We all want to be more productive at work, especially if we can accomplish that without adding stress. Well, how about using meditation to help you increase your productivity and decrease your stress?
Meditation at work is becoming evermore popular. It is actually so mainstream that ABC news even presented a summary of recent research on their webpage. They noted that in businesses and community centers around the country, meditation is increasingly being offered as a method of stress reduction to help reduce common problems in life.
Recent studies have shown significant effects on physical and mental health for people that practice meditation, self-hypnosis and other stress management tools. Here’s a quick review of a recent study:
A randomized, pre- and post- controlled study done in 2013 was conducted involving 303 employees (187 men and 116 women, age 23–64) from six IT or media-related companies. Half of the participants were offered web-based health promotion and stress management training (the intervention) lasting for six months. All other participants constituted the control group. Different biological markers were measured to detect possible physiological changes.
Some studies show that even just 8 weeks of consistent meditation practice can have transformational results. Jeff Brantley, Ph.D, Director of the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C., shared this story in the 2014 interview:
“We had one patient, a 40-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer who was enrolled in the 8-week MBSR program. At her exit interview, she said that before the course began 5 minutes wouldn’t go by without her worrying about what would become of her and her young family and now, after the class, she can concentrate on other things for more than hour at a time, even days,” Brantley says, calling the results “a minor miracle.”
This research shows some amazing results. After 6 months, the intervention group had improved significantly on these 5 things:
- Improved ability to manage stress
- Increased quality of sleep
- More mental energy
- Greater ability to concentrate
- Feeling more supported socially
By offering wellness initiatives that include meditation in the workplace, organizations can help contribute to employees’ overall health and well-being. Dr. Brantley noted in that interview that, “Doctors refer patients to mindfulness programs for any number of diseases and disorders”, including:
- heart disease
- anxiety and panic
- job or family stress
- chronic pain
- HIV infection and AIDS
- sleep disturbances
- type A behavior
- high blood pressure
- fatigue and skin disorders
While the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says it is too soon to quantify the medical benefits of meditation, Anita Greene, spokeswoman for the Institute’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine division, concedes, saying:
“It is a therapy worthy of further scientific investigation to refute or support the health claims being made.”– Anita Greene, NIH
In fact, the NIH granted Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, $8 million during a five-year period to study the effects of meditation in African Americans with cardiovascular diseases.
As you can see, research is finding some incredible results about the positive effects of research, both on our physical and mental well-being. Overall, people find an increased awareness and appreciation of their lives, which is worth more than money can buy.
How to Meditate At Work
You have likely heard this before, but just incase let’s go over how to meditate at work. Most people think it’s complicated, but I promise it’s easier than it seems. There are essentially three steps:
STEP 1: Decide to meditate, then find the most appropriate place for you to practice. It could be in your car, in your office or cubicle, or even during a meeting if you need to take a mental break. It doesn’t have to be obvious that you’re meditating. You can close your eyes if you want or keep your eyes open if that’s better for you. Sometimes earbuds can help you tune out other noise in the office if you can’t get to a quiet place.
STEP 2: Repeated focus on a word, sound, phrase, or object. You can simply choose to focus on your breath.
STEP 3: Gently release everyday thoughts that cross your mind and continue focusing on the word, sound, phrase, or breath.
Now it’s your turn to try! Pick something you’d like to focus on. An example would be something you do regularly –say sweeping the driveway. While you sweep – focus on the sweeping motion. Just notice that for one minute. How did that go? The latest research supports what meditators have known for thousands of years, that these techniques can improve your health, your focus at work and daily tasks, and your relationships, leading to an increased awareness and appreciation in your life. I encourage you to use the tools presented here for your own growth too!