Corporates see benefit of mindfulness
ARE YOU present in the moment – aware of where you are, how you feel and what you are doing?
Are you sitting at your workstation at this moment trawling the internet, to procrastinate before paying attention to the pile of work on your desk? Ever tried being mindful? According to Mindful, a nonprofit organisation, mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”.
And leadership expert Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, author of a best-selling book on the subject of mindfulness, says, the world’s top companies are increasingly introducing mindfulness practices into their organisations.
This is in an effort to help employees reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus and attention, and ultimately enhance productivity – and South African companies are starting to follow suit.
“Mindfulness is no longer an opaque concept reserved for yoga retreats and motivational memes,” Goodman-Bhyat said.
“The concept and practice has – not surprisingly – found grateful and receptive audiences in many of the world’s leading companies, including here in South Africa.
“The idea that people who practise mindfulness principles might be on the fringes of society belongs to a past era, and these days there is enough data, research and scientific information supporting not only the personal, but also commercial benefits of a more in-tune, holistic approach to life and work.”
Goodman-Bhyat said: “Mindfulness is a respected, acknowledged global movement, pioneered by PhD Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is increasingly becoming mainstream, and a growing number of top leaders are starting to incorporate mindfulness-based practices and principles in their personal and professional lives.”
Mindfulness programmes and practices are known to have been introduced at some high-profile organisations, including Google, Intel, Aetna, Keurig Green Mountain and Target.
Locally, Goodman-Bhyat recently published IntheFlow – Taking Mindfulness to Work, the result of her years-long research into the impact of implementing mindfulness practices in the workplace.
It soon leaped to the business best-seller list post-publication, with business leaders enthusiastically backing the six-prompt formula that forms the basis of the guide.
Allon Raiz, chief executive of Raizcorp, noted that GoodmanBhyat had managed to build the bridge between the hectic chaos of IT’S AN age-old debate – do you eat three square meals a day or snack on several smaller portions throughout the day to lose weight?
According to Irene Labuschagne, a dietitian at the Nutrition Information Centre, Stellenbosch University, the jury is still out.
This despite a recent report from the Daily Mail UK quoting the head of the National Obesity Forum in the UK, former Professor David Haslam, as saying frequent snacking is ideal for busy professionals, and the concept of three meals a day is “outdated”.
He said: “Feeding your body little and often with vegetable-based snacks ensures your metabolic system is steadily stimulated and provides a continuous supply of nutrients – particularly important for today’s busy lifestyles.”
According to Labuschagne, limited trial research does not support the assertion that meal everyday business and the clarity and serenity that being present and in the moment brings.
“IntheFlow takes quite an ethereal concept and makes it practical for people to understand and, more importantly, to apply,” he said.
Global studies conducted on international organisations (including Fortune 500 companies) show a 19% decrease in stress, 37% increase in productivity, 40% increase in focus, 34% increase in emotional control and 37% decrease in overwhelm in companies where mindfulness practices have been introduced.
A recent study found that participants in six-to-nine week mindfulness courses experienced a 42% stress reduction, as well as improvement in productivity, time management and job satisfaction.
Goodman-Bhyat says introducing mindfulness practices in the workplace does not take massive amounts of time, strategising or financial investment.
“But it does take commitment and championing by leaders, who are invested in shifting perspectives and changing the status quo of ‘how we do things around here’. When this happens, impact on an organisation’s wellness – from individual level to company performance, is indisputable.”
Following the lead of their global counterparts, South African organisations are also starting to pay attention to the benefits of incorporating mindfulness-based programmes and principles in their work environments. Large corporations like Woolworths and Old Mutual, as well as medium-sized and entrepreneurial businesses are investigating options for mindfulnessbased training, leadership development or group learning sessions. “Further, more and more executive education, MBA and leadership development courses conducted at SA’s top tertiary institutions are offering mindfulness training as an integral part of their curricula, so it’s inevitable that the concepts will start trickling into the business environment,” said Goodman
Bhyat. frequency consistently impacts metabolism. “No recommendation can be made at this time… Many people believe that eating more meals leads to increased metabolic rate, so that your body burns more calories overall. It is true that the body expends a certain amount of energy digesting and assimilating the nutrients in a meal.”
The local dietitian continued: “This is termed the thermic effect of food and amounts to about 20-30% of calories for protein, 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fat calories. The thermic effect of food is around 10% of the total calorie intake. However, what matters here is the total amount of energy consumed, not how many meals you eat.”
So does snacking indeed aid in weight loss – we asked Labuschagne? “No, not based on current evidence. But if snacking makes a person experience fewer cravings and less likely to binge, it is probably a good idea,” she said. – vuyo.mk[email protected]
Leadership expert and author of a bestselling book on mindfulness, Debbie Goodman-Bhyat.