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Meditation in Business: Mindfulness training can help meditator cut losses

by Andrew Hafenbrack and Zoe Kinias

Practice more than just a passing management fad as it can play role in decision-making and bring changes to emotions and behaviour

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that cultivates awareness of the present moment and clears the mind of other thoughts, often accomplished by non-judgmentally focusing attention on the physical sensations of breathing or other experience as it occurs.

Top-level managers appear to be highly interested in mindfulness at the moment, as evidenced by recent sessions on meditation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and a cover story about mindfulness in Time magazine.

Chief executives of major companies such as Ford Motor, Salesforce.com and Tupperware have publicly touted the benefits of meditation. Organisations as varied as Google and the United States military have instituted internal mindfulness-based training programmes for their employees.

Meditation … reduced negative emotion [and] facilitated [the] ability to let go of sunk costs

At Insead – in Singapore and abroad – professors incorporate meditation into executive and MBA courses.

Although there is a risk that some may write off mindfulness as pop psychology or a management fad, it is more than that.

The practice dates back more than 2,000 years to the Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism, and Western clinical psychologists have used secular mindfulness meditation training to effectively combat anxiety and depression for several decades.

There are many articles in academic journals, particularly in the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, that document the benefits of meditation.

Meditating regularly increases how much people habitually focus on the present moment relative to the past and future at times when they are not meditating, a tendency psychologists call trait mindfulness.

Research has linked increased trait mindfulness to increased positive emotions and decreases in several forms of negative emotion, such as rumination, depression, anxiety and anger.

Previous research has also found evidence of other benefits, linking greater trait mindfulness to decreased substance abuse, improved psychological functioning, increased self-control, decreased overconfident gambling, decreased distraction from the task at hand and improved test performance.

Recent research has also found that even a single eight to 15-minute session of focused-breathing mindfulness meditation can cue a brief state of mindfulness, which leads to changes in emotions and behaviour immediately afterwards.

For example, a state of mindfulness has been found to reduce short-term negative emotions, distraction from the task at hand and the impact of negative information on attitudes and persistence.

Illustration: Henry WongOur research team examined the idea that a short state of mindfulness could improve decision-making by helping people cut losses sooner.

In other words, we were interested in whether mindfulness meditation could reduce what economists call the sunk-cost fallacy or the sunk-cost bias, which is the tendency to continue an endeavour after having already invested time, effort or money.

We collaborated with Professor Sigal Barsade from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania on a research article that appeared in the February issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Our key finding is that mindfulness meditation increased resistance to the sunk-cost bias, and this occurred in a two-step process.

First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion. The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs.

Our findings can help managers and businesspeople, because there are so many cases in which the sunk-cost bias can destroy value.

For example, people often hold on to losing investments for too long. Businesses often continue with projects even when the costs increase dramatically or their product is less unique or marketable than it initially appeared.

Governments often continue fighting wars they know they cannot win. Managers can be reluctant to fire massively underperforming employees who they hired with great expectations.

In all of these cases, resources are wasted that could have been used more productively in another endeavour, whether that is a more promising investment or project, peacekeeping efforts, or a new hire who is a better fit for the organisation.

Our advice is that when people need to make decisions about whether to change course, that is a great moment to step back, clear one’s mind by meditating, and approach the decision again.

A potentially helpful question to ask oneself is: “Would I continue this endeavour because I truly think it is the best decision in light of all available evidence or because I am reluctant to let go after having invested so much?” As to how to briefly meditate, there are many excellent free recorded meditations available online, such as those from freemindfulness.org

There are also meditation classes and trainers in all major cities and excellent books on the subject by Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

More broadly, our findings suggest that even people with little experience meditating can use mindfulness meditation in small doses at times when they need it, such as when experiencing excessive negative emotions or stress, or when thinking too much about the past or future.

For these reasons, mindfulness should be more than a passing fad, and instead a tool people keep at their disposal for use when it can be helpful.

People and corporations should seriously consider the role mindfulness meditation can play in mental and emotional well-being, task performance and decision-making.

