Five ways to bring more meditation into your work life
Meditation is an oasis of calm in our busy lives, a time to check in with ourselves and simply be instead of do. And the wonderful thing is, this dedicated daily session of focused presence has a spillover effect: we generally find that we’re better able to navigate the challenges of everyday life thanks to our practice. And that’s excellent news, because the goal of meditation is a better, more aware and positive life both on the cushion and off.
How can we bring our meditation training into our jobs?
Only a lucky few have breaks suitable for a formal session of practice built into their jobs. And if some companies have caught on to the great benefits of giving employees a dedicated space and enough time to unplug, most haven’t. But there are lots of ways to meditate, and it is definitely possible to extend your practice into your work life. Here are five meditation tips for the busy meditator.
1) Micro sessions. Depending on your work situation, you may be able to integrate quick meditation moments into your day. These can be programmed (every hour on the hour, three minutes, say) or random (take a mindful moment every time your colleague’s phone rings). Mindfulness is a form of meditation that really works for this: putting your work brain on hold for just the time it takes to be aware of your breath. Mute your devices, take stock of what you’re feeling (whatever that may be), let it pass without following the storyline, and recenter on the breath. Even mini-sessions can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to continue your day with enthusiasm.
2) A grateful meal break. Whenever possible, search out a quiet corner of your building or head outdoors and enjoy your meal mindfully. While any basic meditation can be practiced while you’re eating and drinking, gratitude meditation is tailor-made for work breaks, including short ones. This simple meditation is about being present and maintaining grateful awareness of all of the people, animals and other elements that contributed to making it possible for you to be right where you are, doing just what you’re doing. It’s a great way to create a buffer between the stresses and conflicts of the workplace and to appreciate the richness of the present moment.
3) Walking meditation. Whether walking to restock the shelves, heading from the teachers’ room to the classroom, or simply taking a bio break, instead of letting your thoughts wander where they will or paying attention to the environment, spend one conscious minute—more if you can swing it—being fully aware of the physical sensation of walking, especially at the level of your feet and legs. This is easiest to do if you’ve integrated walking meditation into your formal practice outside of work.
4) Mantra. “Mantras” are phrases that are repeated to help you stay focused and positive. Originally, mantras mainly served a spiritual or religious purpose (both in the Eastern and the Judeo-Christian traditions). Nowadays they are also recognized as an effective and easy meditation technique for positive thinking, as in: “I am enough,” or from Oprah Magazine, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Learn more about mantra meditation here.
5) Commuting. If you’re lucky enough to be able to walk to work, that’s a great time to unplug and take some walking meditation steps. If you have to drive or ride, the best way to meditate is still to unplug, and use the time to connect with whichever of the types of meditation is your go-to.