Mindfulness meditation is a practice coming from Buddhism, where you concentrate on the here and now and try to be accepting of whatever you find.
The meditation practice is known to achieve a big number of different effects. People can more easily cope with pain. They feel more alive and can concentrate better.
Especially the last effect is sought after by companies and some of them encourage meditation even during work time.
However, anyone with more then a fleeting experience with mindful meditation might feel some wrinkles on his brow now.
There is no doubt that meditation increases concentration, but the second big effect is that it makes you know yourself more. And people who know themselves better then before might find something they did not realize before and they might want to change that now.
In fact it is common for serious newly-meditators to make a big change in their life half a year or so after starting the mindfulness meditation. That could be a divorce or a job change to a completely new field.
Now imagine you are a company like google or Amazon. Your employees start meditating and half a year later half of them finds out that they are really unsatisfied with their current job. Not that good, right?
Also meditation tends to show people what really makes them happy. And that is frequently not being a busybody with daily overwork just to be able to pay for that bigger house you can only enjoy one day a week as a result of your job.
They might even decide to go minimalistic! What a horror! Imagine the effect on the economy! Half amount of work done, half amount of stuff bought! The people might be happier, but the economy would sink like a torpedoed freighter!
Just imagine the effect on the fashion industry when people decide they don’t need to buy everything new each year, but instead wear their clothes until they break down after 10 or 20 years! It would be a complete bloodbath!
And of course it would severely decrease the motivation of people to work just for money. Because motivation needs the feeling that you are not satisfied with the current state of your life.
But meditation makes you more satisfied with what what you have and decreases the amount of stuff that you “need” to have to feel satisfied.
And if you need a lot less, you have a lot less reasons to work.
Am I imagining things?
A study concerning the effect of mindfulness meditation on motivation has shown exactly the effect I have described.
Among those who had meditated, motivation levels were lower on average. Those people didn’t feel as much like working on the assignments, nor did they want to spend as much time or effort to complete them. Meditation was correlated with reduced thoughts about the future and greater feelings of calm and serenity — states seemingly not conducive to wanting to tackle a work project.
But wait, employers of the world, it is too early to call for the dogs of war to hunt down meditation!
Then we tracked everyone’s actual performance on the tasks. Here we found that on average, having meditated neither benefited nor detracted from a participant’s quality of work.
Huh? How can that be? The workers are less motivated, but achieve the same?
It looks like the benefits of mediation, especially concentration, are nullified by the motivation loss. Or the motivation loss is nullified by better quality. Choose yourself.
But, dear employers, maybe there is a win-win situation possible. Let your workers meditate. Reap the benefits. And then, additionally, motivate them with a good goal and not just a monetary incentive.