Does your life at work look like this?
Somewhere in Silicon Valley, a group of computer programmers sit silently in a room together, legs crossed and eyes half-closed, listening to the sound of their own breath.
Elsewhere, the owner of a small real estate company starts her day by breathing deeply and engaging in yoga poses.
Still, elsewhere, a data entry specialist finishes his turkey sandwich and returns to his cubicle, puts on his headphones, and breathes deeply while listening to the sounds of bells and waterfalls.
Meditation looks different for different people, but one thing is for sure: it has quickly gained popularity in Western culture, especially in businesses.
Meditation has many professional and personal benefits including increased productivity, reduction of stress and depression, and reduction of troubling physical symptoms such as headaches and muscle tension, to name a few.
The word “meditation” often elicits images of devout men sitting silently in mystical temples far away. It can seem foreign and certainly something too far removed from daily life to have a practical application for business or even for personal gain. Meditating at work is far removed from that vision.
You may have preconceived notions about what meditation entails or related cultural or spiritual beliefs which you feel may hinder you from participating in meditation.
While meditation does have its roots in several spiritual practices, it is increasingly being recommended by Western medical professionals to treat a number of ailments, from stress, anxiety to weight control, as research is bringing to light the multiple health benefits of regularly engaging in this form of focused relaxation.
The Power of Meditation
Regardless if you choose to meditate for spiritual reasons or for physical and mental health, meditation generally consists of the following elements:
- A relaxing environment: whether it is in the woods, by the lake, in a studio, or in your living room, mediation usually occurs in an environment that is physically comfortable and free from noisy distractions. Some people choose to sit on a cushion and focus on their breathing in complete silence while others may choose to lay on their beds and listen to relaxing music.
- Posture or movement: during mediation, you will sit in a specific posture, such as with the legs crossed, spine straight, and hands resting on the knees. Sometimes participants you will lay down or engage in specific movements, such as with yoga or t’ai chi.
- Focus: while meditating, the participant will focus on a number of things from their breath, the feeling of energy moving through the body, an object, a value or ideal, or a word or phrase called a mantra.
- An open mind: during meditation allow your mind to let your thoughts flow through your mind without judging them. Often times, you will observe the thoughts instead of suppress them and then gently bring their focus back to your intended subject.
Amazon, Nike, Google, Goldman Sachs, General Mills, and Apple are some Fortune 500 corporations who incorporates the culture of mindfulness in the workplace.