Andrew Hafenbrack is a doctoral candidate in organisational behaviour and Zoe Kinias an assistant professor of organisational behaviour at Insead.

Why Google, Facebook and Twitter Execs Are Meeting With a Monk

In an age when we’re constantly being distracted, being able to focus is the golden goose.

We may thank technology platforms like Twitter and Facebook for shrinking our attention spans down to nanoseconds, but the executives of those selfsame companies know that to grow their businesses, they need to put a priority on focus.

 

At the Wisdom 2.0 conference being hosted in San Francisco next month, a group of tech heavyweights will come together with yoga practitioners, mindfulness specialists and even a Benedictine monk to learn how to work and live within the demands of technology more effectively.

Related: 10 Trends for 2014: We Seek Imperfect, Human Moments. With Our Smartphones at the Ready.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and Huffington Post CEO Arianna Huffington are on the roster of speakers along with top executives from Twitter, Facebook, Google, Instagram and LinkedIn. Also on the 2014 speaker rundown is Eckhart Tolle, the spiritual teacher and author of New York Times best seller The Power of Now.

The annual conference, which attracted 350 attendees when it was first held five years ago, is expected to attract 2,000 attendees this year. The conference runs February 14 through 17 and tickets range from $500 to $1,500 depending on how early you reserve a spot.

Related: Let Go, Keep it Simple, Move Quickly: Secrets to Being a Productive Entrepreneur (Infographic)

The growing interest in the conference mirrors a growing trend in our relationship with technology: As we become increasingly dependent on mobile devices and social networks, we struggle to not feel controlled by them. These questions and struggles pervade both our personal and professional lives, but business leaders and executives at the Wisdom 2.0 conference will specifically address how to perform more efficiently in the workplace.

For example, last year, Gopi Kallayil, the chief evangelist for Google+, talked about how to integrate the fundamentals of a yoga-practice to be a more productive professional. Kallayil, who was born in India and grew up practicing yoga, has five fundamental rituals that he implements in every single day: focus on the essential, do one thing at a time, take time to listen to your own body’s needs, make at least one minute for mindfulness each day and set appointments for the activities that will help you stay mindful.

 

Buddhist practises with monks have become key feature of employee training in most cos – Economic Times

(The vision behind wisdom…)

The un informed visitor at Googleplex may find himself perplexed when he sees the presentation room filled with techies perched in half-lotus position, meditating. His confusion is justified since it is hard to imagine that the corporation that prides itself in thinking ahead of tomorrow is now looking back at centuries-old traditions to bring out the best in its employees.

Google is embracing Buddhist meditative practices in a big way. Zen masters and monks routinely tour the campus, the company has instituted self-awareness courses like Search Inside Yourself, Neural Self-Hacking and Managing Your Energy, designed to teach people to manage their emotions through meditation, and Googlers are signing up for these classes in droves.

No, Google isn’t renouncing its worldly searches. Quiet contemplation is the new buzzword in Silicon Valley, with the region’s heavyweights like Twitter and Facebook jumping aboard the neo-spiritual bandwagon.

Contemplative practices and meditation sessions has become key features of employee training in most firms. As in all things in the Valley, the centuries-old practices has been innovated to suit the Valley’s goal-oriented culture. Forget Nirvana, the not-so-lofty aim of these endeavours is all about training the brain to unleash productivity.

Research suggests that meditation can rewire the brain’s response to stress and helps improve memory and executive functions. Exercises in ‘ mindfulness’ – paying close, nonjudgmental attention – help understand a coworkers’ motivations and cultivate emotional intelligence. In the hyper-kinetic Silicon Valley, these self-regulation practices strengthen emotional resilience, and is a better coping mechanism than fast-food therapy.

Chade-Meng Tan, a Google employee and creator of the Search Inside Yourself programme, defines it as the Zen of Google. The course is a series of meditation exercises wrapped in the package of emotional intelligence. “The other-centricity that meditation breeds can boost your trajectory,” says Meng ,who believes that in a place like Google, where there is no dearth of high intelligence quotient, the differentiating factor that sets you apart from the rest is having high emotional intelligence.

