With the recent announcement of a second lockdown. We are more stressed at work than ever before, whether being at the office or working from home. In this week’s blog post we are going to be talking about how to create more time and space for mindfulness meditation which can take part within the workplace.
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There are so many reasons that we are stressed at work and even more than ever before; this may be from having an excessive workload or trying to keep up with constant emails, not enough sleep because you have been worrying about all this stress which has led to sleepless nights of worry, to even having bosses who like to pile on the pressure. But there is a resolution to all this stress as Sharon Salzburg (Buddhist meditation teacher & writer) states “it’s hard to give from a source of depletion” therefore don’t try and work through the stress. We need to learn new techniques to help deal and cope with stress. Although, if we do try living with the stress and not learn how to de-stress this can affect our performance at work and start affecting your home life and family. No worries, there are solutions and techniques that we can learn to help cope and de-stress. whilst in stressful situations at work.
Sharon Salzberg Image Credit - Pinterest
Meditation Room, Office Design Image Credit - The Shade Store
Techniques You Can Use to Help With Stressful Situation During Your Workday
The technique which is the most common is the ‘relaxation response’, this was first discovered by Dr Herbert Benson who is the founder of Benson – Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. Dr Benson stated that this technique gives you the ability to encourage the body to release chemicals and brain signals that encourage our muscles and organs to slowdown which allows for our blood flow to increase to the brain and has the exchange of “fight or flight” response. Through regular practice of the relaxation response, you can achieve a positive effect from this technique which can help with a variety of stress related conditions. There are many different ways in which we can stimulate the relaxation response such as:
- Energy healing
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Tai chi
- Breathing technique’s
Mindful Yoga Practice, Image Credit - © HEJHEJ-MATS
Energy Healing Image Credit - © The Future Kept.
Massage Relaxation, Image Credit - Freepik
Mindfulness Mediation is another technique you can use to deal with stress and is a very popular choice. So much so that it has attracted the attention of professional sports teams, military commanders, business leaders and even U.S Congressmen and UK Government. Companies have also started to adopt the mindful practice into their offices by creating stress reduction programs for employees. This helps combat employee’s wellbeing. The companies that have started to implement this are: LinkedIn, Green Mountain Coffee, General Mills, Facebook, and Google.
Communal Co-Working Designed by DA-LAB Arquitectos, Image Credit: Renzo Rebagliati
Design by Partners by Design / Photography by Tom Harris (Hedrich Blessing Photographers)
Companies are starting to reap amazing benefits from mindfulness within the workplace. So, what is mindfulness meditation? Mindfulness meditation particularly focuses on concentration and open awareness, which is all about being independently aware of what we are feeling and thinking. Mindfulness can be found in a variety of reflective traditions but is more commonly known from the Theravadan Buddhist Practice of Vipassana (insight meditation). Although this mindfulness practice can be adapted into our daily lives such as:
- Routine tasks
Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
Mindfulness was originally brought about in the western world 30 years ago by Eckhart Tolle, who wrote the book ‘A New Earth Awakening to your Life’s Purpose’.Kabat – Zinn a Biologist who was a Buddhist student that integrated his teaching with western science. He then went on to develop a process called mindfulness – based stress reduction. Which is now being offered to hospitals, health insurance organisations and even medical centres.
So How Does Mindfulness – Based Stress Reduction Actually Work?
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The principle of mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques helps you to focus on the present, rather than on the past or future. As human beings we are always very self-aware. Which means we can easily notice how others perceive us, our own thoughts, talking to ourselves and best of all stress our selves out. Which isn’t great and not what we need! As we are focusing large amounts of our time thinking and contemplating about the past, whilst fixating over the future. It’s leaving us no time to embrace and truly live in the present.
Well being Office Space, Image Credit - Haworth Inc
“Meditation requires that we work out our brain muscles in a different way. Instead of trying to think about ten things at once, which is normal for most people, it requires that we focus on only one thing at a time, and with full concentration.”
This could be breathing. This concentrated practice allows our brains muscles the need to focus attention and ‘respond not react’ to events as they unfold in our lives. Meditation also helps our minds to stop from wandering, which actually happens 47% of our waking hours! From a study from Harvard Psychologists Daniel T. Gilbert and Matthew A. Killingsworth, they found that humans spend a lot of time thinking about what isn’t going on around them such as; thinking about things that might happen in the future, to reflecting on events that happened in the past or even may never happen. Certainly, you can see that our mind wandering seems to be default mode to us. Therefore, by just taking a few calming and focusing minutes every day for your mind will be great.
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How To Incorporate More Mindfulness into Your Workplace?
So, if your company or business is interested in a meditation initiative? It will require you to have time and space and planning for at work.
Step 1 is to Create a Space for Meditation at Work
Workspace Wellness, Image Credit - People Space
You will be surprised by how many offices actually have a meditation or health and wellness room which could be used for this purpose. A great example of this is the World Bank which has meditation rooms explicitly designed for the staff to help de stress. Although workplaces don’t necessarily have to have a dedicated space specifically for meditation. It could even be a conference room, although try and locate one that is out of high traffic areas, you don’t want that noise to disturb you. Conference rooms actually make great seated meditation zones.
Tubescience Studios Offices - Los Angeles, Designed by Alfredo Catedral-Webb Image Credit, Alfredo Catedral-Webb
Another great example is the Headspace office in Santa Monica which was designed by architect firm Montalba. Following the core values of the company they created small spaces where employees could take a moment for personal reflection and to de-stress. They created free standing meditation pods and quiet meditation areas which are available all around the office and allow for employees to have an additional moment of aloneness whenever necessary.
Headspace Headquarters Designed by Kelly Robinson - Image Credit Wundr Studio.
Headspace Headquarters -Designed by Kelly Robinson Image Credit : Wundr Studio
As you can see the most important requirement for an effective meditation space within the office is that it feels free from distraction and creates a sense of safety.
Step 2 is Make Time for Meditation at Work
Meditation is a great stress reduction technique that can be used at work at any time, although the best time to meditate is before you or your colleges get too bogged down in your workday. The idea of meditation is to increase awareness. Therefore, the most optimum time to meditate is first thing in the morning. You are more aware of what you are feeling compared to how you feel at the end of the day, where you may feel too tired to concentrate. Also, another great time to meditate is after exercise, you have burnt off all your physical energy and it is easier to calm the mind and is a great way to start meditating if you are a beginner. This can be demonstrated in a yoga class. When you start a yoga lesson it normally begins with movement and ends with meditation practice at the end. A yoga session is designed to help your body to sit still and reflect whilst meditating.
Create a Meditation Area Image Credit - Kay Danielle Uimari of Rose-Minded.com
Meditation Area Image Credit - Backyard Buildings
As you can see taking time for yourself and mediating is a great way to de-stress from work whether that is before or after work. Slowing down and being present at work is something you can develop over time. If you are interested in mediating here are our two favourite apps that we would recommend which are Headspace and Calm. Both of the apps provide guided meditation that can be personalised to your workday/lifestyle.
Image Credit - Headspace
Image Credit - Calm