The popularity of yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices has increased significantly in the United States in recent decades. Many businesses have even started to consider how these practices can improve workers’ productivity and help them manage stress. In fact, adopting some of these techniques could improve your job performance and work-life balance, even if you don’t plan to become a dedicated yogi or meditator.
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During the ’60s and ’70s, many young Americans sought spiritual training in monasteries in the east. Most famously, Steve Jobs spent about a year traveling, learning, and meditating in India, and the lessons he learned there clearly influenced many of his most popular ideas about business and work. Thanks to the awareness these young people brought back to America, some of the guiding tenets of eastern philosophies have become widely known and accepted in 2014.
Jack Kornfield, co-founder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California, believes that Buddhist practices can help Americans now more than ever, during a time marked by high-stress and over-scheduling.
“Americans needed a particular meditation practice closely linked to the concepts of self-forgiveness and ‘loving kindness,’ – a training in the unconditional acceptance of imperfection,” Kornfield said, after several decades of helping the American worker in distress.
If you’re curious about the benefits that mindfulness can bring to your work and personal lives, you don’t need to sign up for a retreat. Consider these ideas:
1. Just thinking about mindfulness could make a difference.
How can one find the time to meditate, focus on breath, and center spiritually when each day’s schedule is full to the brim, or, more often, actually overflowing? Perhaps it’s not more time that is needed. A more mindful approach to the day could make a world of difference. Just bringing awareness that focusing on being present is important could change the way one goes through the day. It shines a light of perspective on to-do lists and packed calendars that helps individuals take stressful routines in stride with greater ease and less pressure.
2. Mindfulness practices improve creativity, clarity, and focus.
Productivity and efficiency increase when stress is reduced, and eastern techniques do just that. Alongside stress reduction, individuals experience improved focus and clarity of thought, and they think more creatively. These traits help workers use their time more productively, which improves the bottom line. Mindfulness training is becoming a popular way for businesses to elevate these qualities in their workers.
3. Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness techniques improve health.
Many companies have fitness programs aimed at helping workers improve health and focus. Today, the American worker understands that their physical health impacts their thinking skills, sleep habits, effectiveness, and ultimately, their overall productivity. Meditation practices, and other eastern techniques, should be viewed from a similar perspective.
Whether engaging in spiritual practices, or just incorporating a different point of view into their working lives, workers have a lot more tools to manage their lives than they did just a few years ago. This awareness alone could make a positive difference in the workplace.
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