Meditation at Work
No matter what kind of job you have, work places many demands on the body, mind, and spirit. You may sit at a desk all day, fielding multiple streams of information from emails, phone calls, texts, and other digital and human sources. Your work environment may be cramped and windowless, or you may be coping with emotional toxins emanating from a manager or co-worker. Perhaps you’re on your feet for hours at a time or you work with clients who are short-tempered and hard to please.
Whether you work from home or in a corporate high rise, meditation is something you can do for yourself to protect your mind-body balance, find calm amidst chaos, and tap into your own highest potential.
The Chopra Center teaches a mantra-based meditation practice known as Primordial Sound Meditation, which is a systematic process that is easy to learn and produces repeatable results. If you can breathe, you can learn to meditate.
Here are a few of the ways meditation can help you experience more fulfillment and happiness at work:
Meditation reduces stress and burnout.
When you meditate with regularity, instead of feeling at the mercy of your emotions and knee-jerk reactions, you’re able to respond to life’s challenges from a more balance, centered perspective. In meditation, your body releases stress and reverses the effects of the flight-or-fight response – that ancient instinct we all have to either run from perceived danger or take it on in battle.
Intended as a short-term protection mechanism, fight or flight causes our body to speed up our heart rate, increase our blood sugar, suppress our immune system, reduce insulin production, pump out stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and reduce the blood supply to our digestive organs. All of these reactions happen so that our body can either run away as fast as it can – or stay to fight. Although few people reading this face daily threats to their bodily existence, many live in a prolonged state of fight or flight, generating stress in response to bad traffic, a funny look from the boss, or a disagreement. Regular meditation dissipates the chronic stress that contributes to stomach ulcers, heart disease, cancer, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and accelerated aging.
There are many compelling studies showing the power of meditation to relieve stress and promote inner calm. For example, an Australian study of full-time workers found that those who spent a few hours each week practicing mindfulness meditation reported a significant decrease in job stress, anxiety, and depressed mood. Read the study here.
Meditation helps you create more harmonious relationships.
When you’re feeling balanced and centered, it is much easier to respond rather than react, to be present with a client or co-worker and really listen to what they are saying and what they may need. With regular meditation, you develop what is known as “the silent observer” – that wise part of yourself that is able to calmly and objectively observe a situation, notice when you are being triggered, and consciously choose how you want to respond. The ability to be present and aware is infinitely valuable in the workplace and every other area of your life as well.
Meditation promotes relaxation and restful sleep.
Many of us live in a state of chronic state deprivation, which makes it difficult for us to be our most balanced, creative, inspired selves at work. In fact, lack of sleep and insomnia can make it difficult for us simply to stay awake on the job. A regular meditation practice is extremely restful for the body and mind. In meditation, the brain starts producing more alpha waves, which are associated with deep relaxation. Meditation restores our body’s inner balance or homeostasis, which is the optimal state for healing and self-repair.
Meditation enhances your brain’s ability to learn and regulate stress.
Whether you’re seeking a career change or want to become an expert in your field, meditation will help you tap into your brain’s unimaginable powers to learn and adapt . . . to accomplish with more effortless ease.
While scientists used to believe that beyond a certain age, the brain couldn’t change or grow, we now know that brain has a quality known as plasticity, enabling it to grow new neurons and transform throughout our lives. Meditation is a powerful tool for awakening new neural connections and even transforming regions of the brain.
For instance, a groundbreaking study led by Massachusetts General Hospital found that participants who meditated for just eight weeks (an average of 27 minutes each day) experienced significant changes in their brain structure, including increased density in regions associated with memory, learning, self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. , MR images of participants' brains also showed decreased density in the amygdala, which correlates with a reduction in stress and anxiety.
Meditation enhances creativity.
We have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day – and many of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday, last week, and last year. The mind tends to get stuck in repetitive thought loops that squeeze out the possibility for new ideas and inspiration. Meditation is a powerful practice for going beyond habitual, conditioned thought patterns into a state of expanded awareness. This is the birthplace of all creativity. The mind is in an open, receptive state and is able to receive flashes of insight and fresh perspectives.
Meditation leads to more efficient meetings.
A recent study by the Kyoto Convention Bureau found that when people meditated for at least 10 minutes before a meeting, they were much better at focusing, listening, retaining information, and completing tasks. The next time you’re leading or attending a meeting, you may want to suggest just a few minutes of meditation for everyone to get centered and present. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just have people close their eyes and focus on their breath for a minute or two.
Meditation improves health and wellbeing.
When we’re feeling healthy and energetic, it is much easier to stay focused and meet the daily demands of work. Meditation is now recognized as a healing tool with numerous benefits for the mind-body system. In the state of restful awareness created by meditation:
- Your blood pressure normalizes
- Your heart rate slows
- Your immune function improves
- You use oxygen more efficiently
- You produce fewer stress hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol
- You make more sex hormones particularly DHEA
- Your pituitary gland release more growth hormone (an anti-aging chemical)
Contrary to the common misconception, meditation doesn’t mean that you have to clear all thoughts from your mind. It’s simply about being in the present and focusing on whatever your object of attention is. In Primordial Sound Meditation, you focus on a mantra, which is a vibration or sound without meaning. Mantra is a Sanskrit word that means “vehicle of the mind,” and it takes your mind to a place of peaceful, restful awareness.
Primordial Sound Meditation is taught at every Chopra Center event, including our Seduction of Spirit meditation and yoga retreat. You can also go to choprateachers.com to find a certified teacher near you.