Dating back to ancient times, meditation has been used to facilitate mindfulness, awareness, enlightenment, and reflection. And now, researchers are looking at how the practice of meditation affects our mental and physical health, and even how it changes the brain .
What was once considered a mystical exercise in mastery of the mind, meditation is everywhere with many companies like Google and General Mills encouraging employees to incorporate it into their daily routines. Despite its ubiquity, it can still be intimidating to jump headfirst into the practice of mindfulness.
How does it work? Where do I start? Do I need to bring a yoga mat to the office?? Relax, take a deep breath, and read on to learn how the practice of meditation can make you work better. You’ll be optimizing productivity and improving focus in no time!
The founder of the mindfulness curriculum at General Mills, Janice Marturano, went on to start the Institute for Mindful Leadership — a non-profit training institute that offers retreats and workshops to teach employees how mindful practice can build resilience, increase creativity and focus, and help foster compassion.
Marturano studied over 100 participants of a seven-week mindfulness workshop from 2008 to 2010. She asked them to reflect on how mindful practice was manifesting in their daily routines and what benefits they had noticed. Marturano found that 83% of participants were carving out time each day to think about ways to optimize their personal productivity, and 82% were eliminating tasks of limited value. On average, eight out of ten noticed improvements in decision-making and nearly 90% reported that they had become better listeners.
As researchers continue to evaluate the effects of meditation practice on our bodies and behaviour, the evidence is stacking up in its favour. Much like aerobic exercise improves the cardiovascular system, meditation trains and tones the mind to function more effectively. According to Healthline.com these are a few other known health benefits of meditation:
– Reduced stress & anxiety
– Improved emotional health
– Enhanced self-awareness
– Lengthened attention span
– Delayed age-related memory loss
– Greater kindness to self and others
– Improved sleep
– Pain control
Which Type of Meditation Works Best?
A quick Google search and you’ll find that there are anywhere from six to 23 different types of meditation out there. Where do you even start?
While you won’t likely start out of the gate with a handle on all 23 techniques, varying your practice with different styles of meditation will give you a well-rounded practice. You’ll soon discover which methods work best for you and how different situations or challenges may require different techniques to help guide you through. Here are five types of meditation to get you started:
- Mindfulness Meditation – Start by being fully present with your thoughts and aware of where you are and what you are doing. Typically using a focus on breath to anchor the practice, you observe thoughts and emotions as they come, but release them without judgement.
- Transcendental Meditation – Using a personally assigned mantra such as a word, phrase or sound that is repeated in a specific way for 20 minutes twice daily, this technique is meant to inspire deep inner peace, relaxation, and rest.
- Guided Meditation – To help achieve a fully relaxed state, a guide will lead you through a series of mental pictures and visualization using smell, sound, and texture to create a sense of calm and peacefulness.
- Vipassana Meditation – This ancient Indian form of meditation aims to create self-transformation through self-observation. By developing a strong awareness of physical sensation in the body, the connection between body and mind is strengthened.
- Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation – As the name suggests, this practice focuses on directing goodwill towards oneself and others through the repetition of the following phrases: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” The practice continues as you visualize someone else and repeat the mantra, replacing the “I” with “you.”
Taking Meditation to Work
Interested in using mindfulness and meditation to help boost engagement and innovation for your team? From online seminars to corporate meditation workshops, there are plenty of ways to bring the practice of mindfulness to the office.
Mindset Brain Gym in Toronto offers drop-in classes, multi-week courses, and customized corporate mindfulness training sessions. With a focus on clinical mindfulness techniques, positive psychology, and neuroscience, Mindset has been helping companies like Uber, Holt Renfrew, and BMO bring mindfulness to the workplace.
Vancouver’s Salt & Spirit Wellness creates customized programs, workshops, and retreats ranging from four to 12 weeks in length. Meditation programs focus on stress management and fostering greater focus, connection, and clarity. They also offer corporate rates for companies so that employees can enjoy unlimited meditation, wellness, and fitness classes at Salt & Spirit.
MindWell-U delivers the popular Mindfulness Challenge — a 30-day online training program that delivers a meditation curriculum using short videos, podcasts, emails and text messages for 5-10 minutes each day. This delivery style makes it easier for employees to find time during their busy day to attend to self-care and mindfulness.
It’s never been easier, or more encouraged, to adopt meditation practices as part of an overall approach to mind and body wellness. Let this be the year you make more time for you. You’ll thank yourself for it later.