Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Mindfulness meditation is big business in London's Square Mile

From The Independent
by Siobhan Norton

Advocates say mindful meditation focuses the mind and boosts concentration, therefore boosting productivity. But it has been criticised for abandoning the spiritual premise behind it for secular gain, as Siobhan Norton reports:

"Here, have a raisin. No, not a handful, just the one. Wait, wait, wait, don't eat it. Feel its weight in your palm. Squeeze it gently between finger and thumb. Examine the glossy surface, the bumpy texture. OK, pop it in your mouth. Don't bite, not yet. Roll it on your tongue. How does it taste? Bite once. Can you feel the juices flowing to hit your taste buds? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Does it remind you of anything? You can keep chewing now. And swallow. Feel it move towards your stomach...

This is the much ridiculed lesson that you will probably come across if you embark on a mindfulness course. In a nutshell, it sums up the concept – taking your time, considering the now, experiencing the moment. While there are plenty that imagine a room filled with people sitting staring at raisins must contain more than a few fruitcakes, the reach of mindfulness now extends far beyond some remote Buddhist temples. Tech geniuses are walking the labyrinth in Silicon Valley, world leaders are jostling for a cross-legged sitting space at international conferences, and, even in the City, bankers are taking a pause.

It's a far cry from the classic lunch-is-for-wimps Gordon Gekko-esque idea we normally have of those in the financial sector. We hear more about people depending on cocaine and Red Bull than cognitive exercises. But it is becoming more mainstream, even encouraged, in top banking firms, with many offering mindfulness courses and retreats. Goldman Sachs, Barclays and JP Morgan are just some of the firms investing in the area.

It makes sense that the frantic corporate world should turn to mindfulness. There is a Zen proverb that says: "You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for an hour..."   Full article 


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