Keeping employees healthy physically and mentally is the focus of most HR efforts, and one way to keep employees healthy mentally is to practice mindfulness.
So what is mindfulness? Is it meditation, breathing exercises, extra focus?
Honestly, mindfulness can be whatever you want it to be. But according to the good old dictionary, it has two definitions:
- The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- A mental state is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness is easy to implement which is why 71% of employers are upping their investments in mindfulness and meditation resources in 2022, according to a Wellable Labs report. Plus, there’s significant evidence to support the positive impact mindfulness has on stress, anxiety, burnout, cooperation, productivity and job satisfaction.
Recent research that explored the relationship between guilt, compassion, and meditation uncovered a possible negative side effect on ethical behavior. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who engaged in certain types of mindfulness were less prone to want to make amends after an action that made them feel guilt.
Eight experiments were done using focused-breathing meditation to achieve a state of mindfulness. After all was said and done, the researchers found that the study participants experienced reduced states of guilt and shame, which impacted their desire to make things right.
Embracing negative emotions
That may not be such a good thing. Negative emotions like guilt and shame are powerful psychological motivators we use to improve behavior and make us better people/co-workers. When these feelings are lessened, and we make a mistake, it follows that we may not be as motivated to make amends.
Yes, all employers want to help their employees handle stress better and make their work life as pleasant as possible. However, trying to avoid all negative emotions and thoughts isn’t good either.
According to the researchers, mindfulness meditation draws attention away from stressful things – both in the past and future – and focuses on the present moment. This induces a state of calmness, placing a person’s focus on their own physical sensation and experiences, and away from everyone and everything else.
Practice loving kindness meditation
While you want to help your employees deal with stress, instead of focused-breathing meditation, experts suggest giving loving-kindness meditation (LKM) a go. It’s can be used to boost well-being and reduce stress without affecting one’s moral compass.
In fact, people who practice LKM are said to increase their capacity for forgiveness, connection to others and self-acceptance – all good things.
Practicing LKM involves exercises where you picture other people in your mind and send them well wishes. And since it doesn’t affect one’s moral compass, it may be a better alternative for the business world.