Meditation training

Meditation in the workplace
In this week’s newsletter I look at how meditation techniques have helped people in the workplace and how some people confuse meditation with other mental states such as sleep or relaxation

Meditation and working well

There have been many studies which indicate that the introduction of a meditation program within the workplace has a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of employees.  There are few studies which investigate the link between these programmes and the financial productivity/performance of the business.  The few that have been run suggest that such programmes would have a significant positive impact on business:

Gustavsson looked at the effects of meditation training on the employees of a Swedish utility company.  The study commenced by introducing a programme to top managers and then gradually to all staff. They found increased levels of trust, team spirit and sharing of information within the team.  One year after the study, improvements in teamwork and other benefits, such as reduced absenteeism, continued to be experienced.

Gottwald & Howald invited 20 employees, from a workforce of 100, to take part in meditation training.  Over the course of the following four years there was a general improvement in the work climate, a reduction in absenteeism and a growth in profits of 300%, (with only a 27% growth in employee numbers).  These findings were confirmed by a similar study in a chemical manufacturer in the US and a mutual fund company in Australia.

Confusion about the “goals” of meditation
The lack of research in this area may be because of the comparatively few organizations offering such training to their employees and also because a general misunderstanding about the point of meditation

Many people perceive that the “goal” of meditation is to deliver intense relaxation, however this state is often one of the occasional side effects of such training.  The goal, if there is one, is to sharpen the mind to enable it to focus on reality as it emerges in the present.  It teaches us to look at reality through fresh eyes rather than through the lenses of past beliefs and future hopes/fears.

Different mental states
The confusion about meditation may arise because of the experience we have had to date – ie eyes closed means a switched off lazy state. Sleeping is a vital time in our day and many of us don’t get enough of it.  Meditation is a state between waking and sleeping/dreaming.  It is a state full of paradoxes:

–       Relaxed intensity
–       Soft reflection, sharp focus
–       Non-thinking and yet allowing thoughts and feelings to emerge and then dissipate like bubbles coming to the surface of a drink

Some of the benefits
When we practice focussing our attention we are better able to do the following:
–       Use our intuition – more about this later
–       Be aware of the emotional signals that other people are sending
–       Zone in to study detailed information whilst retaining the ability to see the bigger picture – tenacious in investigating the detail, but not becoming bogged down
–       It builds resilience – It trains us to be dispassionate about both positive events and difficult challenges.  This does not mean a lack of passion but it cultivates the understanding that highs and lows are inevitable in life and not to fixate on either

Last week we looked at how meditation training disrupted habitual thinking patterns and routines.  Hundreds of occupational psychology studies have demonstrated that employees and organizations that thrive in times of change are those that look at challenges in a fresh light.  Meditation training does not just train us how to relax and not think, it trains us to observe the world with fresh clarity.  After meditation we switch to the thinking state and we feel more engaged and often experience fresh insights.  Insights that are based on smooth dialogue with clients and colleagues. We are better able to feel for solutions using intuition (as noted in an earlier newsletter, the US army are using such methods to locate enemy bases in Afghanistan).

I hope this newsletter stimulates debate in HR departments.  This sort of training should not be about passivity, is not necessarily about spirituality and can deliver significant business improvements for the organization.  And most importantly it helps us create a place of work that we feel we want to be part of, and return to.

Next time before a busy meeting spend just a few minutes focusing on your breath touching the tip of your nose.  Every time thoughts emerge keep returning the attention to the feeling of breathe in and out of the nose.  Feel how cool it is as it comes in and how warm it is as it leaves.  Notice how the breath slows as you focus on it.  Notice how your thoughts lessen and how you are more receptive to ideas when you finish.Meditation in the workplace
In this week’s newsletter I look at how meditation techniques have helped people in the workplace and how some people confuse meditation with other mental states such as sleep or relaxation

Meditation and working well

There have been many studies which indicate that the introduction of a meditation program within the workplace has a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of employees.  There are few studies which investigate the link between these programmes and the financial productivity/performance of the business.  The few that have been run suggest that such programmes would have a significant positive impact on business:

Gustavsson looked at the effects of meditation training on the employees of a Swedish utility company.  The study commenced by introducing a programme to top managers and then gradually to all staff. They found increased levels of trust, team spirit and sharing of information within the team.  One year after the study, improvements in teamwork and other benefits, such as reduced absenteeism, continued to be experienced.

Gottwald & Howald invited 20 employees, from a workforce of 100, to take part in meditation training.  Over the course of the following four years there was a general improvement in the work climate, a reduction in absenteeism and a growth in profits of 300%, (with only a 27% growth in employee numbers).  These findings were confirmed by a similar study in a chemical manufacturer in the US and a mutual fund company in Australia.

Confusion about the “goals” of meditation
The lack of research in this area may be because of the comparatively few organizations offering such training to their employees, and also a general misunderstanding about the point of meditation

Many people perceive that the “goal” of meditation is to deliver intense relaxation, however this state is often one of the occasional side effects of such training.  The goal, if there is one, is to sharpen the mind to enable it to focus on reality as it emerges in the present.  It teaches us to look at reality through fresh eyes rather than through the lenses of past beliefs and future hopes/fears.

Different mental states
The confusion about meditation may arise because of the experience we have had to date – ie eyes closed means a switched off lazy state. Sleeping is a vital time in our day and many of us don’t get enough of it.  Meditation is a state between waking and sleeping/dreaming.  It is a state full of paradoxes:

–       Relaxed intensity
–       Soft reflection, sharp focus
–       Non-thinking and yet allowing thoughts and feelings to emerge and then dissipate like bubbles coming to the surface of a drink

Some of the benefits
When we practice focussing our attention we are much better able to do the following:
–       Use our intuition – more about this later
–       Be aware of the emotional signals that other people are sending
–       Zone in to study detailed information whilst retaining the ability to see the bigger picture – tenacious in investigating the detail, but not becoming bogged down
–       It builds resilience – It trains us to be dispassionate about both positive events and difficult challenges.  This does not mean a lack of passion but it cultivates the understanding that highs and lows are inevitable in life and not to fixate on either

Last week we looked at how meditation training disrupted habitual thinking patterns and routines.  Hundreds of occupational psychology studies have demonstrated that employees and organizations that thrive in times of change are those that look at challenges in a fresh light.  Meditation training does not just train us how to relax and not think, it trains us to observe the world with fresh clarity.  After meditation we switch to the thinking state and we feel more engaged and often experience fresh insights.  Insights that are based on smooth dialogue with clients and colleagues. We are better able to feel for solutions using intuition (as noted in an earlier newsletter, the US army are using such methods to locate enemy bases in Afghanistan).

I hope this newsletter stimulates debate in HR departments.  This sort of training should not be about passivity, is not necessarily about spirituality and can deliver significant business improvements for the organization.  And most importantly it helps us create a place of work that we feel we want to be part of, and return to.

Next time before a busy meeting spend just a few minutes focusing on your breath touching the tip of your nose.  Every time thoughts emerge keep returning the attention to the feeling of breathe in and out of the nose.  Feel how cool it is as it comes in and how warm it is as it leaves.  Notice how the breath slows as you focus on it.  Notice how your thoughts lessen and how you are more receptive to ideas when you finish.

Posted on July 5, 2012, in Coaching, Meditation etc. and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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