Thich Nhat Hanh

Work Stress: An Email Meditation To Reduce Tension At Your Desk

Checking your overflowing Gmail inbox — or sending out a message to an important business contact — is a pretty surefire way to make your pulse quicken and your mind start racing with worries about deadlines and obligations. In fact, one study actually found that checking and sending email at work can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, and cause levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body to spike.

“People expect us to respond within 24 hours … just handling the amount of email we get can be stressful,” Dr. Lillian Cheung, mindfulness expert and editorial director of The Nutrition Source at Harvard, tells the Huffington Post. “But instead of getting stressed and overwhelmed with emails, I think it’s an opportunity for us to refresh and restore ourselves.”

Taking a moment to perform a short meditation before sending an email can be an easy way to lower your stress levels and integrate mindfulness into your everyday work life. Before sending out your next message, try a simple breathing exercise outlined by Cheung and zen master Thich Nhat Hahn in their book “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.”

After writing an email, stop and take three deep breathes, focusing on each inhale and exhale. You can repeat to yourself, “Breathing in, I thank the power of the Internet. Breathing out, I am fully conscious of my current email actions.” Then, input your recipient and cc-recipient addresses, and click send on the email.

“Not only are you helping yourself to calm down, but you’re also preventing yourself from making mistakes,” says Cheung. “It’s just a moment of pause and it doesn’t take long.”

Read the original instructions from “Savor,” and click here for more ways to de-stress at your desk.

via Work Stress: An Email Meditation To Reduce Tension At Your Desk.


How meditation makes us much nicer people – The Ecologist

New research proves that a spiritual practice, such as meditation, leads to a kinder world. Hazel Sillver explores a number of different types of meditation. Mindfulness increases creativity and reduces stress, depression and loneliness

It is well established that meditation reduces stress and improves concentration, but now researchers have found it affects the way we vote.Last month February 2013 scientists at the University of Toronto published the results of studies that compared the political views of ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’ Americans. Religiousness was defined as ‘devotion to a set of principles or code of conduct’, while the spirituality was termed as ‘a direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we’re all connected.’ First it was found that religious types tend to be conservative and fond of tradition, while spiritual people are more liberal and regard equality and social harmony as important. Then, after inducing a spiritual experience, via guided meditation, the researchers discovered that both groups conservatives and liberals became a lot more liberal in their outlook, expressing inclusive and egalitarian views.

Meditation comes in all shapes and sizes. If you fancy giving it a go, here are four of the most common types practised in the UK:


Metta also known as Metta bhavana and ‘Compassion meditation’ is the practice of cultivating of loving-kindness. It involves sending love from the heart to four people: first to yourself, then someone you love, a neutral person such as a stranger and, finally, somebody you find very difficult. After this, you flood your heart with love and send it out to all beings. A monk practising Metta meditation during neurological research in the US produced the happiest brain waves ever recorded.


Now recommended by the NHS, mindfulness involves observing the inflow and outflow of the breath, in order to still the mind. Thoughts are observed like clouds passing overhead, but not entered into. Over time an ability to exist in the present moment develops, so we are less likely to be swept into thoughts of the past and the future. Research shows that Mindfulness increases creativity and reduces stress, depression and loneliness. The various mindfulness books by Thich Nhat Hanh are highly recommended.


Arguably the easiest form of meditation, the repetition of a sacred word or ‘mantra’ stills the mind by giving it something to focus on. Meditators use a simple word such as ‘peace’ or lengthy mantras, such as the Buddhist ‘Om tare, Tuttare, Ture, Soha’, which is said to bring healing. Many people move their fingers over a bead necklace such as a mala or rosary as they chant, to aid focus. Research shows that mantra meditation can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.


Visualisation involves selecting thoughts that are beneficial, in order to reduce negative thinking patterns. This was the practice used by researchers at the University of Toronto who were investigating how spirituality might affect political views. Participants were asked to imagine themselves in a natural setting and then encouraged to cultivate a feeling of being connected to their environment. Another common visualisation practice is imagining yourself fit and well, if you are ill.

All the meditations above are best performed straight backed with a relaxed jaw and neck, to allow free breathing. Sit cross-legged on the floor or upon a cushion, or sit on a firm chair with feet flat on the floor. Either shut the eyes or let the gaze rest downwards to the floor in front of you. Hazel Sillver is a freelance journalist and a contributor to the Ecologist Green Living section; email:

via How meditation makes us much nicer people – The Ecologist.