If there was one small thing which you could do to make yourself or your workforce more productive, you'd do it right? This is one of the many reasons why, across the world, 21st century workers are turning to the ancient practice of meditation to help them focus and prioritise effectively.
If you thought that meditation was the sole preserve of Buddhist monks living on remote mountain tops or "sandals-with-sock-wearing" hippies then you're at least 20 years behind the times. Today, lawyers do it; fund managers do it; professors and health-workers do it. Just google "fund managers meditate" and you may be surprised at the results. Meditating lawyers even have their own Facebook page. We're dealing here with some pretty busy people who aren't going to be setting time aside unless they feel it's producing tangible benefits.
The art of meditation started moving into the mainstream back in the early 90's, when Jon Kabat-Zing, a scientist with a PhD in molecular biology, published the book Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Delta, 1991). Kabat-Zinn went on to found the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. As a result of his work, and that of other scientists from around the world, mainstream science now recognizes the significant benefits that meditation and mindfulness - the way of fully experiencing each moment that meditation helps, can provide a host of benefits.
The health and psychological benefits of mindfulness meditation are well documented (see for example Mindfulness in Medicine: Ludwig DS, Kabat-Zinn.J JAMA.2008; 300(11): 1350-1352).
But will the practice of mindfulness and meditation really make a person more productive at work? The evidence seems to suggest that it might. In a study by the university of Washington Seattle, HR workers who had an 8-week mindfulness meditation training course were found to be more focused and to have a less negative attitude towards work than a trial group who had been on an 8-week relaxation training course.
Meditation can be spiritual or secular. If you want to try the spiritual approach see this approach to how to meditate, which will let you access some free guided meditations that you or your staff can try out.
If you're looking for a secular approach, you might check out headspace for a free 10-day trial of their mindfulness meditations.
What kind of benefits in the workplace might regular meditation cause?
Just think about how much of our working day is wasted by lack of focus, stress and general negativity.
● Better focus
Regular meditation helps train the mind to focus fully on whatever is happening in the present moment. Somebody who meditates regularly might find it easier to fully engage with the task in hand and to concentrate better during meetings and presentations. A person who meditates regularly will become more able to recognise when their mind starts to wander, and to bring themselves back to the present.
● Reduced stress
Workplace stress has a huge negative impact on productivity. Wouldn't it be great if everyone in the office set a little time aside to engage in a practice which helped calm the mind and reduce the power of negative thoughts and emotions?
● Better teamwork
Regular meditation encourages feelings of empathy and acceptance. Meditators can become better team players.
● A greater ability to prioritise effectively
The increased ability to focus has the knock-on effect of helping to prioritize tasks that need to be done.
So what are you waiting for? Get meditating today, and see what benefits you start to experience in your working life as well as in your relationships, your sleep patterns and your general health and wellbeing.