Is it Easy to Meditate at Work?
Meditation can help you be more present for those around you.
People often ask me about meditation at work. On top of the relaxation, increased focus, and connection with those around us, meditation is a way to reconsider stress and the effect it has on our bodies and our lives.
As it turns out, having a negative perception of stress can do damage to our health. Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied how the perception of stress relates to the physical effects of stress on the body. Their study of 186 million U.S. adults found that a subjects reporting high levels of stress and who said stress played a major role in their health a lot had a 43% increased risk of premature death.
This is incredibly significant. We’ve long been taught to avoid, and even fear stress, a mindset which may actually be compounding its negative effects in the long-term. It could be that assuming stress has control of you amplifies the stress to harmful levels.
But is there a way to accept higher levels of stress but change our beliefs surrounding it?
Workplace meditation to reframe stress
It can be a wonderful new practice, but you’ll need to be dedicated to the idea before you can make meditation part of your everyday. And, often, your checks and balances system will be internal. If you start to feel yourself straying from your practice, there’s always the option to start over and try another way.
Whether you’re ambitious and would like to work hard to steadily increase the frequency and quality of your meditation practice, or simply looking to spend five minutes each day to centering yourself, meditation will be your time to get more intentional about the way you work. To set yourself up for success, start preparing yourself at home. Commit to better sleep so that you wake up with a clear mind. Have a balanced breakfast.
It’s all cyclical, as you’ll see, because meditation will help with sleep, but it’s harder to meditate when you haven’t slept well. Once you’ve made simple changes, you’ll be more prepared to start a serious meditation practice at work.
5-minute morning meditation
Take the first five minutes at your desk, your car, or somewhere comfortable outdoors before you go to your first appointment of the day. This is a time for you to breathe, reconnect with yourself, and confront stress without letting it take your thoughts on a joyride. Here are a few simple steps to follow for your first mindfulness meditation for stress relief and reframing.
Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and set your intention. Think about what your priorities for the day are, and how you’d like to handle what comes your way.
Begin to pay attention to your breath. Take a breath in through your nose and exhale slowly. Do this for several breaths, while you let go of your thoughts about work or any other worries.
Repeat your mantra: I am aware. It’s normal to get distracted. As your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing and recommit to your awareness of how you feel. “Now I am aware.” Repeat the mantra for five minutes.
When you’re ready, bring focus back to your body, one finger or limb at a time. This is when you can begin to take deeper breaths. Feel your chest fill with air, enjoy a long exhale, and open your eyes when you are ready.
Throughout your day when you catch yourself feeling stressed (or worried about how you’re going to deal with the inevitable stress), take a moment to breath and come back to your relaxed state. Remember the feeling of relaxation you were able to achieve when meditating when you need to throughout the day. Starting with even 5 minutes can make a big difference. Practice meditation in the morning, and if you find that you can increase the frequency, try finding a quiet place around lunchtime or toward the end of your workday. When you can reset with meditation during your day, it helps you to be more present for those around you, as well as, not take a stressful situation in your workday and compound it with each meeting after because you didn’t take a moment to pause and reset.
If you are wondering if there are apps to help - there are! These apps can help guide you through meditations and you can decide the length of time as well. Some apps that have helped me are Headspace and Calm. There are many more out there as well. For our B³ Method Institute Members, we provide meditation videos from my yoga studio, Drishtiq Yoga, that are recorded by our instructors. You can find more information on the B³ Method Institute here.