(Anmol: Here is a great article on managing stress at work by guest author Tom Von Deck. Tom is a widely respected meditation teacher who also practices Kriya Yoga, Reiki, ThetaHealing, Qigong and more. He is know for his expertise in workplace meditation training and is the author of Oceanic Mind. You can find more of his teachings and programs at http://www.deepermeditation.net/.
If you would like to be a guest author on Master of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Meditation to Manage Stress at the Workplace
By Tom Von Deck
The importance of managing stress at the workplace has become increasingly apparent in recent years. Massive layoffs have increased the workloads of those who retain their jobs. The remaining workers stress about losing their jobs. Office politics generally seem more tense.
Toxic levels of stress not only have an impact on employees, but also the institutions they work for. According to The American Institute of Stress, Stress costs USA businesses roughly $300 Billion per year. Businesses are in the business of looking out for their bottom lines. Judging from the numbers, managing workplace stress makes a lot of fiscal sense. Google even has in-house meditation trainers who offer meditation lessons to the other employees, or so I hear.
The $300 Billion price tag comes from absenteeism, insurance claims, “unmindful” communication, costly mistakes, lack of absorption in work, lack of creativity and employee burnout. These account for just some of the measurable costs of stress at the workplace. Stress stifles creativity and intuition, which are two qualities that lead to productivity.
Imagine one employee with very little stress build up. She meditates for 30 minutes each day, eats well, sleeps well and takes short meditation breaks throughout the day. She is likely to be more in touch with that place of deep inner stillness within, the place where all intuition comes from. One day, the 50 million dollar idea emerges from the depths of the silence. This idea makes the company’s whole year. Without her mindful lifestyle, her cue may have been obscured by stress.
The ego loves to push away uncomfortable experience and cling to pleasant experience, often by suppressing the breath. Such a tendency creates tension within us and within our relationships (including work relationships). The tension creates stress at the workplace as well as disease and emotional problems within us. As many readers of this website know, one of the best antidotes is meditation.
Meditation is the art of being present with inner experience as it arises into consciousness. This means experience from thoughts, from external events, from emotions and from body sensations. Meditation is a training process which gradually increases your capacity for equanimity, joy and peace. As you build equanimity, stress rolls off of you more easily because experience is not “sticking” to you. Meditation is also the art of falling in love. Falling in love is a form of concentration on an “object of focus”. Productivity increases as you learn how to focus. Think of how much more efficiently a human being and a workplace can run when regularly practicing meditation.
Even one person who meditates regularly can help reduce a lot of the stress at the workplace. Peace is contagious and so is tension. One expression of peace and joy from a coworker can fuel your entire day. One bitter remark can send you into a downward spiral. Furthermore, the meditating workers are less likely to react negatively to the bitter remarks and continue passing on that ichy energy to others.
Therefore, a mindfulness based approach is essential for managing stress at the workplace. You can hire a motivational speaker to remind everyone to stop and smell the roses and to go jogging and to get a massage. These are all important. However, employees know this already. Why not put up cardboard signs saying “stop and smell the #&%@& roses, people!” and spend your program money on training that really goes to the root of the problem?
Meditation in the workplace
You may be asking whether meditation in the workplace is appropriate. After all, a workplace is a place for work and getting things done rather than “blissing out”. Many former meditators report that they have not developed a consistent meditation practice because they believe they do not have time. Many others report that it is hard to sit or stand in meditation at a certain time of day and really be present with it. To such people I recommend a solid “integration strategy”.
An integration strategy is a method for integrating meditation into your day so that you create a powerful momentum of peace which makes stress relief and meditation easier. Muslims pray as a group 5 times daily. Many Buddhists engage in daily activities as mindfully as possible. Buddhists may also make it a habit to be present with the stream of thought throughout the day without judgment. Contemplative Christians may slip in some Bible passages now and then. These are integration strategies.
99% of an integration strategy involves the proper use of “Elevator Time”. You have 20 seconds in an elevator to do something that is grounding, centering, spiritually meaningful and relaxing. This can be a song from church, a Rumi poem, yoga stretches, chants, conscious breathing or whatever personally either generates feeling in your body or centers you into a mindful state. It is very important to slip such activities into your Elevator Time and to take at least 30 seconds out of each hour to interweave such activities into your day. This creates a momentum of peace below the level of consciousness, even if you are not aware of the immediate results. It will creep up on you.
The more solid your integration strategy is, the easier it is to let go of stress at the workplace, at home or wherever you are. Productivity soars when you have this momentum of peace.
Therefore, it is best for workplace stress levels to accommodate for meditation and prayer breaks – even brief ones. Workplaces can set up “serenity rooms” for this purpose. Some already do.
If you’re a boss or a human resources manager, consider adding meditation training seminars as part of your program to reduce stress at the workplace. Look for ways to encourage short meditation breaks, too. Keep these two elements in place, and you will notice “profound” results in your bottom line. If you’re not the boss and don’t work in HR, print this article and leave it on someone’s desk. If they follow up, they’ll thank you later.
Tom Von Deck is a corporate meditation trainer, stress management speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course and The Deeper Meditation Audio Course. He offers stress management seminars and programs at workplaces worldwide.
Workplace Stress Management site: www.DeeperMeditation.Net
Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course site: www.DeeperMeditation.Net/oceanicmind