The Art of Zen in the Office
It can make you calmer, more clear-headed and improve your decision-making ability. It can even boost your immune system ΓÇô and make you more creative. Time you tried mastering the art of Zen in office?
Meditation and mindfulness is becoming something of a trend in Silicon Valley, where companies like Google and Twitter have been encouraging their employees to take time out and contemplate.
But itΓÇÖs not just a tech thing: more traditional organisations like PwC, Transport for London, GlaxoSmithKline and even the Home Office are harnessing the powers of mindfulness to improve the workplace.
So whatΓÇÖs all the buzz about? We look at seven ways a more Zen approach could help you tackle a wide range of office issues.
1. Lower stress levels
One of the key principles of Zen is cultivating calmness. But you donΓÇÖt need the backdrop of a Buddhist temple to find tranquillity during your work day, and thereΓÇÖs no need to sit cross-legged on the floor. In fact, you can do it right now, right where you are.
Setting aside a few minutes for quiet contemplation is an excellent way to combat rising stress levels. In fact, regular meditation has been shown to lower levels of cortisol ΓÇô the hormone associated with stress.
2. Be less rash
Another product of being calmer is that youΓÇÖre less likely to lash out. Buddhist meditation practices can help workers deal with their frustrations and irritations in a calm and rational manner. Best of all, it might help you to take a step back and avoid taking a rash action which could ruin your relationship with a colleague or customer.
According to Patricia G. Barnes, the author of ΓÇ£Transcend Your Boss: Zen and the Difficult WorkplaceΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£Zen and meditation also help workers stop themselves from hitting the send button on a blistering email to the boss.ΓÇ¥
3. Rediscover your motivation
Getting stressed out about all the things you havenΓÇÖt done yet today? It may be time to acquaint yourself with the Buddhist principle of gratitude. Zen Buddhists spend a lot of time being thankful ΓÇô and saying thanks ΓÇô for even the most ordinary everyday things.
Meanwhile, weΓÇÖre so caught up in the to-do list, targets and goals that itΓÇÖs far easier to spot the failures than the successes. Taking a moment each day to take stock of even the smallest achievement can help you to develop a more positive mind-set.
Hopefully, that enthusiasm will translate into your work and the way you approach it each day.
4. Take less sick days
Did you know that regular meditation can bring a whole host of health benefits? ItΓÇÖs known to boost the immune system and can also have a positive impact on psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.
After introducing mindfulness coaching to their employees, Transport for London saw a 71% reduction in absences related to stress, anxiety and depression.
5. Make better business decisions
Meditation involves increasing the ability to be detached and to view oneself and oneΓÇÖs surroundings objectively. By transferring this skill to the workplace, people who practise meditation have been shown to make their decisions based on rational rather than emotional factors.
In other words, theyΓÇÖre more likely to consider the business case and resist giving into their feelings about a situation.
6. Be more productive
What if you could concentrate better and think more clearly at work? By helping you to find focus, this is exactly what meditation does ΓÇô and not just while youΓÇÖre actively meditating. YouΓÇÖll find the benefits carry over into the rest of your workday too.
It can also help to improve memory ΓÇô studies have shown that regular meditation increases activity in the parts of the brain associated with memory and learning. Being able to recall important information quickly could save you a lot of time.
7. Be more creative
ItΓÇÖs not just analytical skills which benefit from contemplative thinking. YouΓÇÖll develop deeper focus and raised awareness of your surroundings, along with increased emotional intelligence ΓÇô all of which adds up to boost your creative abilities too.
And while it wonΓÇÖt turn you into the next Van Gogh overnight, it should help you to bring a more creative approach to problem-solving and other projects in the office.
What do you think? Is Zen in the office a fad ΓÇô or the future of work?