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Mindfulness at Work

Posted Sep 07 2010 10:28am

As our lives get increasingly busy and it is harder to achieve work life balance, stress related ailments are costing companies about $200 billion a year in increased absenteeism, tardiness, and the loss of talented workers, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (Der Hovanesian 2003).

However, during the past decade, a growing number of companies and organizations have discovered the advantages of offering their staff a chance to learn about meditation, yoga, and other contemplative practices.  Contemplative practices including prayer, meditation, yoga, and many contemplative arts, help individuals regain balance and calm in the midst of challenging circumstances.

Contemplative practices can help people develop greater empathy and communication skills, improve focus and concentration, reduce stress and enhance creativity.  A study done by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society found 135 companies and organizations that offer such benefits as above.  Additionally, it was found by researchers (Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, et al 2003) and (Der Hovanesian 2003) that employees who take up these contemplative practices tend to experience less stress and more job satisfaction and productivity.

Mindfulness, perhaps one of the most popular contemplative practices is becoming more pervasive in work environments.  There are cutting edge companies like Google and Apple who have led the way in offering mindfulness based classes, yoga, and spaces for meditation at work.  Mindfulness plays a major role in ensuring that emotional and mental well-being remains a priority.

In addition, more and more law schools are incorporating mindfulness for incoming law students.  In fact, some of the most popular and well attended courses at the University of Miami School of Law aren’t part of the core curriculum or required for graduating.  Instead, the classes are part of the voluntary mindfulness program, only in its 3rd year at the school.  A faculty member at UM states this about the mindfulness classes, “Utlimately, the program prepares students to have a much more extraordinary law school career where their performance is at a high level and their well being is intact. “The goal is for law professionals to focus as much on their mental health as they do on their grades and class rankings.  It is crucial for helping those just beginning in the field to keep an overall healthy balance as the y enter the competitive legal world.”

Incorporating mindfulness into legal workplaces is important because of the long hours and competitive nature of these organizations.  I was recently speaking to a friend of mine who worked as a corporate lawyer and he stated to me, “Legal training teaches you  to think like a lawyer, but there’s no focus on dealing with the intense emotions involved in the work that is being conducted.”  Lawyers often deal with nasty people and hot disputes and they are taught to meet fire with fire, but this way of living often brings a lot of pain and burnout.  In using mindfulness, one can develop a strong and less reactive way to be, it can be strong, but also wise and kind.

If you would like to bring mindfulness programs into your workplace, we at Intuitive Wellness offer mindfulness based wellness programs with titles such as walking meditation, mindful weight management, and mindfulness at work. Please click on this link for more information-

If you are interested starting a mindfulness practice for yourself personally at work.  Please read starting a meditation practice-

Additionally, you might find the following books a helpful resource.

Lewis Richmond
Work as a Spiritual Practice A Practical Buddhist Approach to Inner Growth
and Satisfaction on the Job

Broadway Books

Insight Meditation

Joseph Goldstein
Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom
Shambhala Publications

The Experience of Insight

Joseph Goldstein
The Experience of Insight A Simple and Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation

Shambhala Publications

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever You Go, There you are Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

The Miracle of Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh
The Miracle of Mindfulness A Manual on Meditation
Beacon Press

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