This article in the New York Times alleges that mindfulness in the workplace decreases motivation and therefore is something employers should discourage. The title is, “Hey Boss, You Don’t Want Your Employees to Meditate”.
My thoughts, after reading this article:
1. I’d put it more as, rather than that meditation reduces motivation, more like it reduces fear and shame, which unfortunately is often what motivates people to do their jobs.
2. I think the effect meditation has on people’s self-reported motivation to work is less relevant than the effect it has on their objective productivity.
3. As someone who “teaches mindfulness in the workplace”, one issue that I have with how that sort of work is generally portrayed is that maybe small amounts of it do indeed make someone less stressed, more focused, and generally more productive, as the field advertises. But, as the article says, anything resembling “industrial strength” meditative work often makes people less productive in the near term, and this is not commonly admitted.
One of the things I am more certain about the meditative path is, things often get worse before they get better. You’re on a hill, you want to get to the mountain top you can see, but you have to walk through the valley first. One needs to take the pocketwatch apart to clean it, and it can’t tell time while it’s taken apart. To wash clothes and get them clean, the washing machine water has to get dirty first.
However, once on the mountaintop, once the watch is put back together, once the clothes are clean, a meditator is usually observably more productive, efficient, and competent than they were before the meditative journey. My main teacher says that he failed his math and physics in high school before he entered monastic life, but he was a professor of physics years later.
The question is, is their job and other pursuits congruent with our deepest truths and life purpose. Once we have spiritually realized to some extent, we are motivated less by fear, shame, and society’s expectations, and more from the waves of impermanence emanating from and disappearing back into Source. So, if our job is healthy and right for us, we’ll do it a lot better. If it’s unhealthy and wrong for us, we’ll half-ass it and devote our deepest attention to more meaningful pursuits, or, better still, leave it and do something more in tune with our purpose.
4. “Mindfulness is perhaps akin to a mental nap.” That is wrong. Articles in the mainstream media both for and against “mindfulness” and meditation can be frustrating with their simplified view of what the practices are.
5. My main teacher has often said that one of the main reasons people don’t meditate is a fear that it will turn them into a non-responsive sack of potatoes. He said something that I understood as saying that this is just one more trick of the ego, the classic hindrance of doubt.