Breathe in, breathe out.
Whether or not we love our jobs, it often doesn’t take much for the workplace to become a stressful environment.
When things get overwhelming, it’s important to find a healthy (note: healthy) outlet for pent-up tension and aggravation. For a moment, toss aside any pre-conceived notions you may have about meditation—it’s so much more than silly humming noises and sitting in body-contorting positions while sporting a long, floral robe.
A study from the Ohio State University shows that as it increases relaxation, meditation also increases immunity in recovering cancer patients.
Research from Harvard Medical School demonstrates that meditation is able to lower blood pressure by making the body less responsive to stress hormones.
How can we take advantage of these health benefits at work without drawing attention to ourselves or removing ourselves from the office floor? These six tips can help us meditate without having to leave our desks.
1. Invest in a Mini Rock Garden.
At one point or another, you’ve probably seen a small rock garden sitting atop one of your coworkers’ desks. Its purpose extends beyond just good aesthetics: rock gardens are inspired by traditional Buddhist principles used in Zen meditation.
Use the rake to make patterns; take deep, calm breaths while raking; turn the rake over to clear patterns and then start again; use your imagination to draw new patterns, or look up different patterns to rake out.
As we create images and then clear the rocks, we will also be clearing our minds.
2. Use a One-Word Mantra.
Place your feet flat on the floor and pick a positive word like love, peace, serenity, etc. Any word that will calm us down in the middle of a hard workday will do. Now, calm the breath.
In your mind, say and repeat the positive word you’ve chosen. Pause and repeat.
If your mind wanders, try to go back to thinking about your chosen word.
Believe it or not, this simple method counts as meditation.
3. Check out a “Guided Meditation.”
Guided meditation is exactly what it sounds like—meditation with a little third-party assistance.
To get this help at work, you can download an app. There are many different apps available today for guided meditations, and many are free. Find one that suits you. These pieces of software are designed to bring us to our “happy place” and allow us to mentally retreat for a few minutes.
4. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
As with guided meditations, an app may help you out with this one.
Otherwise, we can learn a routine to figure out which muscles we should be relaxing at what times. With progressive muscle relaxation, the aim is to focus on each muscle in the body, starting from the toes.
Tense those muscles and then relax them; repeat three times and then move onto the next ones. Be sure to breathe. Breathing is as important for relaxing the body and soul as anything else.
Try this one out while on a tense phone call—it’ll work wonders.
5. Think Up Some “I am” Mantras.
What is something positive about you or about what you’re doing?
Put it in an “I am” statement, like “I am intelligent,” “I am a good cook” or “I am getting a lot done today.” Breathe steadily and deeply and then repeat that mantra in your head for a few minutes.
Have a few of these “I am” statements on hand so you can shake it up as needed.
The only way to get positive results from meditation is to introduce positivity into our thinking.
6. Pump Up the Jams—and Tune In.
You probably have music on your cell phone, computer or on a specific music-playing device.
Why not put those tunes to good use as the soundtrack to your meditation?
A good meditation song doesn’t just have to be instrumental or nature sounds—pick something that you enjoy, put on your headphones and then retreat into your own head for a couple minutes.
Pay close attention to the melody, the harmonies, the beats, rhythms and lyrics. And, of course, the breath.
Getting lost in a good song is enjoyable. Try it out for yourself!
Meditating at work doesn’t mean we’ll be drawing unwanted attention to our desks. Putting it into practice is about the improvement of the mind and body. By following any one of these tactics, our coworkers will be none the wiser to what we’re doing.
There’s no need to sit on our desks in some yogic position. Meditating can be as inconspicuous as finishing our quarterly reports.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Cat Beekmans
Photo: Flickr / Insomnia Cured Here