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Want Some Meditation With That Meeting?

Want Some Meditation With That Meeting?

Companies on the west coast of the U.S., including Google, Facebook, and General Mills, are starting to pay attention to the negative impact that living in the digital fast lane has on employees. Working online tends to disconnect people from the rest of the world and takes a toll on a person’s creative output. As Justin Rosenstein, co-founder of software company Asana (named after a yoga pose in which the body is both stable and active), explains:

“We’re humans, not robots; we’re engaged in a creative endeavor that requires a lot of energy, and so if you’re constantly involved in the output – in the exhale – then you’ll run out of breath. You won’t have the ability to give your best.”

According to an article in The Guardian, these companies have begun offering “mindfulness training.” Google runs workshops on neural re-programming and even hosted Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in 2011. General Mills offers corporate mindfulness programs. Medium runs guided meditations. Facebook has regular sessions to teach mindfulness and meditation practice. Asana is run by two guys who believe that mindfulness is “as important for personal well-being and just being a good human as it is for being a good company.” While some of the CEOs may be driven to invest in mindfulness training because they have dollar signs dancing in their eyes and know it will ultimately increase and improve productivity – a necessity in the competitive world of Silicon Valley – it’s still refreshing to see.

We can’t all afford to import Zen masters for personal guidance, so some of us have to invent our own strategies for recharging mentally. Mine is a form of unplugging; I don’t have a wireless connection at home. Instead, I have a hard DSL line that I plug into my laptop manually. I’m aware it sounds practically Stone Age, but it’s the best solution I have for separating my online work from my ‘real’ life. Because getting that connection requires effort, I make a conscious decision every time I sit down at my desk. It’s a personalized, self-imposed version of mindfulness.

The world could benefit from a lot more mindfulness, whether it’s taking out one’s headphones to strike up a conversation with a stranger or not checking text messages while meeting a friend for coffee. The problem is that mindfulness requires challenging things of us device-addicts: disconnection, focus, uni-tasking, etc. A state of meditative mindfulness is the opposite of the common restless state of online anxiety. It is a quest for objectivity, “a way to claw back some of the equilibrium of how we exist in the real world, rather than the hyper-mediated place we create for parts of ourselves online.” That last phrase is key – remembering how to be a whole person, more than just a username.

I think the companies are on to something great, and hopefully others will take note, incorporating an emphasis on mindfulness (and psychological health in general) into business models.

 

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Katherine Martinko

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Kara, selected from TreeHugger

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

45 comments

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7:28PM PST on Dec 30, 2013

Sounds like a step in the right direction!

1:41PM PST on Dec 22, 2013

Fascinating idea

1:59AM PST on Dec 22, 2013

Thanks

1:55AM PST on Dec 22, 2013

I agree, this is refreshing to see and an excellent employee benefit. These companies are leading the way for other companies to join in on helping their employees become more well-rounded individuals. Nice article, good to know. Thank you.

7:26PM PST on Dec 18, 2013

Meditation aids in focus and production.

3:15AM PST on Dec 16, 2013

thank you for sharing

10:16AM PST on Dec 15, 2013

never been able to do anything like this around people but others can, and this sounds a wonderful way to stop all the yelling that seems, more and more, the American way of communication. (What is that - he who yells the loudest wins?) Political reporting and discussions on TV are case in point. Maybe they all just need to sit around saying hmmmmm and we'd all be better off.

5:22AM PST on Dec 15, 2013

I've tried meditation but my cats won't have it. Thanks

4:56AM PST on Dec 15, 2013

I listen to soft music, burn a candle, close my eyes and meditate. It is the best relaxing de-stresser therapy. I feel rejuvenated and happy.

2:59AM PST on Dec 15, 2013

Thanks for sharing - I think every workplace needs to implement this!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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