Meditation. An odd word to associate with business? Maybe not. Through our work, we’ve met with many companies that want to integrate it into their workplace, while others are already offering meditation classes, such as Yahoo!, Google, Morgan Stanley, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
But how does something as seemingly benign as sitting in silence help a business to operate more efficiently and creatively, or to make the changes necessitated by new trends?
Let’s consider the things that make all business changes difficult:
The Need to Be Real
When we work with corporations and coach CEOs, we often see how a gap between our professional and personal selves can grow due to stress. But if our inner needs are not expressed, this can lead to the development of masks, a lack of fulfillment, relationship failure, and isolation. The corporate climate needs to reflect our internal climate, as a lack of authenticity limits the inner resources we bring to our job.
The Need to Make Smart Decisions
In any business environment, there is an ingrained push to succeed – quickly! Many problems are due to the speed at which decisions are made or actions are taken. We’re required to think of a million things simultaneously. As a result, we tend to have an overworked “monkey mind,” when our thoughts are all over the place, not alighting anywhere long enough to make an impact. No wonder so many poor decisions are made when the monkey is in charge!
The Need to Think Together
When we’re not mindful and present in the moment, we are unlikely to realize how much we need to work together – that we are interdependent. It’s important to remember that we are all human, and humans make mistakes. It’s okay to be who we are. At the same time, we each have something very unique to offer.
Weird and Wacky? Maybe Not
Meditation helps us to fill these needs, and a lot more. Yes, many businesspeople think of meditation as being a bit “out there,” and even the word “mindfulness” may be confusing. But being mindful simply means paying attention – to our relationships, communication, and presence. While working with corporations, we find that their unfamiliarity with meditation demands a new approach, so we created the term “silent space.” This is instantly understandable and makes the experience far more accessible.
This is a far cry from being weird and wacky! Rather, it speaks of greater lucidity, efficacy, and adaptability. Many workplace issues can cause stress, yet all of us have the ability to grow and change. We just need to be relaxed and at ease within ourselves to access that ability.
A New Way to Measure Success
Bringing meditation, relaxation, and visualization into the workplace decreases stress and clears the mind. It increases focus and concentration, develops skillful ways of dealing with issues, and inspires ways to solve problems. With just a few minutes of silence, you can gain:
• Clarity of thinking
• Increased efficiency
• Greater perspective
• Better listening skills
• Improved health through greater relaxation
• A stronger sense of self and purpose
• Awareness of our interconnectedness, leading to kindness, compassion, and altruism
Using “Silent Space” at Work
Picture the first few minutes of most of the meetings that take place at your company. Usually, people rush in checking phone messages, setting up laptops, or continuing conversations from the hallway. It’s pretty chaotic. How can we expect people to stop, concentrate, and bring their whole selves to a meeting when it begins like that?
We recommend starting your meetings with two or three minutes of silence. No one has to do anything odd – just breathe naturally and be quiet. In this way, when they start focusing on the meeting, they are more relaxed and ready to do their best work.
In essence, meditation is just calming our mind while being fully in the moment. Entering into silence with ourselves invites us to be truly present with who we are. It helps us relax, yes, but it also creates a space where creativity, solutions to difficulties, and awareness of the bigger picture naturally emerge. It also gives rise to greater joyfulness and a personal happiness that affects both ourselves and those around us. When people are in the present, then magic happens – even in the business world!
Ed and Deb are corporate consultants and personal coaches working with CEOs and senior and middle management. Their award-winning book, Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, includes a foreword by the Dalai Lama. They are regular featured bloggers for Oprah.com and HuffingtonPost.com. They host their own acclaimed radio show, “Going Out of Your Mind.” www.edanddebshapiro.com.