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The benefits of meditation in the workplace

08 October 2020 •

By: Anja and Wendy Wellness

Spending a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace, even at the office. While the workplace can be a source of stress, it can also be the perfect place to practice mindfulness and meditation.

If you are new to meditation, these are some of the benefits:

  • Meditation can do wonders for your concentration. In 2011 researchers at the Harvard Medical School examined 17 people during an 8-week meditation program. In the end, they found that there was an increase in grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory and perspective-taking. 
  • It helps you to examine your thoughts and feelings without judgement, which improves your self-esteem.
  • By practising meditation you can lower your cortisol levels to assist with stress management. 
  • Mindfulness meditation helps train your mind to focus on the present, which can reduce your anxiety. 

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” - Lao Tzu

We are so proud to have a wellness room in our office, which we use for yoga and meditation sessions. We are also lucky to have our very own office zen master, Wendy, who has been leading our meditation practices. We caught up with her for a virtual cup of coffee to talk a bit about meditation. 

Q: When did you start meditating?

I started meditation in 2018 when I went on my first 3-day silent retreat. I had never done any sitting or ‘formal’ meditation. Having practised yoga for many years, which really is meditation with movement, sitting meditation seemed like the next ‘step’ in my spiritual and personal path. Since then I have been on many silent retreats, the longest so far being 7 days. I have built a solid and steady meditation practice. For me, early mornings is the best time to practice.

Q: When did the office meditation sessions start?

We started running meditation sessions in our old office in Tygervalley. One of my passions, when we designed the new office, was to include a wellness room that is used for meditation, yoga or a quiet mindful moment. We are very fortunate to have this space for use in the office. Since lockdown, we started doing meditations via Zoom. It is not quite the same experience, because I think you get a lot of benefit from silence in a group practising together. But it has kept the practice alive for us and has the same outcome.

Meditation Room
Q: What do you think are the key benefits of meditation in the workplace?

Meditation in the workplace assists with stress management and it can help with focus. It also helps us, at work, but also out of work, to recognise our old and conditioned patterns of thinking and our resulting reactivity. Meditation helps to move toward more mindful choices and wise actions, allowing us to respond to stressors more constructively. With all the context switching that we do in our busy day-to-day lives, stress is naturally increased, so meditation teaches us to make mindful transitions between tasks, meetings, conversations, etc. It helps us to remain present and engaged throughout the day.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start meditating?

The only advice I can give to someone who wants to start meditating is to start meditating. There is an old Zen saying, “Everyone should meditate for at least 20 minutes a day, unless you’re very busy, then you should meditate for an hour a day”. People think that they need to “know how to” meditate before they can start. Our meditations are gently guided throughout the 15 to 20 minutes sessions. We start with what we know: the body and the breath, and from there move into the more subtle region of insight and personal enquiry. Although it has been practised for millennia through Asia and is aligned with the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, meditation is really for everyone, regardless of spiritual or religious affiliation or practice.

Q: What are some of your favourite meditation apps and books?

The Calm app is a great app to get people started. They offer many styles and types of meditations – some as short as 5 minutes. I used it for a long time, but as my practice developed I felt that I no longer needed to be guided all the time and learnt to guide my own practice. It really is a personal journey.

The five invitations

One of my absolute favourite books is The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski. Frank is a Zen Buddhist teacher who set up the first Zen Hospice in the USA. He has spent countless time sitting with people guiding them through their end of life.

This may sound a little depressing but his invitations, based on what he has learnt from dying people, are intended to help us to live fully. His teachings and stories are incredibly simple and focus on mindful living and fully embracing all of our experiences whether they are pleasant, neutral or unpleasant.

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08 October 2020
By: Anja and Wendy

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