The Dangers of Mindfulness

By Kennedy Jones, PHD

(HALIFAX, NS) – I see my colleague Robert Stephen writing about his experiences with mindfulness. I see his enthusiasm and bravo that it has had many beneficial effects for him. As I understand his articles to date, mindfulness has the effect of reducing stress and is used as a therapy for treating depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Considering the claims for workplace stress related illnesses that have skyrocketed in the past few years, one should ask the question, “Who is paying for these claims?”

It’s either an insurance company through a policy between the insurance company and the company, or it is “self funded,” meaning that the employer picks up the cost and the insurance company acts as an administrator of the plan.

As the goal of a company, including an insurance firm, is to make a profit. Claims for workplace stress ultimately are a drain on profits; an expense that must be managed.

And how are stress claims to be managed in today’s modern corporation, which is outsourcing to foreign jurisdictions and downsizing its workforce at a ruthless rate? As stress is not always easily identifiable and provable, it’s easy to brand the claimant a slacker and cheater, and deny the claim.

I am sure these slackers are really proud of their mental illness and want their co-workers and circle of friends to know they are mentally disabled.

No. The more humane Mega Corp wants to be seen as caring and responsive while it ruthlessly outsources and downsizes, placing immense pressure and fear amongst the survivors. So, in addition to the employee assistance programs it offers with capped value visits to psychologists and psychotherapists, why not offer a mindfulness program as, after all, it reduces stress.

Stress reduction leads to reduced stress related workplace claims. What an idea.

Just imagine, with stress reduction how much more Mega Corp can heap on its employees. And they won’t be stressed and can handle the work left behind by their downsized employees.

Up go the profits and down go the disability claims.

This has Mega Corp’s human resources and finance department salivating.

Mr Stephen’s articles to date on the topic of mindfulness have inspired me to enroll in a privately offered program and, perhaps, if your employer is not offering one, you too should enroll.

Now, if your Mega Corp is offering you a mindfulness program, you have nothing to lose, you may say. However, there is a Catch 22.

If you don’t take it, it is evidence against you in any stress related claim you might want to advance.

Take the course, and you’ll be able to handle more stress in the workplace.

Does Mega Corp have your wellness in mind, or is this just a technique designed to heap more work your way as you know how to better handle stress?

My view is that Mega Corp cares very little for you, and corporate-controlled and -designed mindfulness training could be seen as an exploitative and shallow tool in the hands of profit and greed.

Google has been offering mindfulness courses since 2007, General Mills since 2006, Intel in 2012, and Target since 2010.

A significant moral question to be asked here, without any input from HR departments is, “Whose side is mindfulness on anyway? Mega Corp or employee?”

Perhaps both benefit, particularly if the employee is mindful enough to realize mindfulness was never designed to exploit and increase the productivity of the employee facing chronic job cuts and under stressful work conditions.

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