Take a Deep Breath: How Meditation Can Help You at Work

There are plenty of steps you can take to make your work experience a more productive and enjoyable one: hire the right team, work on projects you’re passionate about, create a workspace that inspires creativity, and improve your communication skills.

But there’s one thing you can do that can drastically change your experience at work that you’ve probably never thought about: meditation.

Now, if you’re thinking meditation is reserved exclusively for yogis, you’re wrong. Meditation has gone mainstream in recent years, and for good reason: the physical and emotional benefits are undeniable and just a few minutes a day can drastically change your life – including your life at work.

Here are three ways meditation can help you at work and how to get started with your own meditation practice:

Decrease Stress

There’s a lot of stressful situations going on in the workplace. There are deadlines to be met, client and customer issues to deal with, and constant fires that need putting out. Without the right mindset, it can be easy to get swept up in the stress.

But stress is dangerous. It makes you more likely to act impulsively and lash out at your team. It makes it harder to look at things objectively. It also has serious implications for your health.

If you want to have a positive and productive work experience, you need to keep stress to a minimum. And one of the best ways to do that? Meditation.

Practicing meditation has been shown to lower stress and can also help you better manage stressful situations, which is crucial in the workplace.

Increase Empathy

A large part of achievement in the workplace is being able to deal with people. You need to deal with your team, with your managers, with your customers, with your vendors… no matter what business you’re in, people are a huge part of it. And the better you’re able to deal with people, the better and more productive your business will be.

The key to successfully interacting with people is empathy. Being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and interact with them from a place of understanding is one of the cornerstones of leadership; without it, the people you encounter at work won’t want to do business with you, and your company will suffer.

A recent study from Emory University showed that subjects who practiced meditation regularly had increased activity in the area of the brain associated with empathy. And the more empathy you have, the better you’re able to interact with people – and the more successful you’ll be at work.

Sharpen Memory and Focus

If you want to be productive at work, you need to be sharp as a tack. Being able to concentrate on the task at hand and remember everything that’s going on in your business – where different projects stand, who’s working on what, and where you need to follow up – is crucial.

In other words, a key to success at work is focus and memory.

You know what increases memory and focus?

You guessed it. Meditation.

A recent study performed at the University of Kentucky found that students who meditated performed 10% better on tasks that required attention and concentration than students who didn’t.

Just think of how much better you’d do at work if you performed 10% better than you are right now.

How to Meditate

Perhaps the best part of meditation is that you don’t have to do it for hours every day in order to reap the benefits; in fact, meditation can help you at work in as little as ten minutes a day.

There are plenty of ways to meditate, but if you’re new to the practice, here’s an easy way to get started:

  • Find a quiet place that’s free of distractions and turn off all electronics
  • Sit in a chair with your back straight, palms on your thighs, and feet planted firmly on the floor
  • Close your eyes
  • Breathe deeply; inhale through your nose and exhale through the mouth
  • Bring your attention to your breath
  • When you notice your mind wandering, acknowledge it and bring your attention back to the breath; you’ll have to repeat this multiple times throughout the meditation

That’s it. It’s that simple.

Meditation is a practice that helps to calm your mind, but don’t expect all your thoughts to go silent the second you close your eyes – it doesn’t work that way! Your mind can and will wander multiple times throughout the meditation. And that’s totally fine! It’s all part of the process. When you notice yourself spinning off into thoughts, don’t get mad or frustrated. Just bring your attention back to your breath.

If you find it too difficult to focus solely on the breath, try counting on your inhales and exhales (inhale for 4, exhale for 4).

Start by meditating for five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening, then slowly work your way up until you’re meditating for 30 minutes per day.

Meditation is a simple practice that can completely revolutionize your work – and your life. So what are you waiting for? Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and get started.

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