Mindfulness in the Workplace: Five Ways Meditation Can Transform Your Output

Jane MarquardtThe modern workplace is a dynamic and engaging environment. Frequently, this is an exciting reality. Working, often as an integral part of a team effort, to create some sort of impact, regardless of your industry, can be incredibly rewarding. However, the demands of the office do very often oscillate dramatically in intensity. Sometimes, the very uncertainty that can fuel ambition and drive also weighs heavy on the shoulders of committed team members. Even in the most positive of work environments, many people regularly confront a variety of stresses related to maintaining gainful employment.

The science behind the effect of increased levels of stress is widely known and uncontested in the academic community. Mental health has a very real impact on the body. Studies have linked stress to ailments like insomnia, anxiety, cardiovascular illness, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, inflammation of the body, and more. This feedback effect, wherein your stress creates physical deterioration and your inability to function at your best at work likely makes you even more stressed, has an undeniable impact on things like worker happiness and productivity. The mental and physical demands of modern work culture are only becoming more pronounced, thanks to the increasingly global and complex nature of our society. Deepak Chopra has gone so far as to call stress the number 1 epidemic of our time. Informally, many doctors confidently refer to stress as the number 1 proxy killer in America.
Fortunately, there are effective and easy methods of defense that anyone can adopt to relieve stress. One of, if not the, most impactful practices someone ready to optimize peak productivity performance should adopt is meditation. Something as simple as fifteen minutes of meditation in the office daily can absolutely transform your mental cognition and overall sense of satisfaction. A study from the University of Washington is one of the most recent scientific analyses to confirm this well-established understanding of the benefits of meditation. The team from the University of Washington set out to determine the effects of meditation training on the ability of workers to multi-task, a required skill in every office this day in age. They found that not only did those rained in meditation stay on task longer, but they reported more positive emotion after the completion of each one. Additionally, they showed improved memory for the tasks performed. Harvard published a similar study in which MRI scans revealed meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s gray matter in weeks. Industry leaders like Google, Apple, Intel, and Aetna have all embraced bringing meditation into the workplace.

The ways in which this increased mental function can directly impact your output at work are many.

Making the Right Decision

It is commonly suggested that when you are facing an important choice, one of the best things you can do is to “sleep on it.” The general logic behind that recommendation is that a clear mind allows you to better weigh all your options with a clearer and more accurate perspective. The same thinking speaks to why meditating can vastly improve they way in which you make strategic decisions at work. Big or small, decisions which impact the health of your company should be made with clarity and meditating can absolutely reduce the risk of missing a critical piece of information or misconstruing a complicated but potentially critical detail. Making choice based solely on emotion can lead to regretful outcomes, especially if those emotions are driven by stress. You need to elevate your consciousness above damaging stress which may cloud your judgement to the detriment of your organization.

Emotional Intelligence

Meditating creates an opportunity for you to clear your mind, step back, and return to more accurately interpret not just your emotions, but the motivation behind them. It also increases your sensitivity to the energy of others. Because you are able to more closely analyze things like body language, facial expression, and energy level, you have more information in your arsenal to guide the way in which you choose to respond to coworkers or customers. As a result, you can better connect with everyone. Emotional intelligence is highly important, as it allows you to bring out the best in your team and make the people around you feel understood, appreciated, valued, and empowered.

Leading with Conviction

The positive energy we exert on the environment around us can have a transformative effect. As a leader in the office, it is absolutely necessary to retain control of your emotions. This extends beyond the typical desire to maintain a level of professionalism. Acting as your best self at all times is needed to set the best possible example for the individuals under your command. You need to be able to lead by example. Meditation empowers you to best reflect on how to be the leader your team needs.

Listen, Learn, & Remember

By tuning in closely with your inner thoughts in the present, you are able to focus more intensely on current needs and avoid allocating unnecessary resource to worrying about the past or the future. This focused behavior becomes more automatic over time, maximizing efficiency and effectiveness and improving memory. Meditation removes mental clutter and permits you to prioritize remembering things that actually matter, from contract deliverables to a client’s favorite restaurant. Meditating regularly also encourages you to listen more attentively and not just hear, but seek to fully understand. Communication is a vital component of any productive relationship, and in the office it can dramatically increase that amount of work that gets accomplished and the quality thereof.

Find consistent time to meditate during work to create a positive, daily habit. Lunch breaks, for instance, can work perfectly. Devote at least fifteen to twenty minutes at the same time every day and soon you will find yourself looking forward to the opportunity to clear and effectively reboot your mind. You can meditate indoors or outdoors. Ideally, if indoors, you’ll be able to shut an office door and wear noise-canceling headphones to eliminate auditory intrusions. However, outdoors is often a wonderful alternative. Fresh air can go a long way to relax your mind and body. As you get better at meditating, however, you will soon find you can do it anywhere, and it becomes increasingly difficult for anything external to disrupt your pattern for self-care.
There are many different schools of meditation, including transcendental, primordial, and kriya. Beyond basic classifications, there are further variations within each style. Experiment with any style that interests you, as different ones will more seamlessly satisfy different people’s needs. The important thing is to find a school which works for you and embrace it fully, with an open mind and positive attitude.

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