Meditation is not one-size-fits-all. If a quiet-your-mind approach doesn’t work, try a mantra-based session, where you repeat a word (e.g., “calm”) or group of words (e.g., “I am calm”) of your choice for several minutes. If a mantra doesn’t resonate, try just listening to nature sounds and focusing on your breath. Do a little research on the different types of meditation.
As we work to lift the mental health stigma, we’re missing the boat. The conversation should be: What can we do to promote a mentally healthy environment for ourselves and others every day?
Mental health is a spectrum; don’t delude yourself, we’re all on it. It ranges from “normal” emotions to “abnormal” emotions…from happy and perky at one end to suicidal thoughts at the other. And most of us aren’t hovering around happy and perky.
We don’t realize how much our daily emotional and mental health affects us. How we feel affects every single thing in our worlds. Just take a snapshot of any scenario from yesterday. What happened? What were your feelings around the event? How did you react? How did you feel physically based on what you thought and did in response? If it was a negative exchange at work, for example, maybe you got a knot in your stomach and couldn’t concentrate on your project for 45 minutes after the encounter.
I propose a twist on the oft-annoying and unproductive team-building retreat. Instead of meandering through a corn maze (ahem, which I have done), take your team on an outing that will really produce some change…through awareness.
Dig in the dirt. Get in there with your hands and on your knees. Plant small plants individually. Plant large shrubs and trees as a group. Dig. Pat. Shake. Rake. Mulch…make it pretty. Perfect for a service project, too. Donate the team’s time to a local Habitat® project.
There’s something strangely powerful about walking meditations.
While walking along the Seine in Paris, I zoomed in on my feet and videoed myself teetering on the cobblestones. As you’ll see in the video, I’m walking way too fast for a walking meditation; but you will be drawn in by the movement and the sounds…just as I was. The meddlesome thoughts about your boss or your spouse will disappear as you take each step along with me. You’ll hear the captivating Notre Dame bells in the background and my tourist comrades’ voices fading in and out.
Grab your phone, or equally fun recording device, and make one for yourself and notice how transfixed you become.
**Check out our YouTube channel for more walking meditations.**
I love to travel! I’m mindful 89% of my waking hours. I’m acutely observant of others….our differences and similarities. I’m more patient and accommodating. I’m more creative and in tune. I believe this is true of many of us when we travel…that we observe more, are more aware, more in sync, more thoughtful.
What could be better than creating “Human Spaces: Spaces Designed with the Human in Mind?” Creating spaces for humans should not only be of interest to designers but to people who work, who shop, who live, who go to school in these environments. That’s everybody!
While wellness in the individual is multifactorial, signs point to a distinct link between wellness and design. As we improve the built environment with design elements that include better lighting, more fresh air and the use of materials and products that don’t leach toxic chemicals into the air, it would follow that health and well-being of the occupants should improve.
As much as I preach meditation in the workplace, I would be remiss to not address the criticism surrounding Modern Meditation. In a recent article, a long-time meditator and teacher offers the following insight (see quotes below) into what’s wrong with today’s Mindfulness and Meditation Movement (MAMM, let’s make it official):
“So many people seem to be moving narcissistically — conditioned by our culture, doubtless — into self-centered happiness-seeking and quietism, not to mention the use of mindfulness for mere effectiveness.”
Tightness in your chest, pit in your stomach. Stress! Stress at work. Stress at home. What do you do?
Exercise? Eat better? Good long-term strategies.
What if it’s the middle of the workday and you’re on deadline. Head pounding. No time to go for a walk or to take a long, leisurely lunch break. Ignore the headache, stomachache, backache? Pop a pill?
Might work. At least short term.