No, you’re not crazy for wanting to meditate at work. Research shows that meditation can help workers regulate emotions, which can make you a more effective leader, manager and decision-maker.
Business professionals like media mogul Russell Simmons, Green Mountain Coffee Roaster founder Robert Stiller and movie director David Lynch publicly credit meditation with providing inspiration and useful insight.
Interested in practicing this ancient technique to help you and your employees grow professionally? Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Mark your calendar
Make time for meditation by assigning it a rightful spot in your day. If you share a calendar with others at the office, simply write “busy” or “unavailable” if you would prefer not to discuss your meditation practice.
Step 2: Find the right spot
You don’t need a magical place to meditate. You can meditate in an office — or supply closet, conference room — or any other quiet spot. The main requirement is that you sit quietly, without distraction, for the length of your meditation. Choose a place where you won’t feel ridiculous if you take off your shoes or close your eyes, a place you can close (and lock) the door. For non-locking doors, hang a “do not disturb” sign outside to encourage your coworkers to leave you alone. If necessary, meditate in your car.
Step 3: Eliminate distracting noises
That means no buzzing, dinging, chiming or chirping. Send all calls straight to voicemail. Put your computer to sleep. Better yet, turn it off. Your goal is to reduce every external distraction. If your workspace is located near a busy section of the office or a place with lots of noise —like next to an elevator or in close proximity to the kitchen — find a more appropriate spot for your meditation.
Step 4: Select the amount of time you would like to spend in meditation
Any period of time spent in meditation is beneficial, no matter how short. Start with 5 minutes, then increase to 7 minutes. When you feel comfortable, work your way up to 10 minutes or more. Choose a relaxing alarm (use your phone’s timer) to signal the end your session.
Step 5: Close your eyes and begin
There are as many ways to meditate as there are meditators, so feel free to pick a process that feels comfortable. The basic idea behind meditation is to focus on the present moment. Here is an easy quick-start guide:
· Sit or lie comfortably, letting your body relax. Pay attention to areas you might unconsciously hold tension, like your brow, shoulders or the corners of your mouth.
· Count backwards from 10 to 1 as you imagine yourself descending a steep spiral staircase.
· Allow your inhalation and exhalation to lengthen as you fill and empty your lungs completely. Focus on your breath.
· If you count down to 1 and find that you have not fully relaxed, begin counting and descending that mental staircase again.
Step 6: Think whatever thoughts arise
New meditators often mistakenly think that they must clear their minds and “think nothing.” Since the average person thinks about 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, “thinking nothing” is next to impossible. Give yourself permission to think any thoughts that arise during your meditation (your big presentation, the company’s annual financials, your dinner plans for the evening…) The key is to not linger on any one thought for very long. Continue to steer your thoughts back your breath. This maintains your focus on the present Congratulations! You’re meditating!
The quality and content of your meditation will change over time. After a few regularly-scheduled meditation sessions, you will start to see a change. It will get easier to “clear your mind.” After becoming more comfortable in your meditation practice, try an experiment: use meditation to seek greater insight, personally or professionally. Simply pose your question before your meditation by saying it out loud, writing it down, or just concentrating on it for about 15 seconds. This is referred to as “setting an intention.” You might also say something like, “I would like to gain greater clarity on XYZ question…”
Conduct your meditation as usual. Don’t worry about focusing on your question (or not!) during meditation. Simply do what you have always done. After emerging from meditation, look for clues, signs, “gut feelings” about your question. If you do not receive any immediate insight, don’t worry, you can always continue on your journey to answers during you next mediation session.
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