Meditation Awareness Training (MAT) for Work-related Wellbeing and Job Performance: A Randomised Controlled Trial

  • Edo ShoninEmail author
  • William Van Gordon
  • Thomas J. Dunn
  • Nirbhay N. Singh
  • Mark D. Griffiths


Due to its potential to concurrently improve work-related wellbeing (WRW) and job performance, occupational stakeholders are becoming increasingly interested in the applications of meditation. The present study conducted the first randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of meditation on outcomes relating to both WRW and job performance. Office-based middle-hierarchy managers (n = 152) received an eight-week meditation intervention (Meditation Awareness Training; MAT) or an active control intervention. MAT participants demonstrated significant and sustainable improvements (with strong effect sizes) over control-group participants in levels of work-related stress, job satisfaction, psychological distress, and employer-rated job performance. There are a number of novel implications: (i) meditation can effectuate a perceptual shift in how employees experience their work and psychological environment and may thus constitute a cost-effective WRW intervention, (ii) meditation-based (i.e., present-moment-focussed) working styles may be more effective than goal-based (i.e., future-orientated) working styles, and (iii) meditation may reduce the separation made by employees between their own interests and those of the organizations they work for.


Work-related stress Meditation Job Satisfaction Job Performance Meditation Awareness Training Mindfulness Buddhism 



The authors would like to thank Jacqui Sein for her helpful feedback on previous versions of this article as well as Hattie Wongsutthawat for her assistance with the psychometric assessments.