Frustrated by his divorce, work stress and twitter addiction, Soren Gordhamer wrote a book – Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected. The book was no bestseller, but its message of living mindfully, wisely and compassionately in the digital age set off ripples of introspection in the tech community that culminated in the launch of the annual conference Wisdom 2.0.

The event serves as a connector of the technology and contemplative communities. The vision behind wisdom being, tapping our inner wisdom even as we integrate more and more technology into our lives, and keep them from taking over.

Wisdom 2013 drew huge crowds and the attendees included headliners like Jeff Weiner, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, and, Arianna Huffington, who describes the event as her version of Disneyland.

Meditation therapy is growing deep roots in the Valley which is no stranger to New Age fad cycles. The tech biz is taking periodic pauses in the rat race, trying to connect the dots between spirituality and technology, to find the bigger picture.

Global India Newswire

via Buddhist practises with monks have become key feature of employee training in most cos – Economic Times.

Robert Piper: Why Every CEO in America Should Be Encouraging Meditation in the Work Place

Ingrained into the fabric of America is the idea that we have to be the best. There’s nothing wrong with that idea; this is a country that gave birth to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and even put a man on the moon.

However, stress is beating us up really badly. It’s just destroying us. The World Health Organization estimates that stress is costing America businesses up to $300 billion a year. Benjamin Franklin once said, “A small leak can sink a great ship.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to suggest that meditation is needed in the workplace. We have the stats; we have decades of research from some of the brightest minds in America behind it. If you’re a CEO of a company you need to, “Make it happen.”

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that there are over 3,000 studies on the positive benefits of meditation. Meditation is legitimately America’s next push-up; it builds emotional resilience, happiness, and a positive outlook on life. Why isn’t every CEO in America encouraging this in the work place?

I think some of the road blocks to the wide-spread acceptance of meditation in America has to do with some of the myths attached to it. There are a lot of myths — like you need a meditation space, a meditation pillow, certain beliefs, etc. You might have read about Buddhist monks that have done over 10,000 hours of meditation; well I’ve also done well over 10,000 hours of meditation.

I do several hours of meditation a day; I consider it a positive marathon exercise for the mind. I do it because I think it’s a great tool for happiness and a resilient mind. And I can tell you that you don’t need to purchase a fancy meditation cushion to reap the benefits of meditation.

I’m a former frat boy who used a pillow as a meditation cushion for years; I purchased it for a few dollars at a convenient store during my college days. I still go out on the weekends, watch sports on TV, and listen to Bloomberg radio. My meditation space is my family room and consists of a 47 inch flat screen TV (I wanted to get a 57 inch put it wouldn’t fit), two couches and a picture of John F. Kennedy on the wall. I have never burned incense in my meditation space.

From my own experience, I can tell you that meditation has actually made me want to engage in positive conversations with as many people as possible. I actually try to seek out conversations with different types of people because it makes me happier. It also makes you totally resilient because you’re able to separate from your emotions.

Physical exercise has been a major staple of American culture, and it has been shown to reduce stress. I do cardio several times a week, but I can sometimes understand we don’t have the time. Meditation is something that can easily fit into our busy schedules.

Most importantly, meditation can be done right in your office chair. Here’s a simple meditation:

1. Sit in your office chair and bring your attention inward to your breathing.
2. Trying to focus your attention on your heartbeat.
3. Take a deep inhale.
4. Exhale out.
5. Repeat the steps above and try to keep this calm mind with you for the rest of the day.
6. You can come back to this practice at any time throughout the day.

America is one of the greatest countries in the world because we take what works the best and disregard the rest. I think we should take a few minutes a day to pause, reflect and do some meditation in our office chair.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

Follow Robert Piper on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rgpiper

Robert Piper: Why Every CEO in America Should Be Encouraging Meditation in the Work Place.

