Meditation at work can seem practically impossible because so many of us are used to being in a constant state of stress where we are employed. Busy meetings, rushed clients, and long hours can have us all feeling exhausted. Self-care seems like the last thing on most of our lists. Through all this, meditation is still possible! Whether it is five minutes or an hour, this practice can be used within an office, studio, or break room setting.
When we are taking care of ourselves, it is truly the best way to provide the most efficient service and interactions we can to others. If not, we are just acting from a deficit and we will eventually burn out. This is not the goal! The goal is to learn more about yourself so that you know when you are approaching that area. You can then make adjustments to change it. You may find that meditation allows you to be able to handle more in a day than you would be able to otherwise!
When to Meditate?
Lunch breaks are the most clearly defined place for meditation during a day at work. Most of us receive an hour for lunch, but it can be done with 30-minute breaks or shorter. Longer breaks can consist of a combination of meditation and another activity (like actually eating lunch). You can divide the time the way you believe is best for your overall health and wellbeing.
If your office allows you to shut your door, this would be best. Also, letting your co-workers know that you are physically in the office but unavailable for conversation is optimal. Turn your office phone on silent or put it on some sort of “Out of Office” setting. This way, you won’t receive phone calls about tasks or other business matters. Remove the notifications from your phone temporarily. A “Do Not Disturb” button that some phones have is perfect for this.
Adjust the lighting the way you prefer. You can close or open curtains, depending on what kind of environment you want to create. I have a salt lamp in my office, and it gives off a slight pink light that is very relaxing for me. You can make your office smell more relaxing with essential oils or other forms of scenting. I have lavender and tea tree oil in my office because those smells help me to let go. They can be mixed with water in an empty spray bottle and spritzed around the room to change the atmosphere.
Best Places to Meditate
Some people are unable to relax in their workspaces, and this is okay. That is an area where you spend a lot of time working hard, and it might be difficult for you to associate that space with calmness for a while. If you are in driving distance, you can drive home or to a nearby library. During the workday, kids are usually at school and other people are at work. They might be less crowded than they would on any other day.
For those in cubical spaces, find out if your office has a conference room that you can book for yourself. Some spaces have empty rooms or areas that can be used for other purposes. In addition, I have even found it helpful to go out to my car and meditate! Cars provide semi-quiet spaces where people are not likely to bother you. It blocks wind on chilly days, and it’s also a place for some good sunshine on warm days! You might let some of your work friends or colleagues know that this is what you are doing so that they don’t knock on the window to try and chat.
Break rooms can work, but other people might have the ability to enter the space that you’re in. If you are able to meditate through that, wonderful. If not, look into some spaces where you can spend some time alone. I work on a college campus, so there are sometimes classrooms that are available. When class is not in session in one of the rooms, I am able to use it for meditating. Additionally, I know of a few locations on my campus where students and faculty hardly ever visit. These spaces are always silent, and I can work on my practice in a way that I choose.
Sounds During Meditation
Regarding noise and other sounds, you can use your phone or your computer here. Your computer can play white noise sounds, or you can even bring an actual fan into your space. You can access guided meditations through your computer as well. YouTube has them organized by category. Some even talk about work stress! Choosing the one that is best for you will be a process that you can find joy in.
-Apps such as Calm or Insight Timer can be downloaded to your phone. They play ambient music and/or mindfulness bells that can help you here. Calm also has guided meditations and music at a variety of paces.
-Podcasts are gaining popularity, and they are free. There are podcasts (or podcast episodes of Buddhist or affirmation podcasts) that are solely guided meditations. With cell phones, you can take them with you wherever you go.
-As always, if silence works best for you, please use it! Remember that this is your practice, and what works for others might not work for you. This is okay.
-Timers on the phone are helpful. If you desire, you can set an alarm time for the end of your lunch break so that you return to work on time. Or, you can set smaller breaks for yourself (20 minutes, for instance).
After this time, you can check in with yourself to see how you are doing. You might feel great and not need more time for that particular day! On the other hand, you might need more time than usual to take care of yourself. Refrain from judgment during this process because it is all about experience.
You also can use the Stopwatch feature that is on most phones these days. You can time and make small challenges for yourself. You can set a five-minute goal for yourself or even a 30-minute one. Have fun with the process of incorporating meditation into your day. There is so much you can learn!
Headphones might be best while you are at work. You can plug them into your computer or into your phone so that you can hear the sounds you are playing at the best quality possible. Too, it can double as a sound barrier so that outside noise cannot get in. If you like silence, earplugs are typically very inexpensive. The pair that I have costed one dollar, and they are wonderful for blocking out sound. I actually purchased them at a concert, and noise at my job does not get louder than that! I can simply put them in my ear and know that the sounds around me will be muffled or unnoticeable.
Other Ways to Meditate
If you do not have a break available during your workday, you can honestly use your bathroom break as a time to get a 5-minute meditation in. It is up to you whether you want to actually use the bathroom during this time, but it is a chance to get away from your desk to focus on your practice. Going for a short walk to gaze out of the nearest window is another idea. Finally, feel free to talk to your supervisor about the possibility of scheduling mini-breaks throughout your day for meditation. This discussion can include research studies about meditation and its benefits. You can also talk to your general practitioner about writing you a letter to give to your employer to take care of your mental health.
Meditation is even possible right before a meeting or gathering with many individuals. This practice is not something that takes long, although the benefits are extensive. Meditating before a meeting can give you a clear mind and thoughts pertaining to the tasks at hand (instead of a mind that wanders to other subjects). Additionally, meditation before a meeting can help you to have a better attitude about it. Most of us do not enjoy them, and meditating before a meeting can give you more mindful thinking processes before entering the room.
Meditating right when you get to work might let you approach your job in a different way. In the same vein, meditating as soon as the day has ended can help you release some of the energy you have taken on as the day progressed. If you find that you need to do a five-minute meditation at the beginning, middle, and end of the day, do so! Your mental health is extremely important to those that you work with. Meditation is a practice where you can improve this area of your life greatly.
Professional Benefits to Meditation
A meditation practice at work can allow you to gather your thoughts and emotions, especially after a stressful day or experience. Meditation lowers your blood pressure and calms the nervous system. It creates the ability to respond to work events intentionally instead of out of spite or overwhelming pressure. It also increases self-awareness and inner peace. Long-term, you will be able to know ahead of time what types of commitments you can and cannot handle and address them accordingly. You will be able to identify what triggers you and what is manageable for you. This knowledge is integral because you are the only person that is with you 100% of the time. Knowing what works and does not work for you will make you a better employee and person overall!
Meditation at work can decrease conflicts with clients and other co-workers. You will be able to know when you need to step away from a conflict or approach it in a different manner. Some conflicts escalate to the point where you need to include a third party. Knowing that this needs to be done ahead of time will enable you to take some control of your professional life. Too, you will be able to have a better relationship with yourself in the office. You will not be nearly as bombarded with thoughts of perfectionism or anxiety that are common in the workplace.
Clients will relate to you better, as people can pick up on negative energy. You will be able to communicate with them effectively and get whatever point across that you have to – whether that be sales, education, or some other transfer of knowledge. You will find that if a client is upset or angry, you do not have to take on the same types of emotions. This is true for conversations and misunderstandings with co-workers also. You can remain calm and help them in whatever ways are possible without engaging in arguing or reckless actions.
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