A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to This Blog Post

A funny thing happened on the way to this blog post. My sister sent me this NYT op-ed titled, "Hey Boss, You Don't Want Your Employees to Meditate." 

Based on an article recently published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, the op-ed is so riddled with holes that I felt compelled to pen a rebuttal. 

And then I remembered, "I'm not writing about mindfulness anymore." And so halfway through my rebuttal - which featured a real zinger about broken cars rusting on somebody's lawn - I just stopped writing. 

Let the mindfulness partisans hash it out. 

Still, though, this NYT op-ed points to a growing trend - the backlash against mindfulness. Typical examples, often written by researchers fed up with the mindfulness craze, include The Problem with Mindfulness and Mindfulness Would be Good for You. If it Wasn't So Selfish." 

They have a point. As I've mentioned before, there are a lot of bad studies extolling the benefits of mindfulness. And those studies often get a lot of press - because bad studies can make big claims, and big claims make great click bait. 

So it's no surprise that the anti-mindfulness wave is growing. 

Still, the most disturbing feature of the op-ed is that the authors misrepresent their own results. In the study - which has major problems of its own - they found that state mindfulness decreases motivation on mundane tasks, but does not interfere with work performance. 

In fact, the title of the published study is, "Mindfulness Meditation Impairs Task Motivation but Not Performance."

In other words, the folks they ran through their poorly designed research protocol (shabby intervention; no control group; weak measures; questionable sample) actually saw decreases in stress and their performance at work remained stable. 

Isn't that kind of a good thing? Lower stress. Stable performance. 

Work, after all, is not just a series of tasks. Work is a complex web of relationships. So if you can do the same stuff you've always done, just as well, but with lower stress, it's probably going to have some pretty sweet collateral impacts. But no one seemed to mention that to the NYT, which needs those advertising dollars . . .

Oh, shit. What am I doing? I'm critiquing the study. I'm doing exactly what I said I wasn't going to do right at the top of this page.

Clearly I'm in some kind of recovery process. Still a mindfulness partisan. For now. But just wait, I'm ready to write about something else. Like, really soon . . .

Until then,

Craig Hase