Mindful music – A pilot study of the effects of mindfulness-based music on staff members of the University of Limerick
Keywords:mindfulness, well-being, music and mindfulness, staff
Aim: This action research project investigates the perceived benefits of Mindful Music staff wellbeing programme on university staff members.
Method: Mindful Music is an original programme of mindfulness-based music therapy (MBMT), designed by author 5, including guided live and recorded music listening combined with simple mindfulness practices (awareness of the breath /body scan/guided visualization). Staff were invited to participate in 30 - 45-minute Mindful Music sessions at lunchtime during working hours. Six in-person sessions were held at the university between March and December 2020 with 54 employees engaging in the programme. Qualitative feedback was analyzed using thematic analysis. A programme of four pre-recorded online sessions was conducted between September 2020 and January 2021 with 9 participants. A previously tested online anonymous survey relating to the perceived benefits of Mindful Music on workplace well-being and stress management was circulated following these sessions. Participants were asked to answer four quantitative questions with one qualitative question to enable participants to share comments on how they believe the sessions could be improved and to elaborate on perceived benefits.
Results: Statistical analysis revealed a positive response to the sessions. 63 staff participated in the programme. The three most common feeling states chosen by participants prior to the session were tired (12.50%), busy (9.87%) and hopeful (8.88%). The three most common feeling states recorded after the intervention were relaxed (24.03%), hopeful (11.69%) and positive (11.69%). Participant feedback was generally positive, with many requesting more sessions, while few noted minor technical issues with sound quality and a desire for shorter interventions. Live music and live facilitated sessions (online or in person) were preferred to recorded sessions to be listened to at one’s own convenience. Limitations included lack of demographic data to enable further analysis based on staff grade and role, educational status, and other variables. The relatively small sample size also limits usefulness of findings as well as lack of comparison of music-based initiatives with other staff workplace well-being activities and in other work contexts.
Discussion: Research on music-based workplace wellbeing initiatives is scarce. This study indicates that mindfulness-based music activities may support staff in improving workplace wellbeing and gives some evidence to support Mindful Music as a means of improving wellbeing and stress management for university staff. Future research should include larger sample sizes and a variety of workplace settings and compare music-based activity with other workplace wellbeing initiatives as well as further exploration of the impact of online vs in person well-being sessions for staff.