Five Ways to Bring Meditation to the Workplace

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“Let me tell you what I got while meditating today…”

Regular practice of meditation has become a norm for many people – it is no longer the “strange” practice “strange” people talk about; many people meditate in the privacy of their own home.  The benefits of meditation are so well and vastly known, that there’s no need to rehash them here.

But what about meditating in the camaraderie of the company where you work?  What about using the insights and awareness to be gained from meditation for professional and organizational growth?

“Let me tell you what I got while meditating today…” was a phrase frequently heard from a CEO I know during his executive team meetings.  It’s an unusual phrase to hear at a leadership meeting, but what if this became the norm?  What if we tapped into this intelligence as organizations, not just as individuals?  

This might be a part of creating The Back Forty of an entire organization, vs the second-half-of-life transformations that only individuals now enjoy.  What if organizations as a whole could create a radical and purposeful future distinct from their past and access yet untapped potential through conscious practices such as this?

More and more companies are starting mindfulness programs.  Google, Aetna, Target, and General Mills are among the organizations encouraging employees to meditate while providing environments and programs to support mindfulness.  Even the United States Marines introduced “M-Fit” – a military initiative that teaches Marines secular meditative practice of mindfulness in order to improve emotional health and mental performance during combat.

The most important key to success for such an initiative is not just buy-in from the top, but total ownership, direction and guidance from the organization’s leadership.  Leaders can’t just say “Ok, let’s try it” without a whole-hearted dive personally into the world itself.

For an organization with the type of leadership that has the eyes to see and the ears to hear, these are 5 simple ways to bring meditation into your organization.

1. Encourage quick, individual 1-5 minute meditation breaks a few times a day.  

For those employees that have not meditated before, here is a way to start.  Sit up straight in your chair, straighten your back, put your feet flat on the ground and your hands on your lap, and relax your shoulders.   Take 10 relaxed, deep, slow breaths, and focus on the breathing.  Everyone will report feeling more refreshed, recharged, and clear after taking on this practice.

Of course, if someone has their own office, they might close the door with a little note saying “In for Meditation: Refreshed in 5 Minutes!”  If in the middle of a big, open cubicle set up, perhaps either ear plugs can block out the ambient noise or there might be a conference room designated for only meditation breaks and “No Chit Chat Allowed…Except Within Yourself”.

2. Start staff and leadership meetings with a one-minute meditation.

From years in the corporate world, we all know how much time is wasted in meetings where, instead of moving towards the organization’s vision and addressing challenges, only more stress and frustration is created.

Giving an entire group a moment to “check in” with themselves and the intent of the meeting can serve for improved focus and initial alignment.

Sounds weird?  Rethink, and trail-blaze.  My invitation is to start now – the results will speak for themselves, and it will sound less weird next year. Before you know it, it will become a common practice across the corporate world and your organization will have benefitted the most and earliest.

Implementing a regular practice of starting the meetings with a one-minute meditation will help create a sense of teamwork, collaboration and partnership, as well as increase focus and effective decision making.  The result will be shorter and more productive meetings.

Success begins with the CEO.  Be bold.

3. Designate and establish a meditation room.

It can simply be a small office in a quiet area.  There are abundant conference rooms – why not have a meditation room?

By offering a space to meditate, companies can empower employees to manage their own stress and well-being, and offer a quiet space to those employees who do not have a private office, or who would prefer to meditate someplace other than their office.

4. Offer structured guided meditation or silent meditation times at break or lunch time, for employees who would prefer to meditate as a group rather than on their own.

This can easily be accomplished with a variety of available guided meditation resources and music, utilizing the audio equipment owned by most companies

5. Offer easy curriculums to teach executives and staff to meditate.

I spoke with Darrell W. Gurney, a career and executive coach (www.CareerGuy.com) who recently worked with two executives dealing with stress and personality conflicts with other employees and clients. Highly valued employees, yet both were close to losing their jobs because of their behavior.  As part of working with them as an executive coach, Darrell taught them to meditate.  

Darrell says both executives resisted at first, but as they gradually began a practice, their transformation was abundantly evident.  Their meditation practice created an internal shift, which impacted their behavior for everyone to see.  

As a result, both employees demonstrated completely new attitudes and got back onto productive paths noticed by both co-workers and clients.  According to one of the executives, this transformative work “opened my eyes to an entirely new level of self-awareness which has enabled me to lead a more fulfilling life. From learning to take more responsibility for my actions to learning way of finding inner peace.”  The CEO said “it was like a 180-degree turn-around.”

Bringing meditation to work is easy.  Don’t complicate it.  Start anywhere from the above points 1-5.  Just pick your favorite and go from there.

Where and when will you start?

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