Making Sense of Mindfulness
The claims for mindfulness are extravagant, with its advocates asserting that it can improve a number of conditions – including anxiety, depression, stress, and even drug addiction – while boosting overall happiness and productivity. Can it really deliver on so many promises?
Legitimate objections have been raised about the independence and integrity of the commentaries that Henry Miller has written for Project Syndicate and other outlets, in particular that Monsanto, rather than Miller, drafted some of them. Readers should be aware of this potential conflict of interest, which, had it been known at the time Miller’s commentaries were accepted, would have constituted grounds for rejecting them.
STANFORD – At a recent reception, we encountered a “mindfulness guru.” Yes, that is actually the job title on his business card – one bearing the logo of a huge multinational software company. His job is to teach the company’s stressed-out employees the “art of mindfulness,” which has been described as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” and “knowing what is on your mind.”
Mindfulness seems to be everywhere nowadays. Companies like Apple, Sony, Ikea, and Google have joined the trend, and now include mindfulness or meditation in their employee benefit packages, in the hope of cultivating a happier, healthier, more productive workforce.
Moreover, some hospitals offer mindfulness meditation sessions to patients and employees, and some elementary schools assign rowdy kids mindful “time-outs.” Already this year, The New York Times’ “Well” section has more than a dozen articles about mindfulness. A Google search for the word yields about 67 million hits.