Leaders recognize that distractions—from an overwhelming numbers of emails to “too frequent” meetings—have an impact on a company’s bottom line. These are external issues that businesses can evaluate and address. But the inability of individuals to manage distractions and stay focused—a more internal process—can impact a business in equally disruptive but less obvious ways as well. Studies show that most people are only mentally present about 47 percent of the time! The rest of the time, they are thinking of the future, rehashing the past, daydreaming, or being distracted by things happening around them. This struggle to stay present and focused is supported by deeply ingrained habits and patterns. Most people flit from one thing to another, make decisions without really thinking them through, and act on autopilot much of the time rather than pausing and reflecting on the best response or course of action. This is very costly to businesses in terms of inefficiency, mistakes, poor decisions, and poorly managed relationships. Employees who are not focused on the moment may not make sound business decisions, or they may overreact to minor annoyances and everyday stresses. Meditation, which has been around for thousands of years, may be the solution to minimizing distractions and restoring order to today’s workplace so employees can regain their focus.
What is meditation?
Meditation can be defined in different ways, depending on the tradition supporting it. Meditation has long been part of many religious practices and is sometimes described as prayer or contemplation in that setting. Mindfulness meditation—which is most frequently offered in the workplace—focuses on practices to develop or enhance concentration, focus, self-awareness, insight, empathy, and compassion. It is a secular practice and is sometimes described as training the brain to work and respond in ways that are more skillful and less stress-producing. Mindfulness meditation focuses on the connection between the mind and the body. People who practice it learn to not only pay attention to what they are thinking and doing, but what they are feeling and what is happening in their body in any given moment. This self-awareness allows them to shift from impulsive reactions to responding more insightfully and skillfully. The emphasis on concentration enhances their ability to stay focused. This leads to greater efficiency and reduces stress and the energy drain that comes from multitasking. Several studies have shown the benefits of meditation on physical and emotional health. These studies have found that meditation changes brain wave patterns from high activation to relaxation, which helps improve health. When the brain is in a relaxation pattern, it lowers stress hormones in the blood.1,2 Meditation is like a cooldown for your mind, just like a cooldown for your body after a good workout.
What are some of the benefits of meditation?
The benefits of meditation on physical health:1,2
- Pain management
- Better sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved management of:
- Anxiety disorders
- Heart disease (and even decreasing the risk of this condition)
The benefits of meditation on emotional health:1,2,3
- Stress reduction
- Reduced anxiety and improvement in symptoms of depression
- Fewer negative emotions/a more positive outlook
- Healthier behaviors and overall sense of well-being
How do companies implement health and wellness initiatives like this?
Many high-performing organizations partner with companies that specialize in health and productivity solutions. These solutions, which promote practices like meditation, teach employees valuable skills to manage their daily stress and improve their mood. This allows them to concentrate and more efficiently accomplish the tasks at hand. Sources
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). 2016, April. Meditation: In Depth. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm.
- Mayo Clinic. 2017, October 2017. Meditation: A simple fast way to reduce stress. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858.
- Corliss, Julie. (2014, January 8.) Mindfulness mediation may ease anxiety, mental stress. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967.