 

Why Mindfulness and Meditation Are Good for Business – Knowledge

You don’t need a personal guru or a trip to India to bring you inner peace. Perhaps you simply need to learn from Mirabai Bush, co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. Bush has worked with several businesses to teach people about the benefits of meditation and contemplative thinking. She has helped individuals improve their listening skills, their teamwork abilities and their anger management at corporations such as Google, Monsanto and Hearst. In addition, Bush has worked with non-profits, lawyers and educators, among others.

In this interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Bush spoke with Katherine Klein, vice-dean of Wharton’s Social Impact Initiative, to discuss how individuals can bring meditation and “mindfulness” into their everyday lives. (It’s not as difficult as you may think.)

An edited version of the conversation appears below. 

Katherine Klein: The broad topic we want to explore is how businesses, organizations, nonprofits and for-profits turn to contemplative practices, such as meditation. But first, let’s start with the challenge many people face with fitting meditation into their lives.

Mirabai Bush: Pretty much everybody thinks it’s difficult to fit meditation into their lives. But we say, “You’re not too busy to brush your teeth or to eat breakfast.” Once you experience “mindfulness,” which is an umbrella term for meditation and some other practices, you begin to realize its benefits, and then you can incorporate it into your life. Don’t think of it as a big deal, but rather as a short practice each day that really makes a big difference.

We’ve seen all the research on the various benefits — from stress reduction to health and cognitive benefits, including an increase in attention and creativity and so on. So once you begin to practice mindfulness, you begin to think of it as just part of your life. And there are some ways to make it easier to incorporate into your life. First of all, keep it really simple; brief practice is fine. Just focus on your breathing for a few minutes, and each time you’ll be reminded of how calming and quieting it is.

Klein: In addition to meditation, are there other beneficial practices that you think people might want to consider squeezing into their days?

Bush: On The Contemplative Mind website there is The Tree of Contemplative Practices. We designed that tree after talking to people from 80 different organizations that have incorporated some contemplative practices into their work. We simply asked them if they were doing any contemplative practices to calm and quiet the mind and increase awareness. People in businesses, nonprofits, law firms and educational organizations gave us a long list of different practices. I think in the workplace, the practice of “mindful walking” is a good thing [to do] when you’re walking from place to place. Instead of sitting at your desk and focusing on breathing, when walking from place to place — which you’re naturally doing — you can bring your awareness to the sensation of walking.

We once taught mindful walking to a group of environmental canvassers. They were walking from house to house, and in between their appeals to people, they were paying attention to their walking and letting go of all other thoughts. They reported back that they were much more effective because when they got to where they were going, they were fully present in that moment with whoever opened the door. So walking’s a great practice for mindfulness.

Recently we’ve been looking at the practice of looking. In museums or with books of artwork, people do … what is sometimes called “beholding” whatever is in front of them. Just looking at what’s there and letting go of all other thoughts, opinions and pre-judgments can be useful.

Klein: As you speak, I’m struck by the challenge to these practices presented by our cell phones and iPhones. Whenever there’s a moment of pause, we automatically pull out our cell phones.

Bush: Years ago, I lived in a monastery in India. I remember there were always lots of lines for everything. As young Westerners, we were always impatient. I remember one day we were complaining, and a teacher said to us, “Waiting is being.” I still think of that in those situations. We all check our email or Facebook or whatever while we’re waiting. But it’s possible, while waiting, to use that as a way to just calm, quiet and stabilize the mind. That calms and quiets all of our physical systems, as well. Even a few moments of that really helps us to feel better and be more present in the moment.

Klein: Can you tell us about the benefits you’re seeing in the workplace when people engage in mindfulness or contemplative practices? One clear benefit for individuals is that they feel less stressed and sleep better.

Bush: I’ll tell you about some experiences of mine. Let’s start with Google: Chade Meng-Tan wanted to host a mindfulness-based stress reduction class and expected Googlers to sign up. He posted information about the class and nobody signed up. He was very disappointed and wasn’t sure what to do next. Someone encouraged Meng to call me, so we came together and started by looking at who worked at Google. We recognized that Googlers are very young, very smart and very competitive. They come from the top of their class at the best universities and mostly sit in front of their screens. They’re generally really good at algorithms, but needed better self-awareness and better awareness of others. Although they may be great in front of their screens, most of their work involves teamwork. They needed help relating to one another.

