It’s common knowledge that if we don’t take time just for us, to rest, recuperate, and relax we will become prone to bouts of stress, depression, anxiety and illness. Yet it’s surprising that even though we are surrounded by a world of convenience, we still lack the time to recover from the hours spent exerting our energies at work.
It’s not difficult to understand. Most people work at least eight hours a day. Add the time spent preparing for work and commuting there and back again, and most of your day is already lost. Some of us have families to take care of too, and our “down” time is spent cooking, cleaning, or chasing toddlers around the house. What about grocery shopping and meetings, or obligatory personal appointments, such as PTAs.? Maybe you study, or work more than one job… The list of things that prevent us from relaxing could very well be endless.
So even though we know that we should be doing something- anything- recreational, how do we go about it? You could spend your free time having a drink with the girls or watching the game with the boys. You could vent your frustrations on a video game, or completely shut down in front of the TV screen but this could cause more problems than it solves.
The reason for this is that there is a very big difference between blowing off steam and relaxing. The former is temporary and although it feels good has no health benefits. The latter, however, can be practised long term, and carries with it long-lasting, positive health effects.
How Meditation Will Benefit You
Meditation and work might seem like two things that fall on opposite ends of the spectrum but when combined the results are immensely positive. Meditation won’t only influence how you feel, but how you work too. The research that proves the physical and psychological benefits of meditation is endless, but there are a few perks to meditating that apply directly to your job, such as:
1. Stress Relief
Meditation not only repairs and calms the nervous system, decreasing our anxieties and worries, but in doing so it improves our outlook on life. The science behind this, simply put, is that meditation lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our bodies which allows us to produce more calming hormones like dopamine and melatonin. The calmer we are, the happier we are, the better we can work. Check out
2. Improved Critical Skills
No matter what sort of job you work, there are certain traits that we all need to do a good job, like reasoning and communication. Because meditation calms and centres us, it increases our awareness- not just of ourselves but our surroundings as well. This leads us to have a better understanding of what we are doing, and gives us a greater capacity for attention to detail. It also makes us more empathetic and compassionate. This makes communication (not just expression, but listening too) so much easier. When clear communication is at play, there will be fewer opportunities for disagreements, discrepancies and arguments. Naturally, that means less stress too.
3. Enhanced Creativity
If you are stressed, tired or in a bad mood, you can’t focus and can’t generate ideas properly. Humans tend to have one track minds, mostly when it comes to our emotions. We literally cannot feel positive and negative emotions at the same time. One is bound to override the other. Thus, if you’re are up to your neck in work and deadlines are drawing nearer, rather than come up with a plan to better manage your workload, you will panic instead. But meditation centres us, and trains us to return to a neutral place of calm when the going gets tough. If we are centred and calm, we have room for creativity, and with creativity comes productivity.
4. Increased Happiness and Brighter Outlooks
When you consider the fact that meditation physically removes stress from our bodies, replaces it with feel-good hormones and keeps us relaxed and calm, the natural conclusion is that it makes us happy too. We subconsciously attract the emotions that we feel, as explained above. If you are angry at one thing; everything will anger you, relevant or not. If you are happy, it will take a lot to upset you. So, meditation not only makes us happier it increases our optimism too. This will in turn motivate you to do a better job.
You Can Meditate At Work!
Imagining yourself assuming the Lotus position at your work desk might make you laugh, but the truth is that meditation doesn’t have to be a physical exercise. To wield the power of meditation at work, you need nothing but your mind. You don’t have to change your clothes, break a sweat or draw unnecessary attention to yourself because there are simple meditations you can do with utmost discretion.
Zen Meditation combines correct posture and breathing with clearing the mind of harmful thoughts, and you can practise it right where you sit.
- Make sure that your back is upright and straight
- Focus on the ground in front of you
- Keep your mouth closed tight
- Breathe through your nose
- Take slow, steady breaths
- Clear your thoughts, focusing only on your breath.
This is a great meditation to try before you start working or while on your lunch break when you won’t be disturbed.
Mindfulness is fantastic because instead of blocking thoughts out, the aim is to experience everything to the fullest to increase awareness instead of wasting energies. It is very calming. You can try it with absolutely everything. Focus on the office around you. Differentiate the sounds, the smells. What is the temperature of the room? How does your outfit feel? What does your desk look and feel like? You can keep a notebook at hand to record the things you never bothered to notice before- you will be surprised at how much information we ignore throughout the day. Check out http://www.mindvalleyacademy.com/blog/mind/evening-meditation .
Because you will be aware, your behavior will be adjusted and you will become kinder, calmer and more relaxed.
Choose a powerful phrase, or ask someone you trust to assign one to you, and repeat it yourself (verbally or mentally) when you need to centre yourself.
Although mantra meditation is incorporated into physical meditation as well, there is no wrong way to use a mantra. So long as you believe whatever you are telling yourself has power, you will feel the effects of your mantra. The best part is, you can say (or think) whatever you like.
Try something simple like “I am awesome”, something purposeful like “I will meet my deadline”, something spiritual like a bible phrase, or it can even be a sound, like humming.
Translates to “life energy cultivation”, and it relaxes both the body and the mind.
- Sit in a comfortable position (mind your posture!)
- Clear your mind as best you can.
- Relax your muscles.
- Regulate your breaths. Keep them steady and controlled.
- Imagine a flow energy in your centre (just above your belly button)
- Picture this energy coursing through veins, calming your nerves, rejuvenating your breaths, warming your skin- from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.
The “Ding” Technique
Set a timer or alarm to go off on the hour, every hour. This will serve as a reminder to relax. When it sounds, do something that will take your mind off work for a minute or two. Say your mantra, stretch, sit up straight, take a few deep breaths, or be mindful of something near you; the meditation doesn’t matter. Do whatever will relax you.
The Red Sticker
As with the ding technique, this is not an actual meditation but rather a reminder to take care of yourself. Using anything small and inconspicuous (for example a red sticker), place them wherever you can around the office. Every time you pass or notice one, take a few seconds to breathe and relax, be mindful, or clear your mind.
Did you know that because breathing is an autonomous process, most of us don’t breathe properly? Your breath is powerful and when done correctly, your nervous system will be revitalized. Use your diaphragm so that when you breathe in your ribcage rises, and when you breathe out you deflate. Keep your breaths steady, and breathe through your nose. Just remember to breathe deeply, and to be mindful of every breath you take.
Make a Mental Note
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which meditation technique you choose, as long as it works for you. Regardless of the method, the important thing to keep in mind is that when you do take these few minutes to meditate, you should really focus on the calming effects it will have on your body and soul. With practise, the benefits won’t be hard to ignore and soon it will become routine.