How To Practice Meditation At Work– Ultimate Guide

how to practice mindfulness at work

By learning how to practice meditation at work you will greatly increase your productivity and reduce stress. Plus, it will help you deal with all those emails, presentations, meetings, phone calls, and the million other things that add up to put pressure in your mind. 

Yes, you will be able to relax while working. 

Meditation is the simple practice of focusing the mind on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. It is a relatively simple practice, but it yields big benefits. That’s why places like Google and Apple no incorporate mindfulness at work. 

As a corporate meditation coach, I have personally taught many people how to meditate at work. And there are lots of ways to do it. You can use breathing meditations, mindful stretches, Body Scans, and oh so much more.  

So let me share everything you need to know. And let’s start by discussing the benefits of meditation at work. 

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Big benefits of practicing meditation at work

Practicing meditation at work is beneficial for both the employee and the employer. I have seen this many times in our corporate meditation programs.

For the employee, mindfulness helps us to remain calm during stressful moments. In turn, this helps us to be more productive because we are more conscious of what we are doing instead of being lost in all that stress [READ: How To Use Meditation For Productivity]. And finally, it makes us happier at work, as proven by scientific research.

There are big pluses for the employer too. Not least the fact that practising meditation at work leads to increased productivity and higher employee satisfaction. In turn, this improves employee retention rates.

A 2014 US study conducted by Dane, E., & Brummel, B. J.et al. [2] showed that being mindful at work led to an increase in Turnover Retention because mindful employees are better equipped to handle stress.

Simply put: there are big benefits of meditation at work for both employer and employee. This is why companies like Adobe and Facebook have started to incorporate mindfulness at work.

Better Mental Health at Work

According to MentalHealth.org, 14.7% of employees suffer work-related mental health problems, the most common of which is stress (although anxiety and depression are also commonplace).

Practising meditation at work has been shown to improve workers’ ability to handle the pressure and expectations that can cause mental health conditions.

You might wonder how you’re supposed to practice mindfulness while working. After all, it’s not like you have a lot of time. However, Shamash Aldina (“author of Mindfulness for Dummies”) says, “Mindful exercises can be as short as you wish. Even one minute of consciously connecting with one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise.” [4]

 

Productivity

Meditation boosts single-tasking (the opposite multi-tasking), which is essential for productivity. Indeed, research shows that multi-tasking does not work. Zheng Wang at Ohio State University found that students who multi-task felt more productive but were actually less productive

But it can be hard not to multitask at work.

Janice Marturano, founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, says “The information we’re bombarded with [from emails, texts, etc.] can [produce anxiety] and it can create a sense of disconnection that can overwhelm us [in our professional lives]”.

Do you feel like you’re constantly bombarded with noise and information? I know the feeling. Often when I am at work I continually get emails and messages pouring more and more tasks on me, making me evermore stressed.  

Stress

The staggering amount of noise and information at work has given rise to the term “information economy.”  Writing for the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley, Jacqueline Carter and Rasmus Hougaard say, “In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills.”

Thankfully, mindfulness helps to tune-out noise and people so you can focus.

Mindfulness makes workers more aware of what they are doing. It boosts consciousness and helps us to focus through the negative thoughts and stress that come from a demanding job. This increased awareness means employees are less likely to make mistakes and more likely to perform their roles successfully. It also changes the Default Mode Network, so that if you are automatically multi-task you will naturally develop more of a single-take mindset.

Concentration

Perhaps the biggest benefit of meditation for work is that it improves focus and concentration.

Research shows that mindfulness enhances the region of the brain responsible for self-regulation, the Anterior Cingulate Cortex. This helps employees to avoid distractions, such as emails and social media. The University Of Washington states, “…Those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative emotion after task performance…”

How To Practice Meditation At Work

Having seen the staggering benefits, you are probably wondering how to practice meditation at work.

There are many mindfulness exercises for the workplace. In essence, we can be mindful of any simple, repetitive task (of which most jobs have plenty).

 

First, some background info on meditation 

So, what exactly is meditation? And how do you practice meditation at work?

Meditation is the state of being consciously aware of the present moment in a non-judgmental fashion, and often involves focusing the mind on one thing, such as the breath.  Read our beginners guide to meditation for more on this.

Meditation started as a Buddhist practice. Buddha taught that mindfulness is a practice focused on living in the present moment. But today there are many modern ways to meditate, meaning you don’t necessarily have to sit with your eyes closed and take 108 breaths, which even I myself, as a meditation teacher, sometimes do not have the time to do.

Meditating at work means taking little moments to focus the mind, to be non-judgmental and calm. There are my ways to do this. For instance, Jon Kabat Zinn’s Body Scan Meditation, and traditional breathing meditations, as well as mindful communication.

Ways To Practice Meditation At Work 

  • Takie short one or two minute breaks to close the eyes and focus on breathing. This is the mental equivalent to opening the window to let in fresh air. It refreshes the mind and clears out negative thoughts and stress.
  • Practising mindful exercise at work: Many workplaces now have spaces for yoga and similar exercises like tai chi. These mindful exercises help to relax and energise both the body and mind. Ten minutes of yoga at work will pay dividends.
  • Mindful Listening: This exercise is massive for staff morale if practised as a team. The objective is to listen to each other in a conscious, non-judgmental fashion. Simply focus on the sound of the other person’s voice, without being judgmental. This reduces arguments, heightens workplace compassion, and improves communication.
  • Desktop Zen Gardens: A desktop zen garden is essentially a small box full of white sand that we decorate with a little rake (you will have seen the Japanese rock gardens with circular ripples of sand; these are the same but) for the desktop). This is a very relaxing practice that will quieten the mind and dispel stress.
  • Writing: If your work involves writing, you can always use it as an excuse to practice mindful writing.
  • Meditate on your commute to work. 
  • Meditate during your lunch break.

Taking It Further

There are so many reasons to start practising mindfulness at work. It benefits both employee and employer and costs nothing. Big companies like Google and Nike are starting to embrace mindfulness, and smaller employers are following suit.

Many companies these days hire me as a meditation teacher to visit their office and teach their employees to meditate. This is a small investment with big rewards.

By introducing mindfulness in the workplace, you can improve staff morale, reduce turnover rates, and increase productivity. It’s a simple practice that benefits the whole team.

If you’re an employer and you would like to incorporate mindfulness at work, contact me today.

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. "My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation" - Paul Harrison

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