Furthermore, Google’s employees are about one-third Chinese, one-third Indian and one-third everybody else, so there were cultural misunderstandings. We recognized that they needed better ways to relate to others and build awareness of others. We could see that the employees would recognize this as well. So we engaged Daniel Goleman, who wrote Emotional Intelligence, and we used the same practices that were being offered in mindfulness-based stress reduction classes, but we emphasized interactive practices. We re-framed the classes to focus on mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Within the first four hours of posting, 140 people signed up. We taught them how to improve their communications with others, we taught them mindful e-mailing and we taught them about dealing with negative emotions. In general, we helped them with communicating and working together in teams. [For more details about the Google program, Search Inside Yourself, see Knowledge@Wharton’s interview with Chade Meng-Tan.]

Klein: I’m intrigued by the idea of dealing with negative emotions. This is obviously a challenge for people. Give me an example of how to cope with this.

Bush: At Google, we started by asking people to remember a time when they were angry and allowed that anger to arise in them. We taught them to be mindful of the sensations in the body as negative emotions arose, and then pause and recognize that they can have various responses to that anger. They can choose to not let the anger drive them, but rather, have awareness of the anger and assess what the options are for response.

Then we asked them, in the beginning, to pause and take a few deep breaths before noticing the sensations in their body. Just that little exercise really helps people to not react immediately to anger and unpleasant emotions. They report that it’s really helpful for their relationships with others.

Klein: So interesting. We’ve heard about Google but I wonder if you have examples from other companies or organizations that you have worked with.

Bush: We did a short, one-day program with the electric company National Grid. They were bringing together all of their diversity officers in the Northeastern [U.S.], and they wanted to do something that would help them appreciate diversity even more among themselves. The program involved people bringing food from their family traditions. We did some mindfulness practices to help people become calmer, quieter and more stable when they arrived.

We did a practice called “just like me.” This was one of the first times that I did this practice with a business group, and these were very mainstream, corporate people. We had them stand in two lines facing a partner across from them. The person who was guiding the practice started by saying various phrases and then [asked participants] to repeat them silently [to themselves while] looking into the eyes of the other person. You can see that the person across from you is a human being with thoughts and emotions, just like you. The guide goes on to say, “This person has been sad in his life, just like me. This person has done things he regrets, just like me.” And then it goes through a range of things. “This person wants to be loved, just like me.”

I took part as well. The person across from me was a regional manager from Buffalo, N.Y. He was wearing a suit and tie. He was a white, working class, Buffalo guy. When the practice was over, it was so touching. I just thought, “Oh my God, I’m going to have to stay with this person forever. I’m in love with him. I’m never going to be able to leave him.” It was really powerful.

Now we do this practice with lots of different kinds of groups. I did it last week with a group of university professors. It’s very powerful. It’s all about compassion, which is so helpful when you’re working with difficult people. Once you do this practice, then you can do it silently to yourself before you go into a meeting, or as you’re listening to someone whom you’re having a hard time with. You can think, “This person wants to be happy just like me.”

We also worked with Monsanto in the late 1990s, when they had a new CEO and they were making their shift toward agriculture. Bob Shapiro was their new director. He was a really creative thinker, and he had just inherited this 100-year-old chemical company. He wanted to see what they ought to be doing for the future. (I’m reserving judgment on their decision.) He was interested in the creativity of his top executives. He invited us for a retreat with the top 18 executives, and we did a four-day, three-night silent retreat off-site.

Klein: Wow.

Bush: Yes. It was really intense. I can only imagine a few corporate groups committing to that. But Bob was a real risk-taker, and it was very powerful. After that, for several years, we did off-site retreats and on-site day-long programs. They put meditation rooms in many of their buildings.

In terms of feedback, the vice president of organizational management development said this: “The most noticeable change in the largest group, which included scientists and some of the foundation team, was a shift from cynicism to hope. When people talk about what happened to them or how it’s changed them, they talk about how they went from being negative, pessimistic and cynical to being hopeful, being more centered.”

There’s another quote from a project coordinator. He said, “Mindfulness helps clear all the chatter that goes on constantly in your head, and you begin to find out what’s real for you in your life. What makes this program so great is that it can effect long-term evolution in individuals, and therefore, in the organization. It’s provided more purpose and meaning to what I’m doing at work.”

Klein: That’s great. But when I think about meditation, most of it focuses on the individual. When you encounter organizational issues, should you focus on helping the individuals or should you focus on teamwork techniques?

Bush: Well, yes — either or both. For example, when we worked with employees at Marie Claire, they were stressed. These are young women in New York in a very competitive world, working against deadlines all the time. They were all stressed. Our program focused on individual mindfulness meditation to achieve a calmer state. While this was very individually focused, they did it as a group. They came together once a week for two hours and were led in practice by someone. Even though we didn’t emphasize the group dynamic, people appreciated each other more. They felt a deeper bond because they were going through something together. Being there and going through this process with other people and knowing that they’re doing the same thing and they’re feeling vulnerable helped build an appreciation of other people.

But then there are also ways to work with teams. At Google, we paired people off for listening exercises, and they would mindfully speak and listen to each other. People were instructed to let go of other thoughts and emotions as they would listen to the speaker. Then we’d sit in a circle and discuss the experience of listening and speaking in pairs. People revealed that they usually didn’t listen in that way, and they hadn’t realized how much judgment was going on when they were listening. This can give you an appreciation for how these practices can affect a group process.

Klein: I want to go back to your discussion of Monsanto. You mentioned the positive benefits of mindfulness and contemplative practice. But I wonder if this leads people to make different decisions as a company.

Bush: Yes. That’s the big question, of course. Monsanto is a great case study for that. We worked with Monsanto for four years and during that time they became really involved in genetically modified foods. The environmental movement was revving up in response to this, and we were, at the same time, working with the Green Group, which was a group of CEOs of national environmental organizations. We were working with two groups that were radically opposed to one another. Our job was simply to teach these groups practices related to questioning, mindfulness and inquiry. This helped people look at the connection or lack of connection between personal and corporate values.

Inside Monsanto they were studying population predictions for the next century, and they really felt that they were going to contribute to increasing yields and feeding the world for the 21st century. It was hard for them to entertain that what they were doing wasn’t a good thing. But after a while, they were getting so much resistance that Bob Shapiro decided to invite the president of the Rockefeller Foundation to their board meeting. At this point, the Rockefeller Foundation was leading some of the research and the resistance to the development of genetically modified foods.

They had a long discussion at their board meeting, which led to some changes within Monsanto. It obviously didn’t lead to the end of their commitment to genetically modified foods. But at the time, it led them to let go of some of what Rockefeller considered their worst practices. [The president of the Rockefeller Foundation] convinced them that if they didn’t let go of this one terrible product, which I think was labeled “terminator technology,” everything else that they were doing would be “tarred with the same brush.” He convinced them that it was to their own advantage to let go of what he considered the worst product. Ultimately, Monsanto became more open to listening to opposing arguments and different perspectives. I saw a movement toward that while I was working with them. So yes, I saw changes.

Unfortunately for us, Bob stepped down as CEO, and somebody else came in. The new CEO did away with anything that had to do personally with the former CEO. He got rid of our program. But all these years later, I still see people who say that the program really changed them and that they took those benefits with them wherever they went in the corporate world.

After that, we did a rethink about our work in the corporate world, and we focused on a number of smaller programs. It wasn’t until Google came along that I really felt like there was an opportunity to do a company-wide program that really could have a big effect, which I think it is doing.

Klein: I have one final question. Early in the interview, I jotted down some words that you mentioned. You said something about “non-judgmental presence.” On the one hand, I think the notion of non-judgmental presence is important, and it’s linked to listening and compassion. But at the same time, you’re working with people who need to make judgments and decisions. I was struck by that duality of non-judgment and judgment. Can you expand on this?

