Meditation will soon become common in the workplace.
Just like the yoga boom that convinced suburban mothers everywhere that they need expensive yoga pants to stretch, meditation will soon demonstrate its value in the corporate world. And everyone will buy it.
Whether it’s through applications or group workshops, leadership will pay to have its employees practicing mindfulness meditation. Because there are many benefits of meditation, including: improved concentration and focus, better emotional awareness and emotional intelligence, and most importantly, increased productivity.
Each of these benefits in and of themselves would be valuable to employers. But when all of them are combined–there’s absolutely no reason to avoid prioritizing this invaluable practice.
As a coach and licensed therapist who frequently teaches clients how to reap the benefits of this ancient practice, one of the biggest barriers I’ve seen preventing people from engaging in a consistent meditation routine are cultural myths about mindfulness.
Read the list of myths below to discover what you really need to attain the many benefits of meditation.
1. Myth: You can practice meditation occasionally and reap the benefits.
Yes, you can notice something about your experience from meditating a few times. But to reap the most significant benefits of meditation, you need consistency. Just like dieting, the number of calories you eat each day doesn’t really matter if you aren’t consistent. Eating 2,000 calories on day one doesn’t matter if you eat 10k on day two.
If you practice meditation consistently, say 10 minutes each day for at least one week, you’ll start noticing important changes.
2. Myth: The goal of meditation is to completely eliminate all thoughts.
Sometimes we get the image of a monk sitting in stillness for days when we think of meditation. And that image simply isn’t true for a beginner. Mindfulness-based meditation is about being aware (mindful) of your experience–noticing your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations–not eliminating it.
Instead of getting frustrated when you notice yourself thinking, try labeling it as “thinking” and then returning to your object of focus–your breath, mantra, or something else.
3. Myth: Mindfulness meditation can only occur in complete silence.
Learning mediation in a peaceful environment may be conducive to your grasping the simplicity and depth of the practice. However, you can practice mindfulness meditation anytime, anywhere.
In fact, I recommend trying to practice mindfulness when you’re eating, cooking, driving, talking to someone, or doing anything else that does not require you to use your thinking mind.
4. Myth: You should always feel calm during and after meditation–and if you don’t, it’s a failure.
Pump the breaks. Anytime you find yourself thinking that you are “failing,” or “doing it wrong,” that’s ego. Observe those thoughts. Those thoughts are not you–you are not a failure, you are merely witnessing what’s happening in your experience. Return to your breath.
Sometimes silence and feelings of peacefulness accompany our meditations, and sometimes they do not. Forget about the outcome and focus on the process.
5. Myth: Meditation is difficult and uncomfortable.
If you’re finding mindfulness meditation difficult, I recommend either decreasing the amount of time or simply allowing it to be difficult. There’s nothing to do or fix in meditation, there’s only each breath.
Don’t overly attach yourself to the results or try too hard to concentrate–just allow what is to be.
6. Myth: There isn’t enough time to meditate.
Like most of my busy clients, I understand that it can be difficult to make time for something as simple as sitting in silence. However, the benefits I listed above are real. And they take practice to embody. If you know that meditating will make you a better person–which it will–then you need to prioritize it.
Paradoxically, once you start meditating on a consistent basis, you realize how much time during the day you are not mindful and self-aware. You then realize how much time you actually have to meditate. And that’s how you start becoming more and more efficient with your time.
7. Myth: Meditation is a spiritual or religious practice.
You don’t have to be spiritual or religious to benefit from mindfulness meditation. In fact, checking in and noticing your thoughts, feelings, and bodily experiences is one of the most valuable things we can do as humans. It can help you build compassion for others and improve your self-awareness throughout each day.
Meditation doesn’t just improve your concentration, self-awareness, and productivity, it also improves your presence–your ability to show up in the world. The more mindful and grounded you are in each interaction, the deeper your connections and the better you can hear and be heard by others.
Above all else, my hope for meditation entering the workplace is that it isn’t just a company policy for employees, but that leadership starts practicing too.
We can all improve our self-awareness and our ability to deeply and compassionately connect to our experience. In doing so, we improve ourselves and our interactions with others.
Employees need that. Employers need that. And the world needs that.