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Mindfulness meditation for business

23 July 2015

Headspace app

If you were talking about mindfulness in 2003 – you would be right to consider yourself ahead of the wave. According to Wikipedia “mindfulness-based approaches have been the subject of increasing research interest: 52 papers were published in 2003, rising to 477 by 2012”.

Women’s magazines, especially the health and lifestyle titles, have been referring readers to the practices and techniques involved in mindfulness for years – at least since 2003. But it’s taken the corporate world much longer to cotton on to the importance of reducing stress, and anxiety in the workplace and creating more headspace for employees.

Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness training adapted from Buddhist mindfulness meditation. Studies show that there are physical and mental health benefits to practicing mindfulness – just 10 minutes of meditation practice a day is all that’s needed to gain substantial health benefits.

The Black Dog Institute, for example, uses it in the “treatment of depression, especially preventing relapse and for assisting with mood regulation”, and mindfulness is now seeing uptake among corporates. Apple, Google, Procter & Gamble are just a few offering mindfulness coaching, meditation breaks and similar resources to employees. The provable benefits include: better employee well-being, lower levels of frustration, and improved overall work environment. Employees who practice mindfulness meditation exhibit lower levels of absenteeism, burnout, etc.

Westpac Director Women’s Markets, Inclusion and Diversity, Ainslie Van Onselen believes mindfulness meditation stops you “derailing” and subscribes to the Headspace app herself: “I am pushing to get meditation pods into the workplace. In fact I want mindfulness on the employee agenda.”

In the US there are organisations that have bought bulk subscriptions to apps such as Headspace for their employees.

There are many apps - free and paid – available for iPhone and Android. We tried out Headspace’s free sample program – 10 minutes of meditation for 10 days and if you like the voice of the app’s creator Andy Puddicombe, an English meditation teacher who has trained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, then this could be one way to go to learn meditation and mindfulness techniques.

Headspace has had three million downloads on Apple and more than 500,000 on Android.

Healthline has a round-up of top meditation apps for iPhone and Android if you want to broaden your choice.

It is helpful to have someone guide you in the meditations, especially at first, hence the popularity of the guided apps.