Working professionals across the country are shelving self-improvement books and motivational TED Talks for a new form of self-help: meditation. In 2017, the National Health Interview Survey found that the number of U.S. adults that practice meditation had tripled since 2012.
And the popularity of meditation is no enigma.
Scientific studies have proven that meditation reduces stress, limits anxiety, combats depression, and increases focus. Decreased stress and increased focus have gone hand in hand to help individuals become more productive – therefore increasing their work ethic. So, how exactly does meditation achieve this?
The Need for Discipline
Professional yogis will often tell you that, in order for the effects of meditation to take root in your day-to-day life, you must make it a habit. This means you should meditate daily – or almost daily – in order to truly see the benefits of your practice at work throughout the rest of your day.
This is not unlike learning a new skill at work. In order to become proficient at using certain software or making presentations, you must practice daily. Even dedicating five minutes of your time each day will allow you to develop a new skill into a habit, therefore reaping greater rewards.
The key in both of these scenarios is discipline. If you discipline yourself to meditate for a few minutes daily, you will bring more peace into your day-to-day life. If you discipline yourself to pick up a new skill at work, you’re sure to improve your job performance and maybe even earn a promotion, raise, or bonus.
The Ability to Focus
There are many misconceptions floating around about what meditation truly is. Most people believe that meditation requires you to sit and clear your mind of all thoughts during that time. This could not be more false. As humans, it is impossible to empty our mind of thoughts. Meditation teaches you to work around your thoughts.
Rather than getting roped into endless thought cycles, meditation encourages you to acknowledge your thoughts for what they are without lending them any emotional power. By focusing on the breath, your thoughts fall by the wayside.
At work, focus is needed to complete our various projects and tasks. However, we rarely have the ability to sit in a completely quiet office free of distractions. The chatter from co-workers, humming of the coffee machine, and bustle of outside traffic during work hours are like the incessant thoughts in our head during meditation. It’s impossible to drown them out, so rather, we must learn to sharpen our focus and work around them.
The Patience to Sit
As long as we have a distraction in front of us, like a TV or computer, we can sit for hours. However, when we’re made to sit quietly with our eyes closed for a few minutes, the restlessness can take over. Patience is a must in meditation, and in our careers.
Patience is a price to pay for a greater reward. In meditation, the patience to sit is rewarded with greater inner peace, and a healthier mind and body.
In our jobs, patience is a price to pay for recognition, which typically comes in the form of promotions, raises, etc. When we’re rushing to our next goal at work, we give less attention to the current goals at hand, causing us to exhibit decreased job performance.
Furthermore, patience allows us to be more detail-oriented. When we rush through a task, we’re more likely to make mistakes, whereas progressing through it patiently allows us to fulfill it to the best of our abilities.
Incorporating Meditation into the Workplace
Many employers are bringing health-based programs into the workplace. If you are an employer who senses a need to boost employee morale, introducing daily 5-minute meditation sessions could make a massive difference in improving work ethic.
Meditation has been shown to improve productivity, therefore boosting work ethic. In fact, a Detroit-based chemical plant exhibited the following results three years after implementing a workplace meditation program:
- 85% less absences
- 120% increase in productivity
- 70% decrease in injuries
- 520% increase in profits
Bringing meditation into the workplace on an individual level works too, however. Many smartphone meditation apps feature five minute guided meditations you can easily do at your desk or during breaks. They even come with meditation reminders so that you don’t end up working through your meditation breaks.
Even just taking five minutes for deep breathing can rejuvenate your mind and body, helping you press on in whatever work you have to do. Practicing meditation reminds you to focus on one task at a time, redefine the distractions around you, and exercise patience and kindness toward yourself.
When working in unison, these lessons come together to improve your job performance and launch you into a successful career outlook.
Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for EveryUSB, a custom flash drive retailer aimed at improving workplace productivity, and whose products are often used to publish employee handbooks, CVs, and various employment resources.