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Why Meditation Should Be Essential in the Workplace

09 September 2021

Mindfulness and mental health have long been associated with each other. Therapists have always recommended a mindfulness practice to their patients suffering from severe depressive episodes or chronic anxiety. 

To have better mental health, prescriptions won’t solely include antidepressants, downers, or whatnot. A complete lifestyle change, the doctor would say, includes regular exercise, the right amount of sleep, journalling, and injecting even just five minutes of the day into meditation. Small habits make a big difference. 

African american businesswoman meditating in office

What is Meditation

Many people still don’t know what meditation really is. Founder of meditation app Headspace Andy Puddicombe defines it as training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. Meditation teaches us to observe our thoughts without judgment in order to eventually have a better grasp of our minds and their thought processes in the future. 

Mindfulness or the ability to be fully present is practised in meditation. Often, anxious thoughts are caused by hang-ups from the past and worries about the future. Focusing on the here and now is a reminder to take things one step at a time and that the only thing one could control as a human being is how one feels and behaves at the present moment. 

Why Meditate

Studies have proven that meditation helps in sharpening focus and changes the way we perceive our thoughts. By practising meditation, we learn to control the intensity of our negative emotions, not allowing them to take a hold of ourselves and our life decisions. When we become mindful of everything we do at present, we become generally calm individuals with clearer and more focused minds. 

For example, Kim is expecting guests for dinner so she decided to make pasta from scratch. Instead of worrying about what the guests would say regarding her space or if they’d like the dinner, she would be serving, her regular meditation practice would have trained her to focus on the task at hand, to make sure the dough would be rolled to perfection and shredded with the right thickness and width, etc. 

Studies have also shown that regular meditation helps in reducing anxiety, maintaining normal blood pressure, easing stress hormones, increasing pain tolerance, and getting better quality sleep. 

Why Meditate in the Workplace

With eight hours, five days a week at the office, we spend most of our time working. We deal with people of different personalities, answer to a boss, mingle with our colleagues, and try our best to meet our clients’ needs. In such a high-pressure environment, work isn’t always a pleasurable experience, especially if we feel burnout or left out from our peers at work. 

Headspace lists down four benefits of using meditation: (1) less stress; (2) More focus and productivity; (3) Easier teamwork; and (4) Improved job satisfaction and engagement. 

Science has proven that meditation helps in rewiring our brains to respond better to stress. By regularly practising meditation, we become better at regulating our emotions and solving our problems as well as improving our memory and learning capability. Being more mindful and focused at present helps us be more efficient and productive at work. 

Big companies such as Google, General Mills, Intel, Aetna, and Goldman Sachs have adapted mindfulness and meditation programs for their workforce. The pandemic has highlighted even more the need to prioritize mental health. Headspace reported a more than 500% increase in interest from companies wanting to create a healthier and better workplace for their employees. 

Young women meditating in lotus pose

How to Meditate in the Workplace

1. Look for a quiet area to meditate. 

Your workstation may be the perfect area for your meditation practice because you have the corner all to yourself. Practice cancelling out the sounds around you and focus on the voice instructions of your guided meditation instead. 

It helps if your workstation is clutter-free. To ensure it’s clean, use the Mesh Desk Organizer, an Under Desk Drawer, or a Mobile File Cabinet from Flexispot. These storage units allow you to compartmentalize your desk essentials and office equipment. Cleaning your area also gives you time to be more mindful. 

2. Determine the time of day and the amount of time for meditation. 

Keeping streaks and committing to a habit takes work but if you begin now and do it every day, what started as a chore will eventually become second nature to you. It really doesn’t matter how long you’ll meditate for a day but it helps in making a habit out of something important. Decide how long you want to meditate in a day, setting a time limit that won’t become so daunting for you; it’ll make you quit the next day. 

3. Close apps and turn off notifications. 

Eliminate all distractions including e-mails and messages from your boss and teammates. After all, you’ll just be meditating for 15 minutes or less. Deal with them after your meditation practice. Your goal is to be able to focus on your breath for the next 15 minutes. 

Sit2Go 2in1 Fitness Chair

4. Sit comfortably. 

Your body must be in a relaxed position, feet to the ground, hands on the lap, back upright. The ergonomic chair options of Flexispot allow one to sit comfortably with padded armrests and cushioned seats. The neck and back are also supported. 

You may also sit down on the floor or carpet in an Indian-style seating position. Gently put your hands on each side and look at your environment with a soft-focus, not gazing at anything in particular. 

5. Close your eyes. 

 Not seeing your direct environment helps you focus on how deep and fast your breath is and how tensed or relaxed your body feels. 

6. Scan your body from the top of your head to the tip of your feet.

Do it multiple times until you can do it slowly. If you lose focus, just return to the body part where you paused and scan again. 

7. Focus on your breath; count from 1-10.

Count the rising and falling of your breath---inhale, exhale. If you lose count or focus, start from the top. Touch your belly if it helps and feel your body contract and expand. 

8. Do it regularly. 

Sometimes showing up is the hardest and bravest thing to do. Meditation sounds overwhelming especially for the depressed but it’s not supposed to be practised perfectly. It’s an exercise for the mind, training for the muscle that has to be done on a regular basis in order to eventually reap the benefits. So if the only thing you were able to do today is to show up, tap yourself on the shoulder because you have already done the first step!