Meditation. What does that word conjure up for you when you think about it? Most of us are conditioned to think real meditation means sitting cross-legged on the floor for a period of uninterrupted time, eyes closed, palms resting on our knees facing upward, thumbs touching while chanting ohmmmm. Subscribing to that sole image of meditation will put off people who don’t feel they have the undistracted time to do it, and will definitely deter those of us who don’t consider ourselves to be fully ready to embrace “new age” spiritual practices.
3 Ways to Meditate at the Office
Throw all of that limited thinking out! Meditation really can be for everyone, everywhere, and has too many benefits to be ignored. More research is being done every year about the health benefits to be gained my practicing regular meditation. This article in Forbes discusses a great study that looked at the effects of meditation on our brains which also spills over into psychological benefits as well: “…meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.”
You can do various forms of meditation even when you’re at the office, heck, even when you’re in a meeting.
Here are three ways to meditate at work. Use these whenever you need to de-stress, reconnect with your creativity, find ways to appreciate challenging coworkers, or just become grounded and calm in the moment.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Engaging in mindfulness meditation can truly be done anywhere—alone or in a room full of people. Take a minute to get present. Check in with your senses. Literally notice how you feel physically, emotionally and spiritually. What do you see, smell, hear, taste? What part of your body is touching something? How does the floor feel under your feet?
Now, look around the room and notice three things that are the color blue. For these purposes, any shade of blue will do!
Next, notice three things that are touching your body, including your own body parts touching. Observe for a second how that feels. It could be the soft chair you’re sitting in, how it feels underneath you or against your back. Maybe it’s your hands clasped together, fingers touching. Notice the texture of your fingers. Or maybe you have an elbow resting on a table. Just pick three things to observe any sensations you may feel.
Third, notice three things you can hear. Maybe your own heart beating? Maybe the sound of a coworker on the phone? Perhaps you hear a car honking outside or the steady breeze of central heat and air.
The key is to be intentional and observant. This exercise can be done in as quickly as sixty seconds or it can be repeated several times, choosing different things each round, to bring you back to a centered state of calm.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation
2. Empathy and Diversity Meditation
Make a decision to study people for five minutes, maybe during a team meeting, or in every encounter throughout an entire morning or afternoon. Look for what you can see (physically) and look for what you cannot see (emotionally or intuitively).
Notice what emotions may be showing on someone’s face and tune in to what they may be hiding in their heart. Listen to the words people choose and the way they pronounce them. Without judgment, notice how other facial features are different than yours, or how other bodies are different than your body. Yet essentially, we are all the same.
Remember all you have to do and be today, for yourself and for others. Acknowledge the people who care about you, and who would be concerned if anything happened to you. As important as your life is to you, contemplate how each of us view our lives with the same level of significance. In other words, foster a sincere respect that other people’s worlds to them are just as big as your world is to you.
Notice the peace and calm that sinks into your bones when you can intentionally accept you are just one of millions of important people who all contribute to the harmony we experience together, when we take the time to notice each other sincerely.
“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” ― Ani DiFranco
3. Gratitude Meditation
One of the most magical ways to bring about transformation—whether in the moment or for a lifetime— lies in purposely cultivating a gratitude practice. This meditation can be done in whole or in part, in five minutes or longer, when more time is available.
- Think of three things to be grateful for that are true today, that were not true three years ago. Send your appreciation to each of those circumstances and the people involved.
- Recall a problem that existed in the last five or ten years that is no longer present today, maybe something you thought would never change. Celebrate and give thanks for the growth that came out of that difficulty.
- Find appreciation for a relationship that’s new, or one you’re finally willing and able to release. Receive them or send them away with love.
- Name one area where you have gained greater understanding or insight that you didn’t have three years ago. Observe how this new growth has helped you in your work, in your level of self-care and in your relationships, or anywhere else where you are experiencing a resulting shift.
A gratitude meditation can be sought out anytime and anywhere to transcend our present circumstances and enjoy peace and contentment.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Meditation is for everyone, everywhere! Recently someone told me they can always meditate outside or when lying by a pool but they can’t seem to do it the traditional way. She gets too distracted and wanted to know what she was doing wrong. I told her absolutely nothing! Celebrate your own path to meditation and let go of the belief it has to look like your neighbor’s practice.
Expanding our definition of meditation as a culture will help everyday people achieve a greater sense of daily presence and fulfillment. We as individuals will benefit, as will everyone who crosses our paths. No training or years of practice required and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time each day.
Meditating is as easy as stopping to be where you are and intentionally observing what’s happening inside you or around you. Cheers to your improved well-being at the office and beyond!