Dubbed the ‘Now’ Age, alternative lifestyles, through greater awareness, new platforms, apps, stores, and brands have gained momentum leading to a rise in agnostic spirituality in the mainstream. Mindfulness is an example of an alternative philosophy being increasingly practiced in the West, having been adapted from Ancient Eastern Traditions. As with many lifestyle paths, there is an individual element and a collective element. Individuals practice Mindfulness as a part of their daily lives, but some companies are also practicing Mindfulness by encouraging it on an individual level. Research suggests that practicing Mindfulness is beneficial to the practitioner, so are the companies feeling the same benefits as the individual?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness, the ancient Buddhist meditation practice, has become a hot topic in Psychology recently. This 2,500 year old practice can be briefly defined as a focus on the present; individuals have a tendency to ruminate about the past and/or rush towards the ‘ungraspable’ future which never materialises. Not being fully present can lessen ability to consciously participate in the present moment and distort perceptions of reality.

Practitioners notice the physical sensations in their body during meditation and the swirling thoughts in their brain. Using non-judgmental awareness of the present, the aim is to observe these sensations without reacting to them. Meditators gradually recognise the fleeting nature of sensations, including pain, anger and frustration. Over time, practitioners learn to quiet the mind and can result in individuals who are less agitated, more focused and easier to work with.

Who Practices Mindfulness?

Aside from the discussions in Psychology circles, Mindfulness has become a buzzword and it is expanding out into the Business world of Industrial Psychology. Large companies, such as General Mills in the USA, have adopted mindfulness practices, and openly encourages employees to practice it by equipping their buildings with meditation rooms, as well as yoga facilities, all designed to reduce stress, and train the mind to be more focussed, clear, creative, and connected. Google offers a course to its employees called “search inside yourself” which was so popular the company created entry-level versions such as “neural self-hacking” and “managing your energy”.

Mindfulness is a growing movement, even being practiced in some schools through the ‘Mindfulness in Schools Project’, which is managed in collaboration between psychologists at Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter and Bangor universities.The benefits of practicing mindfulness seem to be clear, and many large and successful businesses are adopting the practice.

Does all this mindfulness do any good?

There is evidence that suggests that some of its techniques can provide psychological and physiological benefits. Practicing mindfulness can improve self-regulatory efficacy via “neuro-plastic changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, temporo-parietal junction, fronto-limbic network, and default mode network structures” (Shonin et al. 2015). To put it simply, mindfulness can cause neuro-plastic changes in neural pathways, which is generally (but tentatively as much of the research is dependent on self-report measures rather than clinical diagnostic interviews) agreed by psychologists to be a good thing as it can cause:

Greater self-awareness and emotional self-regulatory capacity

Modification of immune pathways

Greater levels of relaxation

Greater control over stress

Increased compassion

Better moods

Growth in spiritual awareness

Cynics might argue that a walk in the countryside has similar benefits. But it’s not unreasonable to suppose that, in a world of constant stress and distraction, sitting still and relaxing might do some good.

As Schumpeter of the Economist observes, “the biggest problem with mindfulness is that it is becoming part of the self-help movement—and hence part of the disease that it is supposed to cure. Gurus talk about “the competitive advantage of meditation”. Pupils come to see it as a way to get ahead in life. Western capitalism seems to be doing rather more to change eastern religion than eastern religion is doing to change Western capitalism.”

But if it does help relax and focus the mind, and therefore improve the performance of individuals and corporations, then is that such a bad thing?

The QRi Team x


Shonin, E. et al. (2015) Mindfulness in psychology – a breath of fresh air? The Psychologist 28 (1): 28-31

The Mind Business, The Financial Times Magazine

JWT: The Future 100

The mindfulness business: Western capitalism is looking for inspiration in eastern mysticism, The Economist


Consumer Trends: Towards a Healthy Lifestyle

As healthier lifestyles are becoming trendy, especially for Millennials, consumer trends against consumption of sugary foods, alcohol, and fatty foods are emerging. According to Channel 4, one in four British people aged 16-30 say they do not drink alcohol, compared with one in seven older people (60 and over). To facilitate this, new alcohol-free bars and yoga raves have been popping up in London and around the country. For example, Redemption, an alcohol-free bar whose slogan is ‘spoil yourself without spoiling yourself’, are expanding, now with three branches offering not just mocktails, but also ultra-healthy gastronomy, attracting people from many different dietary backgrounds[1].

There has also been a rise in special ultra-healthy diets, such as veganism, vegetarianism, and the paleo-diet, as well as an uptake in activities such as yoga, meditation, jogging, cycling, and niche activities like Zumba and Bikram yoga. These changes towards a cleaner lifestyle are reflected in the marketing strategies of products. Clear, simple labels, with few words and ingredients are more popular as they are seen as more transparent and trustworthy. Products linked to healthy activities, such as running or yoga, or simply being outside and active are also popular.

Millennials make up one third of the global population. Their tech-savvy and need to connect with people and products means that they have to be engaged through technology as they are less brand loyal than previous generations [2]. Millennials are more entrepreneurial and ambitious than previous generations, with many of them expecting to own their own company, and wanting to have a positive impact on the world (see our previous blog Generation Z: #TheNewGeneration). It is important to engage with these instincts by being high-energy, connected, self-conscious and world-conscious, healthy and smart.

The QRi Team x

JWT: The Future 100

Robinson, N. (2014) Top five food and beverage trends for 2015. [online:]