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The hype about mindfulness is annoying when it's all about performance

"Breathe in deeply ... and breathe out" - but then quickly get back to work! Mindfulness techniques like silent meditation and yoga are well on their way to overtaking table tennis tables and barista coffee machines in the hip work environment of startups and corporations. And not just because, in times of Corona restrictions, nobody is in the office to play a match or have a drink.

But if a few breathing exercises before the next meeting, smartphone detox after work and slow food at lunch are used to improve performance, this no longer has anything to do with the idea of ​​mindfulness. Then it's all about doing a quick deal and getting more performance out of the employees and yourself. Introspection and wellbeing - the very idea of ​​mindfulness - fall by the wayside. Studies have shown that meditation and breathing techniques can reduce stress and improve concentration. But that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with mindfulness. Even if the label is stuck on and it is sold that way.

As is so often the case, the mindfulness movement is also a wave that spilled over to us from Silicon Valley with some delay. Google and other tech companies have been using it for years. In this country, in the Corona year 2020, a noticeable number of startups with business models around the topic of mindfulness that are aimed at corporate customers appeared on the scene: With their coaching, yoga videos and meditation instructions via app, companies should offer employees the opportunity to improve their jobs and everyday lives to deal with.

But so that mindfulness does not become a productivity measure, we should not misuse the concept of mindfulness in the work environment, but incorporate it in a meaningful way.

I can confirm that yoga, for example, can help clear your head and reduce back pain. Not only because I suffered from it myself, but also because I help others as a yoga teacher. You can easily accuse me of just swimming on the wave of mindfulness. I can live with that - especially since I've reduced my working hours and finished work after work. Feeling what is good for you is one of the pleasant side effects of mindfulness.

Mindfulness does not help everyone

So it cannot be ruled out that a busy manager and other workoholics could also be helped with a few mindfulness techniques. However, we should then agree that it is not really about mindfulness, but about increasing performance. To be really careful, on the other hand, would mean, for example, developing a feeling for whether the required workload is appropriate or not. Regardless of whether the boss told you about it or you put yourself under pressure.

The fact that more and more people in the work environment are pushing their limits, suffering from burnout and showing other symptoms of exhaustion is worrying. But introducing mindfulness offers in a corporate culture in which the pressure to perform is a top priority is counterproductive. Because that costs time, which has to be taken for it, and could lead to employees coming to the conclusion that they are looking for a less stressful job.

Mindfulness can improve performance - but only as a side effect

Critics who love the fast business and the workload are right that mindfulness techniques are of little help to companies. Mindfulness alone helps people. Providing your employees with a selection of mindfulness offers can, however, be an important development step for the corporate climate. Anyone who feels called to do so should try it - only it shouldn't become an obligation.

Despite all the criticism of the misunderstood performance aspect, I still have to admit one thing: Since I've been dealing with mindfulness, I have been more relaxed about my work and achieve significantly more in a shorter time than before - also thanks to longer breaks. But that should only be a welcome side effect and never the target.

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