Conflicts of Interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


  1. American Psychological Association. (2009). Stress in America 2009. Retrieved from Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2010). American Psychiatric Association practice guideline for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder (3rd ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, T. D., & Kiburz, K. M. (2012). Trait mindfulness and work-family balance among working parents: The mediating effects of vitality and sleep quality. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 80, 372–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arias, A. J., Steinberg, K., Banga, A., & Trestman, R. L. (2006). Systematic review of the efficacy of meditation techniques as treatments for medical illness. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12, 817–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boutron, I., Altman, D. G., Schulz, K. F., & Ravaud, P. (2008). Extending the CONSORT statement to randomized trials of nonpharmacologic treatment: Explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine, 148, 295–309.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2011). Mindfulness based cognitive therapy for psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, 187, 441–453.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chiesa, A., Calati, R., & Serretti, A. (2011). Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 449–464.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cox, T., & Griffiths, A. (2010). Work-related stress: A theoretical perspective. In S. Leka & J. Houdmont (Eds.), A textbook of occupational health psychology (pp. 31–56). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Dane, E. (2011). Paying attention to mindfulness and its effects on task performance in the workplace. Journal of Management, 37, 997–1018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Edwards, J. A., Webster, S., Van Laar, D., & Easton, S. (2008). In: British Academy of Management Annual Conference, 10–12 Sep 2008. Harrogate: UK. Psychometric analysis of the UK Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards work-related stress Indicator Tool.Google Scholar
  11. Eysenck, M. W. (2004). Trait anxiety, repressors and cognitive biases. In J. Yiend (Ed.), Cognition, emotion and psychopathology: Theoretical, empirical and clinical drections (pp. 49–67). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fox, E., & Georgiou, G. A. (2005). The nature of attentional bias in human anxiety. In R. W. Engle, G. Sedek, U. von Hecker, & D. N. McIntosh (Eds.), Cognitive limitations in aging and psychopathology (pp. 249–274). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Faul, F., & Erdinger, E. (1992). GPOWER: A priori, post-hoc, and compromise power analysis for MS-DOS. Bonn: University.Google Scholar
  14. Gillespie, S. M., Mitchell, I. J., Fisher, D., & Beech, A. R. (2012). Treating disturbed emotional regulation in sexual offenders: The potential applications of mindful self-regulation and controlled breathing techniques. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17, 333–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Health and Safety Executive. n.d. HSE Management Standards Work-Related Stress Indicator Tool. London: Author.Google Scholar
  16. Health and Safety Executive. (2012). Stress and psychological disorders. Available from: (Accessed 4th August 2013).
  17. Henry, J. D., & Crawford, J. R. (2005). The short-form version of the depression anxiety stress scales (DASS-21): construct validity and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, 227–239.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ho, L. (2011). Meditation, learning, organisational innovation and performance. Industrial Management and Data Systems, 111, 113–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 169–183.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Houdmont, J., Cox, T., & Griffiths, A. (2011). Work-related stress case definitions and prevalence rates in national surveys. Occupational Medicine, 60, 658–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kanfer, R., Chen, G., & Pritchard, R. D. (2008). Work motivation: Forging new perspectives and directions in the post-millenium. In R. Kanfer, G. Chen, & R. D. Pritchard (Eds.), Work motivation: past, present and future (pp. 601–632). New York: Tailor and Francis.Google Scholar
  22. Krasner, M. S., Epstein, R. M., Beckman, H., Suchman, A. L., Chapman, B., Mooney, C. J., et al. (2009). Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. Journal of the American Medical Association, 302, 1284–1293.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lama, D. (2001). Stages of meditation: Training the mind for wisdom. London: Rider.Google Scholar
  24. Lovibond, S. H., & Lovibond, P. F. (1995). Manual for the depression anxiety stress scales. Sydney: Psychology Foundation.Google Scholar
  25. MacCoon, D. G., Imel, Z. E., Rosenkranz, M. A., Sheftel, J. G., Weng, H. Y., Sullivan, J. C., et al. (2012). The validation of an active control intervention for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, 3–12.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Malarkey, W. B., Jarjoura, D., & Klatt, M. (2013). Workplace based mindfulness practice and inflammation: A randomized trial. Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, 27, 145–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Manocha, R., Black, D., Sarris, J., & Stough, C. (2011). A randomised controlled trial of meditation for work stress, anxiety and depressed mood in full-time workers. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2011/960583.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. McConville, T., & Holden, L. (1999). The filling in the sandwich: HRM and middle managers in the health sector. Personnel Review, 28, 406–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Morrison, E. W. (1994). Role definitions and organizational citizenship behavior: The importance of the employee's perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 1543–1567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). (2009). Depression: Management of depression in primary and secondary care. London: Author.Google Scholar
  31. Nhat Hanh, T. (1999). The heart of the Buddha's teaching: Transforming suffering into peace, joy and liberation. New York: Broadway Books.Google Scholar
  32. Peter, R., & Siegrist, J. (1997). Chronic work stress, sickness absence, and hypertension in middle managers: General or specific sociological explanations? Social Science and Medicine, 45, 111–1120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rabjam, L. (2002). The practice of Dzogchen. (H. Talbot, Ed., & Tulku Thondup, Trans.) New York: Snow Lion Publications.Google Scholar
  34. Russel, S. S., Spitzmuller, C., Lin, L. F., Stanton, J. M., Smith, P. C., & Ironson, G. H. (2004). Shorter can also be better: The abridged Job in General Scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 64, 878–893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sahdra, B. K., Shaver, P. R., & Brown, K. W. (2010). A scale to measure non-attachment: A Buddhist complement to Western research on attachment and adaptive functioning. Journal of Personality Assessment, 92, 116–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. (2007). Mental health at work: Developing the business case. London: AuthorGoogle Scholar
  37. Santideva. (1997). A guide to the Bodhisattva way of life. (V. A. Wallace, & A. B. Wallace, Trans.) New York: Snow Lion Publications.Google Scholar
  38. Schulz, K. F., Altman, D. G., & Moher, D. (2010). CONSORT 2010 statement: Updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomized trials. Annals of Internal Medicine, 152, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Singh, A. N., Winton, A. S. W., Singh, J., McAleavey, K. M., et al. (2008a). A mindfulness-based health wellness program for managing morbid obesity. Clinical Case Studies, 7, 327–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Wahler, R. G., Winton, A. S., & Singh, J. (2008b). Mindfulness approaches in cognitive behavior therapy. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013a). Buddhist philosophy for the treatment of problem gambling. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 2, 63–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013b). Mindfulness-based interventions: Towards mindful clinical integration. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 194. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00194.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013c). Meditation Awareness Training (MAT) for improved psychological wellbeing: A qualitative examination of participant experiences. Journal of Religion and Health, 53, 849–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., Slade, K., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013d). Mindfulness and other Buddhist-derived interventions in correctional settings: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18, 365–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). The emerging role of Buddhism in clinical psychology: Toward effective integration. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6, 123–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Trungpa, C. (2003). The collected works of Chogyam Trungpa: Volume four. Boston: Shambala.Google Scholar
  47. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Zangeneh, M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014a). Work-related mental health and job performance: Can mindfulness help? International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 12, 129–137.Google Scholar
  48. Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Sumich, A., Sundin, E., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014b). Meditation Awareness Training (MAT) for psychological wellbeing in a sub-clinical sample of university students: A controlled pilot study. Mindfulness, 5, 381–391.Google Scholar
  49. Welbourne, T. M., Johnson, D. E., & Erez, A. (1998). The Role-Based Performance Scale: Validity analysis of a theory-based measure. Academy of Management Journal, 41, 540–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wu, T., Fox, D., Stokes, C., & Adam, C. (2012). Work-related stress and intention to quit in newly graduated nurses. Nurse Education Today, 32, 669–674.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edo Shonin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • William Van Gordon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Dunn
    • 1
  • Nirbhay N. Singh
    • 3
  • Mark D. Griffiths
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DivisionNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamshireUK
  2. 2.Awake to Wisdom, Centre for Meditation, Mindfulness, and Psychological WellbeingNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Medical College of GeorgiaGeorgia Regents UniversityAugustaUSA
  4. 4.Division of Psychology, Chaucer BuildingNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations