People suffer more in imagination than in reality. – Seneca
The mind is one of the most precious things one can cultivate in the present day and foreseeable future. Sharpening its tenacity and emotional control is very important if one wants to live a healthy life. The problem with this notion is that it’s not easy to do it. Let’s imagine an ordinary employee, we will call her Mandy, who works as a financial consultant for the respectable company. She’s very fond of her job but lately has a hard time of organizing her time because she has to work on couple of projects at once and 8 hours a day aren’t enough to cover all of it. To add fuel on fire, her line manager isn’t showing any sympathy either. She comes home and immediately resumes her work for another 4 additional hours. It’s starting to take a toll on her and her family. She doesn’t know how to cope and slowly descends into the state of burnout.
This is a pretty common occurrence in normal circumstances. What about being in the midst of a pandemic like we are now? The world is in a state of a complete lockdown, you can’t go outside casually, you listen to the news each day which are not turning really for the better, you wear a mask wherever you go and on top of all that, you’re worried if someone else will sneeze right at the moment you’re standing in front of them despite being a couple of feet apart. You’re scared and your anxiety levels are rising by the minute. You can feel your cortisol levels in your blood elevating thus causing you enormous stress. There have also been reports of depression rising among people during this crisis and companies taking action to combat it. But how can we handle this? What can an individual do to provide them help?
This is where meditation comes in as a primary solution to return the state of mind to a healthy and peaceful level of being. What is meditation and how can one start practicing it?
What is meditation and how to practice it
Meditation is a technique which we use to focus our attention to a single object or occurrence and thus making the mind clear of any thoughts you might have otherwise. In other words, you deliberately bring your attention and awareness to something and focus on it. You’re mindful of it and mindfulness is one of the most popular meditation techniques there is. It sounds simpler than it is because most people aren’t really aware of how deep in thoughts their mind constantly is. In the above example, Mandy was consumed by her work schedule which ultimately reflected on her private life. Her thoughts caused her anxiety, stress and eventually complete burnout because she didn’t know how to control her well-being. This is exactly what we want, to be in control of our mind because our mind dictates how our behavior will be externally and how it will affect us physically. How do we do in practice?
It’s quite simple. The most popular way to do it is by being aware of your breathing. What you can do is take long deep breaths and focus on them. Focus on your stomach and lungs expanding. Focus on the sound of your inhaling and exhaling. Don’t think; just be aware of your breathing. This will relax your entire body, bring your heartbeat rate to its minimum levels and in turn lower your stress levels. Note that during this session, your thoughts WILL intrude in your mind but don’t be alarmed by that. Just let them pass, don’t judge them and stay focused on the breath. It gets easier each time you do it but the key to it is consistency.
When I first heard about it, I didn’t believe it would have any effect on me as it sounded religious in nature and didn’t have any scientific proof to corroborate any positive claims. But does it have any scientific merit?
How does it help in workplace (and in general)
Meditation proved to have numerous benefits in its usage which positively affected the mind and the body in people. The research shows that it can directly decrease the levels of anxiety, stress, depression and even insomnia in people, the very dark state of mind cocktail we all struggle with at some point in our lives or career. It also has a profound impact on the brain because it improves our concentration and the speed for processing information. If you were wondering about any useful parts for the workplace in terms of performance management, this is it. Think about the positive effects on the business as a whole it would have if the majority of the employees practiced it, or at the very least monitored their state of mind as to not reach the point of no return with stress. The general well-being of the organization as a whole would be off the charts. That’s exactly why mindfulness meditation has started getting traction recently because it is imperative that the individual feels in good health to reach their maximum work potential.
Taking care of oneself has become one of the most important topics in general today. People are more distant than ever because they’re bombarded by multitude of information that occupies their mind but doesn’t benefit them in the way it should. One should be prepared to cope with unforeseen situations, be it in workplace or in general, because that’s the only way they can progress or just be content and satisfied. Meditation isn’t a complete solution which will cure people’s psychological issues but it can help in managing it. Healthier mind of an employee will inevitably make a healthier company.
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