Meditation has taken off in the business world in recent years, partly due to the influx of yoga in city culture and partly due the influence of company executives who are aware of the many benefits it offers. If your company is not offering meditation classes to employees, or setting up rooms for quiet reflection, you could be missing out.
Before your religion alarm bells start ringing it is necessary to reassure you that there are plenty of atheists who soak up a little down time on a meditation mat. No religious authority need be brought in; it is simply a time for team members to sit in quiet reflection. Sometimes meditation can be as simple as breath work or focusing on different breathing patterns to achieve certain goals.
The benefits of meditation tend to be noticed over the long-term more than the short-term. Because of this, we rely on science to provide us the best motivators to convince us to add it to an already busy day. Whether ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes a day, there are many good reasons to sit alone, close your eyes, and quiet your mind.
10 10: Stress Reduction
The most talked about and studied effect of meditation would be the effect on stress experienced in everyday business interactions. When we meditate regularly we become more relaxed. Our heartbeat slows, and blood pressure goes down. Think of the number of meetings that descend into chaos, with people angry at one another, emotions flaring, and projectile objects flying across the room.
When everyone is a bit more chilled, relationships in the office become much more bearable. A person who can calm the stress within them can affect all those they meet in a positive way.
9 9: Increase The Bottom Line
The effect on bottom line is often the deal clincher for many in the business world. If something is going to be implemented en masse within a company, the CFO will want to know that it will result in an increase in the income of the company.
Google stands by meditation and it has invested a lot of time and energy in integrating it into its culture. The company now has a labyrinth for walking meditations, classes on how to meditate, and has even brought in Zen monk Thich Nhat Hahn to share his wisdom with the organization. It is not as interested in the mystical stuff so much as maximizing staff performance.
8 8: Boosting Emotional Intelligence
When we speak in anger, we tend to say dumb stuff. There are also people who resort to emotional comfort food to suppress unhelpful feelings in the workplace. The tech companies, which are full of atheistic engineers and computing experts, are not drawn in by the peace, love and understanding message of the hippies. They know that they can sometimes lack in the emotional intelligence arena, and they know that science can explain that issue rationally.
So when these intellectuals stumble upon science telling them that meditation can enhance their emotional intelligence around their co-workers, not to mention improve their love life, they pay more attention. As a result, companies like Google have had no problem in persuading their science-minded employees to line up and meditate.
7 7: Relaxed Professionals Make Better Decisions
At every level within an organization, important decisions are made, and when stressed we tend to be poorer at making good ones. Meditation helps us to release the stress in such a way that heads are clearer when making decisions.
Apple allows its staff to take 30 minutes of its day for meditation. Steve Jobs was a Zen Buddhist and sat regularly in meditation. He believed it helped him and wanted to impart that to his team members, regardless of their spiritual persuasion.
In the early days Jobs may not always have made the best management decisions, but it became quite obvious that he and the rest of the Apple team were on a roll. Quite often they were decisions that went against the norm for the industry at that time, such as the complete control of the Apple product line for best integration. They paid off for the company in the long run and established Apple as a leader in the technology industry.
6 6: Everyone Experiences Greater Detachment From The Outcome
When you walk in to a meeting with attachment to expectations, or worse, desperation for a particular outcome, it comes across. Think of the last time this was the case. You probably found yourself regretting something you said or did, we have all been there at some point in life.
One of the benefits of long-term meditation is that you become less attached to the outcome. You still go in to the meeting with the goal in mind and every intention of achieving it, but you do not have the same emotional stress associated with the possibility of losing out on it. Again, from that position we are much clearer-thinking.
5 Less Absenteeism In The Office
So many sicknesses experienced by business leaders, or their employees, are due to the long-term effect of stress. Injuries on the work force are often brought about by lapses in awareness. Through meditation, we are all able to cultivate a little more inner peace and deal with stressful situations a lot better. Over the long-term this means fewer stress related sicknesses and absenteeism.
In 1983, at a chemical manufacturing firm in Detroit, the benefits of a meditation program were tracked. Within three years absenteeism had fallen by a whopping 85 percent, sick days by 16 percent, and injuries by 70 percent. This was based upon 20 minutes of meditation before work and 20 minutes during the afternoon on company time.
4 Making Decisions That Benefit Everyone
Compassion is a side-effect of long-term meditation and this affects how individuals within a team conduct business. One study, after an 8 week controlled experiment, found that 50 percent of meditators gave up their seats in a waiting room situations. Only 15 percent of non-meditators did.
When people within a business are acting out of compassion, the choices benefit a greater number of people. The researchers believe that meditation enhances your ability to consider outcomes from the perspectives of other people and also provides the meditator with heightened awareness of their surroundings. More study needs to be done to verify this, but research continues to demonstrate that meditation positively influences compassion. With a push for greener businesses, and global business dealing with many different cultures, compassion is an often undervalued but key quality to possess within a successful business.
3 3) A Lot More Focus And Concentration
Mindfulness meditations of the Zen tradition call upon the meditator to focus on a specific object, word or feeling for an extended period of time. The long-term affect of this is that the meditator becomes better at concentration and focus, which as you know is vital for success in a world with many distractions.
When more team members get better at concentration, productivity rises and businesses thrive. There are tasks that can be ruined by poor concentration, and a momentary lapse of concentration has been the reason behind bad mistakes in the business world.
2 Creativity Is Given A Boost
When we are relaxed we see things that we may not have noticed when our mind was running around like a hamster on a wheel. In a meditative state we make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts that lead to changes in the way we do business.
You will likely have heard of the stories inventors who were sitting in quiet reflection, or daydreaming, when their world-changing ideas came to them. These solutions may bring about better working conditions, creative solutions to problems plaguing the bottom line, or revolutionary new products that maximize products for the company.
1 It Sharpens Your Intuition
Eastern philosophy speaks of how the faculty of intuition, your inner compass, becomes heightened through the practice of meditation. Many leading business professionals rely on their intuition to guide them so that they can discern a truth from a lie, know when something doesn't feel right, or know for certain what path to take even when there is no logic to back it up.
In the western world we tend to value intellect more highly and build our education systems around it. Eastern education focuses on developing the innate gift of intuition within each and every one of us. CEOs such as Steve Jobs of Apple, have become more vocal about the value of listening to intuition and how it has lead to guiding some of the best decisions in business.