The Big 3 Misconceptions about Meditation and Mindfulness in the Workplace
When it comes to bringing meditation and mindfulness into the work place, employers seem to find themselves wrestling with 3 big misconceptions about these life changing practices. Yet the data shows that when employers provide meditation and mindfulness training to their teams, performance sees a boost, the culture elevates and the bottom line benefits. These practices are becoming more and more mainstream, and are now showing up in companies who consider themselves less progressive than the Googles and Amazons of our time. Yet some employers still aren’t sure what the difference is between meditation and mindfulness. Let’s quickly clear that up and then we’ll dive into the big 3.
Mindfulness is paying attention in a specific way; on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgement. It’s being really present with what’s happening within your own mind and body as well as the world around you. Imagine being very present with each sensation of washing your hands, the smell of the soap, temperature of the water, and feeling of your fingers touching. That’s being mindful. Mindfulness’ close cousin is meditation. Meditation is focusing your awareness in such a way that allows your mind and body to experience a deep state of rest. When we’re in deep rest, we heal and increase our vitality, we also let go of built up stress and create a new baseline from which we operate. It’s essentially like cleaning your vehicle’s windshield after a big snow storm; ah, now everything is so clear.
The first misconception employers often have is that meditation and mindfulness training in the office takes time away from time at work. But actually, these practices give back to work by increasing productivity. Studies show that meditation enhances the neural pathways in the brain responsible for concentration and attention. This is why meditators are more focused and productive than non-meditators. Meditation and mindfulness also improve our overall health and vitality, resulting in less sick time away from work. A Stanford University school of Medicine study shows that meditation can lead to a 30% decrease in stress-related symptoms that often lead to serious illness. Take that back pain, migraines, insomnia and chronic fatigue, with meditation and mindfulness, teams are welcoming in more vitality and wellness.
Secondly, some employers believe that these presencing practices don’t fit into the corporate landscape. Though what sets you apart as an employer today is your culture and the benefits you provide. When presented with working in a rigid environment lacking support, or a more supportive environment with flexibility, wellness benefits and less money, most employees (especially the working moms out there) will choose the latter. Additionally, Neuroscientists report that our brains aren’t actually designed to multi-task, and that over time trying to do multiple things at once actually damages our brains and reduces our coherence. Sure, if your team is multi-tasking they may look like a performance posse, but in reality, they are slowly degrading their mental software. By adding meditation and mindfulness into your culture, you not only improve your employee’s lives and mental wellbeing, you also improve their performance and upgrade their software. Win, Win.
Finally, employers often undervalue the return on their investment in meditation and mindfulness training. These powerful practices enhance company culture, individual’s perspective and mindset. They create a culture of belonging and appreciation among employees who experience the training together. A new common ground and a renewed sense of community within teams. Employees become more emotionally intelligent, increasingly compassionate, and improve their communication. Through these changes in individuals and their teams, meditation and mindfulness provide an invaluable return by enhancing communication, teamwork and collaboration amongst teams.
Studies show that regular meditation supports higher functioning of attention and focus, improved memory recall, and more efficient task management all of which are essential to productivity. It’s time for all employers to acknowledge the benefits available to them and their teams when they bring meditation and mindfulness into their organization. It is after all, the year 2020.