Mindfulness is described as ”a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.”
While the term has become a bit of a buzzword in the last decade, the concept is not a modern phenomenon. Its roots can be traced back centuries to Hindu and Buddhist practices.
In recent years mindfulness has been encouraged in workplaces around the world in a bid to counteract work strain and employee stress.
In fact, scientific studies have shown that mindfulness can improve sleep and job satisfaction amongst workers.
However, new research conducted by the Carlson School of Management and Católica-Lisbon School of Business & Economics found that mindfulness meditation did not affect a person’s quality of work for better or worse, but it did impact their motivation.
The research was completed by university professors Kathleen Vohs and Andrew Hafenbrack. Together they conducted 15 experiments. Participants were randomly assigned to either meditate for up to 15 minutes or do a neutral comparison task.
Before they were assigned a task participants were asked how motivated they were to complete it and how much time they felt like spending on it.
According to Vohs, ”The results were clear. Compared to others, people who had just meditated reported being demotivated.”
“This finding offers a new perspective,” said Vohs. “Previous studies have shown that meditation increases mental focus, meaning they should have performed better on the tasks given to them. Instead, our research shows it contributes to lower levels of motivation and appears to cancel out any benefit.”
On a positive note, mindfulness had no effect on the quality of the participant’s work. So, the next time you practice some mindfulness at lunchtime, just make sure that you don’t skive off for the afternoon.