Meditation You Can Do at Work: 10 Ways
People tend to fall within several classes of people, those who do some form of meditation, those who would like to do it, those who think they are not capable of doing it, and those who say they forms of meditation are not for them. I find that the last two groups often go together. Individuals believe that they are not capable of meditation, so they say that meditation is not for them. You also have people who believe that you must have your own personal meditation room with candles, and statues, pillows to sit on, and soft serene music surrounding you.
The fact of the matter is that you can do meditation, relaxation, and grounding exercises anywhere. You can do them stuck in traffic, at your desk, in a crowd, or anywhere you need to calm and center yourself. The beauty is that no one will know you are doing most of these, so you can achieve your calm, and maintain your privacy. Let’s review some of the easier to learn, and more effective methods that you can do while at work.
Meditation You Can Do at Work: 10 Ways
1. Learning the Relaxation Response
The scientific fact of the matter is that we cannot be both agitated/stress and calm at the same time. This is where the relaxation response comes in to counteract the stress response. It helps us to decrease our heart rate, initiate deep and slow breathing, decrease our blood pressure, relax our muscles, and once this is all done, our entire body begins to balance into the relaxation response. The technique is fairly easy to learn, and is most about focusing on your breathing, your heart rate, and making a conscious effort to slow them down.
2. Deep Breathing Exercises
There are some amazing books, such as the Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook that dedicate entire sections just to the idea of deep breathing. For your purpose here, we are going to focus on that which can be done at work, and mostly without being noticed. When practiced, no one will know you are doing it. There are many times during sessions where I was doing my own deep breathing, and the person across from me had no idea. The simplest deep breathing is to breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. This has the added benefit of helping with nausea. It is shown that just 10 simple inhalations and exhalations will significantly reduce your level of stress, and have you back to a state of calm.
3. Meditative Walking
I am sure you have any number of co-workers who take multiple cigarette breaks throughout the day. It only seems fair that you should be able to take several brief meditative walks throughout the day to center and calm yourself. When you feel your stress level rising, and you need to step away, do just that. Take a brief 5-15 minute walk. As you walk be mindful and meditative. Notice the trees, the sky, and the clouds, anything that brings you to center, and puts you in a place where you are able to go back to your day.
4. Body Scanning and Progressive Muscle Relaxation
These are two separate exercises, but they can easily be integrated for even greater relaxation. With each exercise, you become keenly aware of each and every part of your body. You scan your body for areas of stress and tension. You then focus on each part of that area and focus on the thought of releasing the tension that has built up there and letting it go. This can be great for individual who sit at a desk all day and carry a great deal of tension and strain in their shoulders and upper back. You scan that area for where the tension sits, and then you can either physically contract or relax, or you can simply tell your body that you can feel the tension leaving that area. You may be surprised how effective both techniques are.
Mantras can be powerfully meditative. A mantra is a word or short phrase that we repeat over and over again that expresses our basic belief. It can also be a statement of calm and peace that we tell ourselves to bring us back to center. Some examples of mantras that one might use are,” If I can change my thoughts, I can change anything.” “Today I will make progress towards my goals.” “My thoughts do not control me, I control my thoughts.” “I trust myself, and my instincts, above anyone else.” “To make small steps towards big goals, is progress.” “No one controls how I feel about myself, but me.” “To be positive is to be productive.”
6. Quick Self Massage or Massage Chairs
If you are lucky enough to have a workplace that allows you to have one of those affordable massage overlays for your chair, get one. 5-10 minutes of this can do wonders to reduce and remove stress and tension. If you do not have the luxury of this, you can find a quiet place at your work, a stairwell, a private bathroom, or an empty office. Use this space to do a 5 minute massage where you work the muscles that are holding the most tension. You can do stretching, rubbing, or “chopping,” whatever works best for you. It is amazing what this small window of time can do for you.
7. Music Therapy
If you are lucky enough to have an amazing boss, ask if you can have earphones at your desk and listen to music while you work. Music does two things, it keeps you calm and relaxed, and it is also shown that individuals are more productive in their work with the calming distraction of music. So, really, employers are wise to let their employees do this, as they will stay more focused on the task at hand, and get more work done. If you are not allowed to listen to music at your desk, take a few of those short breaks during the day. You can listen to music in your car, or you can do it in conjunction with a meditative walk.
8. Grounding Exercises
Grounding exercises are used for many things. They can be used to distract from emotional pain such as anxiety, trauma, depression, or cravings. They also help to distract us by focusing on the external world vs our internal world. There are many different types of grounding including mental, physical, and soothing. There are also dozens and dozens of simple exercises within each of those areas. You simply find what works best for you, and no one will ever know you are doing them. This is probably the exercise that I get the most positive feedback on, and even the most skeptic find them beneficial. You can google “grounding exercises or techniques,” for lists of ideas that can work best for you.
9. The Buddy System
This concept seems simple enough. Maybe you have a good friend at work who could benefit from meditation as well. You can agree to take walks together at certain times each day. You can sit together and listen to music in one of your cars. You can find an empty office and practice mantras or guided meditation. We are more likely to stick to a habit with a “buddy,” and often times we are more likely to be creative with our ideas for meditation at work.
Mindfulness at work can be as simple as a heightened awareness of everything that you are doing for a 5 minute period. Be aware of holding your pen. Be aware of it the ink writing on the paper. Be aware of every keystroke on your computer. Be aware of your feet digging into the ground below you. This type of mindfulness makes you present, aware, in control of each and every thing that you think and do.