Many companies are beginning to recognize the value of mindfulness and meditation as part of general workplace wellness programs. This makes sense — the world of work is stressful with constant demands being made on our time.
The stress associated with doing business can lead to toxic emotions like anger and frustration. Practicing mindfulness aims to limit the impact of these emotions and instill a sense of calm and balance. This can have long-term benefits for everyone in your workplace. This is why companies like Apple, Google, and Deutsche Bank have introduced mindfulness programs.
Mindfulness is originally a Buddhist concept that guides practitioners toward being in the present moment and accepting things without judging them. Some have described it as “alert meditation,” in which you are aware of your thoughts and feelings but have no reaction to them. It’s putting you back in control of your mind.
This differs substantially than an “autopilot” emotional state. Mindfulness experts say that people are in this state most of the time — their thoughts come and go seemingly without order or logic. When you practice mindfulness, you become acutely aware of your thoughts and emotions. You observe them rather than letting them control your state of mind.
Make no mistake about it: stress kills. It’s associated with a variety of harmful medical conditions like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and psychological conditions like depression and anxiety. Numerous surveys demonstrate that people feel more stressed at work in recent years than they ever have before.
The practice of mindfulness can reverse and reduce the impact of stress on your body. Studies have shown that mindfulness contributes to psychological well-being, improves brain and immune system functions, and even makes people more empathetic toward others. It’s also associated with lower medical costs and decreased absenteeism.
Practitioners of mindfulness report a decrease in what they call “toxic emotions,” like anger and jealousy. For example, think about when you interact with a colleague who is furious about being passed over for a promotion. The anger that person expresses becomes attached to you the listener, who then passes it on to someone else, who passes it on to someone else until the whole office is angry! A decrease in toxic emotions breaks this cycle and fosters an emotionally healthier workplace.
This goes beyond people just feeling better. Workplaces with mindfulness programs report higher productivity, improved concentration, increased patience, and increased morale.
There’s no question about it: mindfulness can be a key part of your overall retention strategy. Employees who are happier, work better together, and are healthier will want to stay with your company longer.