Bush: I think it is the hardest thing to grasp. This is very philosophical. The present moment is here. It’s here in front of us. It is what it is. The important thing in mindfulness is to see the present moment as it is and not to bring pre-judgment to it.

To explain my point, let me give an example relating to some work we’ve done with lawyers. A group of judges asked us to do a special workshop on mindfulness and emphasizing non-judgmental awareness. They wanted to do this because they said that when people arrived in front of the bench, they would find that their minds leapt to judgment based on people’s appearance, and they knew they shouldn’t be doing that.

This example relates to business because it’s about seeing the situation as it is. It’s about making decisions without … pre-conceived notions. It doesn’t mean that we don’t make judgments, choices and decisions. It’s about making better choices by seeing what’s actually there in front of us.

Another important issue relates to distraction, which is increasing all the time with our advances in electronic information. Mindfulness really increases our attention and takes us beyond distraction. Distraction keeps us from being productive, and I think it leads us to not look deeply at situations, to stay at the superficial level. Mindfulness will help us stay focused on what really matters and help us make better decisions for the future.

Why Mindfulness and Meditation Are Good for Business – Knowledge@Wharton.

 

Meditation Is the New Yoga: Bringing Mindfulness Into the Workplace | Amped | Big Think

This embrace of meditation is being driven by vocal proponents who claim that regular meditation can improve the immune system, cure depression, boost memory, regulate emotions, and even change the structure of the brain.

Hari Kaur is an internationally renowned Kundalini teacher and author of two books on meditation and yoga (as well as a member of our Influencer Advisory Board). She explains why meditation is blossoming in popularity at this moment in time:

“Meditation is both a conscious act and a refinement of what is possible with our brains and our minds and bodies. We have figured out about every possible way to exercise; the next frontier is our minds. There will be a movement towards meditation that will include the simplest to the most complex ways of ‘getting the most’ from our brains. The way we might get the most from our brains so we can handle the technological era is to meditate to become still – to dump our subconscious burden, to learn to light up the happy hormones and experience the balance to this existence.”

Far from being a fringe pastime, meditation is being used by a large cross section of society. The United States Marines have introduced a program called Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (or “M-Fit”), which trains soldiers in mindfulness and meditation in order to improve mental performance and emotional health during combat situations. “Mindful Leadership” is an initiative at General Mills that mixes sitting meditation, yoga and mindfulness practices to settle and focus the mind. Google, Target and Aetna all have similar programs. Surprisingly, Aetna discovered that an hour a week of this type of practice decreased stress levels in employees by a third, slashing healthcare costs per employee by around $2,000 per year.

At sparks & honey, we’ve also taken this idea to heart, regularly practicing in-office yoga and encouraging meditative breaks in our “digital detox zone.”

How can you take baby steps into the world of meditation and integrate it into the hectic environment of the modern workplace? Here are two ideas:

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Walking Meditation: One of the simplest ways to relax your mind and become more mindful is to take a break and go for a short walk. Whether around the office or around the block, simply walking, breathing and staying mindful and focused on the present moment can have a lasting effect.

Breathing: Taking five minutes out of your day and quietly focusing on your breath while letting go of mental and physical stress can help to improve focus, aid in relaxation and clear your mind of clutter.

Hari suggests that if you truly want to reap the benefits of meditation, you’ll need to treat it as an essential part of your life:

“Set aside time daily and make it a priority to meditate. Just as you would attend to your appearance, develop a commitment to attend to your inner world. Schedule your meditation practice as if you were scheduling any other appointment or client. Add it to your calendar [and] keep the appointment with yourself. Find techniques that match your lifestyle and personality type. Techniques that inspire you to continue. There are many different styles and techniques of meditation. If you feel the call to meditate and grow and heal, search for the right teacher, the right technique and don’t give up.”

To learn more about the explosion of Conscious Media and the mindset of the new conscious consumer, please download our white paper or our Deep Dive Report on Oneness.

If you would like to go deeper and understand how your company can sync with the Conscious Consumer market, please get in touch with us at info@sparksandhoney.com.

via Meditation Is the New Yoga: Bringing Mindfulness Into the Workplace | Amped | Big Think.