Mindfulness training improves learning study

New research shows that mindfulness training can bring remarkable benefits to employees, including making them more effective workplace learners.

This point was recently made by Dr Sara Lazar, who is one of the world’s most eminent researchers of the emerging discipline.

Speaking at a conference in London, Lazar – who is the assistant professor at Harvard Medical School – said mindfulness could increase both sustained and selected attention, as well as neural efficiency.

Lazar pointed to Harvard studies which suggest mindfulness has an even more profound effect on the brain than its proponents had ever imagined.

One such impact includes how mindfulness affects brain matter.

According to Lazar, 50-year-olds who meditate have similar performance in their frontal cortex to 25-year-olds.

After just two months of a mindfulness-based stress reduction programme, participants experienced less mind wandering.

They also recorded greater activity in the cerebellum – which is linked to sensory performance – and the left hippocampus, which assists in emotion regulation and learning, which has particularly intriguing implications for L&D professionals looking to help employees increase their capacity for learning.

Steve Hoskins, managing director of Stop At Nothing (SAN) Australia, said that his company has seen teams – as well as entire organisations – thrive when mindfulness is put into practice.

“We have a saying at Stop At Nothing: ‘The person with the most awareness has the most responsibility in any relationship’,” Hoskins told L&D Professional.

“This is to say that, when you know who you are, are in control of your emotional well-being, live life free of drama and ego, you have the power to avoid being triggered by others’ opposing states, and hence live with less stress and more productivity in life and work.”

Hoskins said SAN has seen organisations transform from “dysfunctional under-performing entities” into highly productive, happy and profitable companies.

“If you imagine an entire organisation whose people are self-aware and working together, everyone would be looking to ensure their workmates are looked after, that their emotional states matter and looking to help wherever possible,” he said.

“This collective direction away from self towards others removes the drama and ego that inhibits optimal business performance in workplaces. Employees are naturally happier, motivated to do great work, provide excellent levels of service and delivery of results, so everyone wins. It’s amazing to observe,” he said.