Mindfulness has taken the corporate world by storm. Guided mindfulness retreats, office yoga classes, and company funded meditation programs are all on the rise, demonstrating executives' willingness to invest in mindfulness at work.
Mindfulness is not exclusive to the workplace. It has begun to be a household word as more and more people recognize the benefits of being present with self and taking time to reflect on the day. Mindfulness also has the potential to unlock personal achievement and follow through on goals.
Academic research on the benefits of mindfulness is still in short supply since the movement is new, but there are studies that show the long-term impact stress has on the brain, and more specifically the hippocampus. One of meditation's many benefits is the alleviation of stress, making it an obvious solution to stress's negative outcomes.
As 2017 begins, more and more people will be setting new year's resolutions and companies will be setting budgets for new programs. Everyone should be closely watching how mindfulness grows in the start of 2017 and consider how they can use it to improve their lives.
Many people who are new to mindfulness are often hesitant to jump in due to misconceptions about the practice. Mindfulness expert David Gelles shares in his book, Mindful Work, "Meditation doesn't require us to wear robes, chant in a foreign language, or sit with our legs folded. Instead, mindfulness meditation simply asks that we take a comfortable position--sitting, lying down, or even standing--and observe our thoughts, emotions, and sensations."
The following are some of the top meaningful developments in mindfulness that everyone should follow in 2017.
Mindfulness for Fitness
Proponents of mindfulness regularly claim that it helps people achieve goals that have otherwise been difficult to carry out. What more challenging goal is there than personal fitness? Plagued with an overwhelming amount of messages about diets, fitness programs, and CrossFit classes - most people never get started, and those that do often struggle to achieve the level of transformation they desire.
Mindfulness may be the answer, as one fitness startup has found. Patrick Reynolds is the CEO and founder of Kenzai, an online fitness platform. He explains that mindfulness helps Kenzai members achieve much higher success rates. "It's about bringing mindful choices to your fitness, making small daily tasks that add up to an amazing result." Kenzai derives many of its core principles from Japanese culture. The word when translated means "sustained wellness", a result Reynolds thinks more people can achieve.
Platforms like Kenzai are changing the definition of a fitness program by infusing mindfulness and long-term habits to help participants achieve better and longer lasting success. It's also an extension of a larger trend of toward fitness from home. Many consumers are opting for programs they can complete from the comfort of their own home and without complicated equipment. For those looking to make a change in their health in 2017, it may be worth considering a more mindful fitness program, as they have the potential to make you one of the 8% of people who actually achieve their resolution goals.
You can find conversations about mindfulness almost everywhere these days. That's good for consumers because it means there are a growing number of products and services at a low cost. Headspace was one of the early leaders in that space, providing guided meditations through a freemium pricing model. Founder Andy Puddicombe is a Ted talker known for his talks on simple meditation practices and is the voice behind each Headspace session.
Other apps are helping upgrade people's emotional health and intelligence by providing services similar to therapy or based on therapeutic principles. Moodnotes is an app based on the science behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and encourages users to check in regularly to note any strong emotions that may need unpacking during the day. There are also a growing number of apps that provide basic therapy services for those who otherwise wouldn't have access to or be able to afford traditional care. Apps like Talkspace connect users with real trained professionals that can be a listening ear when on the go.
Dilution and Detractors
The other big trend to watch in 2017 will be the potential threats to the mindfulness movement. With every great new development come those who want to capitalize on its potential without generating real value for the consumer. Gelles explains, "By slapping the word mindfulness on new products and services simply to make them fashionable, these corporations are making the word itself somewhat impotent." As a result, people will need to become more discerning about the quality of different mindfulness products as the market floods with new apps, programs, and brands that tout mindful solutions.
Recent rumblings in the corporate world are also worth noting, as there has been a small backlash against mindfulness by some well-meaning commentators. A 2016 report from The Guardian details several cases in which meditation resulted in negative outcomes, including panic and anxiety, for some participants. Anytime someone embarks on any kind of self-exploration it's important to remember that may include confronting challenging emotions. To prevent any negative outcomes, people should consider why they want to try mindful practices and make sure to talk to friends and professionals anytime they encounter challenges in the process. As the new year begins, consider how mindful practices could have an impact on your life.