Why Mindfulness Matters In Organizations

My father, Ed Ryterband, is an organizational psychologist and a committed meditator. Last month, we worked together to create an article about the importance of mindfulness for leaders in business.

Beyond individual leaders, it’s possible for mindfulness to inform the culture of an entire organization. Using mindfulness tools to build empathy, co-workers can more effectively anticipate each other’s needs, and management can better understand the challenges and acknowledge the successes of the people on their teams. Because of the kindness and clarity that mindfulness cultivates, communication can improve and conflict can be resolved more easily. And perhaps most fundamentally of all: mindfulness bonds people. Group mindfulness practices can provide a felt sense of interconnection which brings care and compassion into working relationships.

Mindfulness is a powerful set of tools. I believe in making these tools as broadly available as possible, whether that means using them to understand the most basic structures of our inner lives, or allowing them to bring us into more effective, receptive contact with the world. In the long run, these two agendas are one-in-the-same.

Nature vs. Nurture

On Nature vs. Nurture, the author makes a great point. Not only is the case for nurture growing stronger, the BELIEF that ability is not fixed is a strong predictor of improvement over time. In other words, when we FOCUS ON the nurture side of things and decide that we can better our circumstances, cognitive abilities, performance, etc., we can.

As a society, this points our attention toward the aspects of our inheritance that we can actually affect. It points us toward the way we take care of our children, how we love and root for those in our lives, and how we hold ourselves. It points toward the disempowerment that can come from labeling and pathologizing.

Of course, in the nature vs. nurture argument, there are two sides. The question here is, which side can we do something about?

“Can We End The Meditation Madness”

This article was the most emailed article on NYTimes.com over the weekend.

On one level, I agree with Adam Grant. Mindfulness is not a panacea. And although it provides many well-tested benefits (here’s a meta-analysis of 209 studies involving over 12,000 participants), it certainly isn’t the only “effective treatment for a variety of psychological problems.” It is one of many, and ought to be coupled with others (like psychotherapy, regular exercise, nourishing relationships, a healthy diet, etc.).

That said, there is a deeper benefit of mindfulness which is rare, hard to measure, and often overlooked. When practiced as an integrated path—including practice in life, incorporating impeccable ethics, integrating even the most onerous parts of ourselves—it can offer what is traditionally promised: complete freedom from suffering. Mindfulness can open the door to a love which is more profound than any we could find in a relationship, and a sense of well-being which is utterly independent of the conditions of our lives. No matter how many times I notice that a rubber band can be used as an eraser, I will never find that sort of freedom.

So in a sense, it all comes down to this: What are you seeking? Do you want stress reduction? Do you want a better night’s sleep? Is a boost in your happiness enough, or are you looking for something deeper?