If meditating is so good for us, why are many of us not doing it? Time, access, perception and education. We don’t believe that we have 15 minutes in our day to sit down, close our eyes and breathe. Most of us don’t have a Meditation Room in our office buildings. Many are worried what others will think if we meditate. Education is two-fold. I believe that the majority of us either don’t know anything about meditation or don’t believe in its benefits. I’ll briefly address each of these.
From time to time, I’ll post inspirational stories. That’s what we all want anyway, isn’t it…to be inspired and for our employees to feel inspired? I hope this story inspires you as the experience inspired me.
I’m shoving my way through the priority line, of which I am not a member. I notice a slightly rotund woman of deep color in unappealing clothes to my left and think, “She’s not in first class, so I can push through.” The next time I notice her she is sitting two rows beyond me…in first class…where I am not. I survey her briefly. Straw visor…no sun in airport, not much on plane. Large-floral print, short-sleeved blouse…not very becoming. Shorter in stature and stout.
I am so in the now. It took four airports and 16 hours of travel, but I am present now. I have been to Norway 25 times, and this is the first time I realized why I love it here so much. In Norway, I live in the present. I savor the juice in every strawberry. I notice the cool, dry air on my face. I feel the softest, greenest grass slide between my toes. I listen to the pigeons and the magpies. I watch as the sun dips behind the mountains (unless it’s cloudy).
What if every day, every moment was like this…if we were immersed in each activity…if we moved from task to task, focusing completely on one while leaving the other behind and letting that one go as we focus totally on the next. As Eckhart Tolle says it best, it’s the Power of Now.
You do not have to meditate in a Meditation Room. The idea is to simply quiet the mind from the non-stop raucous that we are inundated with. While we commonly consider air, water and noise pollution to be the most obvious and insidious types of pollution, how we pollute our minds may be more pervasive and possibly more severe.
What are you thinking about in any given moment? The balance sheet, the deadline, the afternoon meeting, the kids’ soccer game, the leaky faucet, the massive hole in the yard from the dog. It is non-stop in the brain. We go and go and go. Sometimes, we just need quiet. How do we get it?
If the idea is to get away from the incessant stimuli of the workplace, then sound-proofing is key.
Next is privacy…who wants to close their eyes and relax in front of 300 people whizzing around. So walls, window coverings if necessary and doors are important.
Comfortable seating with chairs facing the front of the room with door in rear is ideal to minimize distraction from newcomers to the room.
“According to the World Health Organization, the cost of stress to American businesses is as high as $300 billion,” Arianna Huffington notes. Staggering. What are we doing to our workforce? Or what are we not doing for them?
First, we have to acknowledge where these $300 billion are going. Health care costs to businesses skyrocket when employees don’t feel good. There are five aspects to health: mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual. We give our employees a comfortable, safe place to work and often a gym to exercise in…that’s physical. We are opening up the work environment to create spaces for collaboration…social. Spiritual is really not in the realm of companies to address. What are we doing about the emotional and the mental? We’re working our employees to the brink.
Why should we meditate at work? To refresh. To energize. To rejuvenate. To clarify. How does meditation bring clarity or energy? Meditation helps quiet the mind.
Often, we’re at work and plugging away at an issue. We think if we just push through, a solution will come. We can’t see the solution because we’re stuck in the problem. We’re furiously working on our issue and a coworker pops in and asks for input on their project. Our cell vibrates (we were smart enough to at least turn the ringer off). The email icon illuminates, indicating three new emails in addition to the 162 we have yet to read
I want to create a corporate culture that values its employees. While building meditation rooms in the workplace is cutting edge, meditation is age-old. Bringing meditation to the workplace is a new idea for America but a centuries-old tradition in other parts of the world. I want to create space for employees to quiet their minds, encouraging employees to meditate, so they can be healthier people. We don’t want people as widgets. We want whole people. Everyone benefits. The company benefits because happier, healthier people equals more creative, more productive employees. Health costs decrease. Sick days decrease. Focus improves. Desire and engagement improves. The company gets good PR…both for their product or service and for potential and current employees as a perk for working at the company. We’re not just creating a better working environment, we’re creating better communities, a better country. We’re always competing with other countries to be the best, this is the answer. It is not The Secret, or The Purple Pill, but it is as Samsung says it, The Next Big Thing. One company, one room at a time.
I have been studying adult health and wellness since 1995. I studied business in healthcare in graduate school while specializing in health behavior and health education. I worked on Crisis and Suicide Hotlines in South Carolina and Indiana in the late 90s. I was introduced to a mindfulness class in 2004 and worked individually with clients pro bono and for pay years later, coaching them and writing visualizations for them to find relief. Creating meditation rooms for the workplace is just an extension of all of my experiences and insights.
I want this for the employees. I want it for the companies. I want if for my community. I want it for our country. I want it for everyone.