Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Mindfulness Revolution at Work

It has been twenty years exactly since I stopped working in the corporate world, and I still remember the feeling of alienation that would overtake me every morning, as I stepped into my office on the twenty seventh floor of the John Hancock building in Chicago. Corporate America was very different back then. Women had to wear pantyhose in the dead heat of summer, and dress like men with frumpy, dark suits and bow ties. People's performances were measured largely based on superficial perceptions, such as who put in the most amount of hours, or produced the most memos, or convened the most meetings. No attention was paid to the individual's well-being, and its impact on the whole organization's productivity. What I saw then, were people who were encouraged to bring only a very limited part of their selves to the workplace. None of this was made explicit, of course, as it was considered part of the cultural norms of work. I tried to cope as best as I could, and used to sneak out every lunch time, for a yoga class at the Yoga Circle. That was not enough. My whole, real self rebelled in the form of repeated panic attacks, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction that caused me to leave eventually after the birth of my first child. I never looked back.

Fast forward to now, and what a difference twenty years can make! While not mainstream yet, the idea that personal happiness can actually contribute to the good of the whole organization is making its way, slowly, in the media, in academic circles, in the field of organization development, in the minds of corporate luminaries, in actual places of work. Even better is the connection made between the practice of mindfulness, and a happier, more productive workforce. I could not be more pleased!

Below is a compilation of the best research I could find on the topic of mindfulness in the workplace:

From Center for Contemplative Mind in Society:

Practice in the Workplace 
I particularly want to thank Maia Duerr for her groundbreaking exploration of the field of contemplative practices in organizations, that she so generously shared in all the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society reports on the topic. 


  1. Hi Marguerite,

    I would add to the list of resources two genuinely valuable books writted by Michael Carroll. Both are thoughtfully crafted and grounded in practical Dharma. They're probably all you need to make sense of corporate life and even thrive as work becomes practice...

    1. Awake at Work

    2. The Mindful Leader

    I've read them both multiple times and the wisdom seems richer and its subtleties revealed with each pass.

  2. Thank you Chris. These are great resources. Fortunate must be the ones who work with you . . .

    I too, find that good Dharma teachings that quality of becoming richer and richer with each new read.

    May you continue to thrive in your place of work! May you be happy!