Wellness at Work: Make Meditation Happen

Wellness at Work: Make Meditation Happen

By Susan Vogel, Senior Grants Manager

Once a week in a large conference room, something magical happens. We move the tables and chairs to the side, grab blankets and bolsters, and take off our shoes. Breathing slows, minds calm, and for the moment, thoughts of deadlines are set aside. Our weekly group meditation session has begun.

AMC’s meditation group has grown over time and is now an integral part of a weekly wellness activity that many look forward to. Group meditation was started by a few interested people and has steadily grown because of the restorative benefits meditation provides.

The value of employee wellness programs benefits both employers and employees alike. Employees benefit from an increase in focus and reduction in stress, while employers who focus on employee health may find it easier to retain and recruit talented people.
We always are grateful for such things as ergonomic chairs, standing desks, employee assistance programs, and other activities that employers provide for workforce wellness. However, as employees, we also can take care of ourselves at work.

The Value of Meditation

The value of meditation on health and well-being is well documented with research that demonstrates the association between meditation and job performance. Not only do you feel relaxed as you practice it, but you also experience the benefits throughout the work day as you are better able to focus on tough tasks and meet deadlines.

Start Your Own Meditation Group

 yoga in the workplace

It’s easy to initiate a meditation group as there is very little investment for participants other than finding a space, gathering a few supplies, and taking a short period of time out of their day.

Get a room. We use a large conference room and push the tables to the sides. Some of us like to sit on the floor and some are more comfortable in chairs.

yoga supplies

Bring supplies. Participants should bring small blankets, a sweater, or even a cushion. We use the speakers in our conference room for guided meditations, but anyone with a Bluetooth speaker can run a guided mediation through a phone or laptop.

Identify guided meditations. Our group almost always uses guided mediation. We also are fortunate to have a trained yoga teacher with meditation experience in our midst who guides us. But, even if you don’t have a trained teacher, there are some great online resources to get you started:

Unanticipated Outcomes

Though I have meditated at home by myself, I found some unanticipated but very positive outcomes from participating in AMC’s weekly group meditation. I have met and befriended coworkers whom I do not usually interact with during the day. Refreshingly, meditation unifies participants by bringing down barriers related to job titles, roles, and responsibilities. Everyone is at the same level when sitting on the floor in meditation.

I also have seen meditation used to successfully set the tone of a business meeting. In a recent meeting, as anxiety and emotions were rising because of a difficult situation, the meeting leader floated her palms up (a common meditation mudra [hand] position), took a deep breath in, followed by a long breath out, and the rest of us spontaneously followed without a word spoken. The act took 10 seconds and successfully calmed escalating emotions. It did not make the situation less difficult, but I appreciated the silent call to focus on my breath and switch from panic to problem-solving mode.

When I invite new coworkers to participate in our weekly meditation sessions, it is not uncommon for them to say, “I have way too much work to go to meditation.” Though I have had to skip an occasional meditation session because of a pressing deadline, the long-term benefits I’ve experienced by making time for meditation at work have been well worth it. More important than improving my productivity, meditation has been a way to improve my sense of wellbeing. Difficult situations, tight deadlines, and daily annoyances do not go away, but managing your wellbeing at work is something that you can take action on. If you have even a smidgen of interest, I encourage you to gather a few like-minded co-workers, book a conference room, and get started. You will not regret it.

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