering.  Bill Duane, a Google engineer, explained to Wired Magazine why he sought out mindfulness training at Google, “My old coping strategy—the bourbon and cheeseburger method—wasn’t working.” Bill Duane not only found a new coping strategy in mindfulness training, but it enabled him to become more responsive and less reactive in the workplace.

While Google was an early adopter in the field of introducing mindfulness into the corporate culture, this is not simply a Silicon Valley high-tech, “left-coast” fad.  General Mills began to offer mindfulness leadership training programs internally in 2006 and expanded their program, Cultivating Leadership Presence through Mindfulness, to experienced leaders in other organizations in 2009. General Mills found that among those business leaders participating in Cultivating Leadership Presence through Mindfulness:

  • 80% reported a positive change in their ability to make better decisions with more clarity.
  • 89% reported enhanced listening capabilities – to themselves and to others.

As our workplaces evolve through increased use of technology and fast-paced demands that were unimagined a decade ago, how can we create and sustain environments that support innovation, creativity, responsiveness and focus? Perhaps Mindfulness 2.0 is one answer.

Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, MS-HN-BC, is the founder of Stress Resources and a Senior Wellness Consultant with Comprehensive EAP. You can follow her on Twitter @pamressler or @stressresources