Why You Should Care About Mindfulness Meditation in Your Next Workplace
All of the stress throughout your day – work deadlines, family responsibilities, bills to pay, unexpected emergencies, and even world events – take a toll on your mood and mental health over time. In small amounts, the extra pressure is manageable, but when tension accumulates like debris in a storm drain, you’ll be flooded with negative emotions unless you take the time to remove the root cause of the problem.
When’s the right time to destress? Honestly, as soon as possible. People often suspend their self-care until they’ve left the office, allowing pressure to pile up for a third of their weekdays. Treating work hours as lost time for your mental wellbeing creates a debt that’s much harder to settle. That’s why there’s growing interest among emotionally intelligent leaders to practice mindfulness meditation in the workplace.
Meditation has the potential to help defuse individual stress while creating an environment with higher morale and engagement. In fact, it’s becoming a big part of the tips for stress management we provide to our employees. Using our first-hand experience, here are some benefits of meditation in the workplace and some tips for how to actually put this discipline into practice.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
The journey of meditation from an exclusively spiritual practice to a wellness practice has been gradual. For hundreds, if not thousands of years, cultures all over the world have employed meditation as a way to transcend the thoughts and concerns of their daily lives:
- In Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, self-searching meditation is described as “to realize one’s true nature […] insistence on self-discipline and simplicity of living.”
- In the Bhagavad Gita, the goal of meditation is to “make your mind one-pointed […] united with the Self within” as a way of attaining nirvana, the state of abiding joy and peace in Krishna.
- In Kabbalah, the goal of meditation is “moving beyond thought to the experience of God.”
Despite their difference in tradition, these and other meditative religions emphasize overcoming unrelenting thoughts and distractions to ground themselves in the here and now, adopting a spiritual mindfulness. Long-time practitioners will tell you the benefits, but it’s only recently that science has caught up to this practice.
In the 1970s, Jon Kabat-Zinn and certain Eastern-influenced psychiatrists began promoting the idea of mindfulness meditation as a way of dealing with physical pain and stress. As Kabat-Zinn put it, the goal was to apprehend “the constantly changing nature of sensations, even highly unpleasant ones, and thus their impermanence.”
More than just understanding pain, researchers began to realize that there were measurable physical and psychological benefits to mindfulness meditation:
- Improved memory – A study of people with memory loss problems had a marked increase in memory and cerebral blood flow after a rudimentary eight-week meditation program.
- Reduce anxiety and depression – More than 209 studies have been conducted to determine the connection between mindfulness-based therapy and improvements in anxiety, depression, and stress. The comprehensive study of these outcomes suggested it’s an effective treatment of all three.
Tips for Mindfulness Meditation
Though there are clear benefits to mindfulness and meditation, it’s still difficult for most people to imagine doing so at their jobs. You’re either in a busy office with lots of distractions or you’re virtual, whether at home or elsewhere, in a space that might be full of distractions. The trick with mindfulness meditation is that you can do it no matter where you are – if you follow these steps:
- Step one: find a comfortable space – Often, people imagine that their meditation space needs to be quiet for them to sense and feel themselves in the moment. Long-time practitioners of meditation will tell you that silence is not mandatory for effective meditation.In actuality, it’s better to be comfortable so you can allow your body relax and clear your mind without thinking about discomfort from wherever you are trying to meditate. If you need to block out the outside world, headphones and a white noise track can help.
- Step two: take long deep breaths – Next, close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly for at least three full seconds. Exhale slowly for at least four full seconds. Concentrate on the rise and fall of your chest. Try to embrace your natural rhythms rather than forcing deep breaths.
- Step three: work to center your thoughts – One of the greatest challenges for people is to rein in their thinking. In the digital world, we are trained to give in to distraction, so this will take practice.Even when your thoughts wander (which they will), be sure to gently nudge your attention back to your breathing. David Nichtern, a teacher of Buddhist meditation, recommends just labeling thoughts as “thinking” before redirecting your attention. Bottom line is to have patience with yourself – you’ll feel the benefits over time.
- Step four: make a habit – There are plenty of people who expect to have a transcendent experience on their first go. That’s unreasonable. Instead, you’re better served thinking of mindfulness meditation as a routine that can help you to remove yourself from your stressful thoughts and recenter your mind. In time, your work will pay off.
If you are looking for some instructions, David Nichtern’s video can provide easy-to-follow steps that can help you get in the habit of practicing mindfulness meditation – in the moment, when you need it most.
Do you work for the Evolutyz team? Reach out to our HR Manager, Florence for insight on mindful meditation in the workplace.
Are you looking for job opportunities that boost your work-life balance? Take a look at our latest job openings to find the right fit for you.
Should I Accept a Counter Offer? Here Are 3 Consequences If You Do
What Recruiters Expect From Job Seekers
Showcase Your Personality in Group Discussion (GD)