Mindfulness – a concept originally from Buddhist meditation, aiming to achieve deep awareness of the present moment – is booming. Business gurus have added it to their arsenal of performance-enhancing techniques, and big corporations from Google to Pricewaterhousecoopers and Transport for London are offering it to their staff as an antidote to stress and information overload.
Jane Little talks to Sharon Salzberg, one of America’s leading Buddhist meditation teachers, about the benefits of mindfulness meditation and its potential pitfalls. She also hears from Arianna Huffington, chief editor of the Huffington Post and a leading advocate of the technique; and Ron Purser, a professor of management studies and long-time practitioner of Buddhism who is critical of the way mindfulness has been harnessed to enhance the profits of big business.
In the end, if mindfulness is detached from its Buddhist roots and becomes a mere self-help tool used to increase productivity, is it in danger of falling prey to precisely the ills it sets out to cure?