Meditation at work: Why and how to train the mind
Meditation at work: Those two things don’t go together, or do they? Many companies understand the importance of both and promote meditation as part of their employee wellness programs. Aetna, Google, Adobe, Target, and General Mills are just a few of the examples.
Doesn’t taking time to meditate at work cut into productivity? Actually, the opposite occurs.
“Meditation is a way to train the mind,” writes author and journalist David Gelles in an article for The New York Times. In an environment that too often lauds multi-tasking, he says, meditation allows us “to improve our focus. When we constantly flit from one task to another, the quality of our work can suffer. By practicing mindfulness — simply coming back to the present moment over and over again — we can train ourselves to become more focused.”
The practice of meditation can lower stress reactions, interrupt worry, increase engagement with our work and others, and boost our emotional intelligence, according to Cara Newlon writing for Mental Floss. Newlon points out that the reason many organizations are including mindfulness practices in benefits packages along with gym memberships is that they see the benefit of “muscle-training” of the mind. A healthy brain needs exercise as much as a healthy body.
6 ways to practice meditation at work
Meditating for just a few minutes can have a huge impact on wellness and focus. The key is to form habits of mindfulness. Choose from these simple methods to get started.
We normally don’t think about our breathing, of course. The idea here is to notice as you breathe slowly and regularly. One method athletes use to calm themselves is to inhale for four counts, hold it for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold that for four counts. Do this for a minute or two before you tackle your tasks in the morning, says Gelles, and you’ll approach them with more energy.
Notice your senses.
We live in our heads most of the time when we’re working. Tuning in to your senses will ground you in the physicality of the here and now. Stop for a minute and ask yourself what you are smelling. Listen to your surroundings. Focus your eyes on something to notice its shape, color, or movement. Touch the cool glass or feel the texture of an object in your environment.
A five-minute walk outside combines the benefits of exercise with a change of scenery where you can tune in to your senses. This will literally ground you. Fresh air is the best, but even und a city block is beneficial Plus, if the sun is out you’ll get some Vitamin D and potentially lift your mood.
Rather than mindlessly eating at your desk while scrolling through your screens or answering email, take an actual break in another location. Notice the aroma, taste, and feel of your food in your mouth. You might even contemplate its journey to get to you and experience a moment of gratitude for the ways it nourishes your wellbeing.
Choose your words.
Just as some traditional and spiritual forms of meditation employ mantras, choose a phrase to repeat to yourself to help maintain a calm spirit. The words we say to ourselves take root and eventually can become beliefs. What would you tell a friend? It might be a variation of “I’ve got this,” “I’m ready,” or even “Breathe in, breathe out.”
“Align your words with your breath so that it can be rhythmic and consistent,” says Inc. columnist Matthew Jones.
Go to the beach – figuratively speaking. There are many apps that will provide the sound of waves on the shore, water running down a stream, birds in the forest, or even a thunderstorm and rain falling. Taking yourself on a five-minute brain break to your happy place, wherever that is, can rejuvenate you. Envision the scene, and using the example of the coast, set your imagination free to smell the sea, hear the surf, feel the sand between your toes. Breathe in, breathe out. Is that a smile creeping onto your face? That’s relaxation. Now you can return to the problems and tasks at hand with a fresher mind.
Everyone benefits personally when a business encourages wellness
Many successful businesses promote meditation at work as an element of overall mindfulness, understanding that mentally healthy employees have the potential to bring positive results to the strength of the organization itself.
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