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March 23, 2013

Relieve workplace stress through 'mindfulness'

(Continued)

Corporations have come to mindfulness slowly, usually after finding their expensive “leadership development” programs didn't produce very much and left a lot of participants cold. Polly LaBerre, writing on the Harvard Business Review blog, says these types of programs usually resulted in the wrong people being elevated within an organization.

“What if, instead of stuffing people with curricula, models, and competencies, we focused on deepening their sense of purpose, expanding their capability to navigate difficulty and complexity, and enriching their emotional resilience?” she asked. “What if, instead of trying to fix people, we assumed that they were already full of potential and created an environment that promoted their long-term well-being?”

Beyond the corporate world

The benefits may extend well beyond the corporate world to help individuals cope better in everyday life. The University of Massachusetts Medical School is among the academic institutions that have established a Center for Mindfulness. At UMASS, there's even a mindfulness training program for teens.

Some believe mindfulness may be helpful in treating depression. A study in the February 2013 journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggests why.

According to Catherine Kerr, lead author of the new study and director of translational neuroscience at Brown University, when someone is depressed their attention can become consumed by negative thoughts.

Mindfulness allows patients to disengage from this negative thought pattern through the "body scan" technique. Patients are asked to systematically pay attention to each region of the body. As this happens, the alpha rhythms that are responsible for the flow of sensory information to the brain fluctuate.

If you're thinking this all sounds really touchy-feely, you're not alone. But the number of books and CDs on the subject continues to proliferate, suggesting more people are giving it a try. And that includes some of the world's largest corporations who are now using it in an effort to help make executives and employees healthier and more productive.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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