A brief reflection on mindfulness, organizations, and diverse traditions: A personal note
One of the current trends in the culture of organizations and the work setting is the increase of interest for spirituality, meditation, and mindfulness. Part of the literature is rooted in the self-help section of bookstores and libraries.
My interest in mindfulness in particular is related to my past, and this is the personal note I want to share here, both in terms of education, student life, work, migrations and cross-cultural settings. I was educated in a traditional Catholic culture in Belgium in which the spiritual dimension was very important, very much in the line of Hermann Hesse (see his book My belief) and his family, whose life was rooted in a spiritual life and journey based on practice and personal reflection. Poetry and reading were part of my daily routines in childhood and early adulthood.
My religious education was tolerant, embedded in open discussions and a reflection on spirituality, what matters in life and what is the meaning of life. I had some contact with Buddhism, yoga, and martial arts. I practiced judo for 15 years. This led me to inquiry and reading to meditation and spirituality, the word mindfulness was not that common in the 1980s and early 1990s. One of the influences I can remember is Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. I maintained interests, readings, and reflections in philosophy.
Later in life, I studied economics, sociology, and management, from BA to PhD (Economics) with not much interest in mindfulness as it is conceived in this course, except from 2014. So, during my studies and research activities I did not focused on meditation or the mind, even though I read some books on the science of consciousness. I drifted away from the spiritual and embraced much more science and intellectual reflections.
Later, and probably because of job related stress, I started to embrace mindfulness and thinking about it, without much connections to spirituality or Buddhism. This is the strand of mindfulness related to science, like cognitive therapy or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-basted Stress Reduction (MBSR).
I am now back in the connection between mindfulness and spirituality. And it is related to stress issues as much as intellectual as spiritual curiosity. I have expanded my interest to Japanese, Chinese, Indian and African philosophical traditions.