The workplace hippie. The "overly" health conscious individual. The granola. The mediation junkie. These are all phrases I’ve heard being thrown around at work to describe those free-thinkers who aren’t quite content enough with typical rhythm of an office workplace.
I am that person, and I am not ashamed!
But just because I have this view doesn’t mean I’m cramming it down my coworkers’ throats. And just because some of my coworkers may deem my head-clearing behavior bizarre doesn’t mean I should feel awkward or bullied for my choices. It may seem slightly daunting at first, but the following tips help make a focused mindset a reality.
Start Practicing at Home
The beautiful thing about meditation is that it looks different for everyone. Some people only need a few moments of deliberate breathing to feel composed; others require much more time and may benefit from incorporating yoga poses into their routine.
If you aren’t somewhat familiar with head-clearing activities related to mediation, I recommend you find your "happy place" at home first. Although I’m no professional, I can say that I’ve found several meditation practices that really work for me. While there are numerous meditation techniques in existence, the following meditation styles are simple and effective:
Zen (Zazen) Meditation: The Japanese word Zazen means "seated meditation." While sitting on the ground or in chair, focus on your breath and simply "just sitting" as ways to clear your thought space. Keep your mouth and eyes closed, and remain silent aside from breathing.
Mindfulness Meditation: This type of meditation focuses on the present. Buddhist culture is in many ways founded by mindfulness. This belief system focuses on "the active, watchful mind and helps deter worry, doubt, and stress, as well as common mental health disorders.
Metta Meditation: When practicing metta meditation, love for yourself, the world you live in, and love for others remain at the forefront of one’s mind. Also known as loving-kindness meditation, this can be done similarly to Zazen, but oftentimes includes repeating phrases such as the following: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”
Furthermore, consider getting some meditation accessories to complete the ensemble of your space. Whether this entails building a gorgeous pond and waterfall you in your backyard or simply putting up a comfortable hammock to lay in, any addition to you make to your positive mental health environment is useful.
For me, I started by simply clearing the floor in my living room entirely, laying down a simple yoga mat, turning on my favorite instrumental music (vocal parts in songs tend to distract me in this context) and sitting in a comfortable, upright position with my eyes closed.
Meditate for as long as you like; whatever feels good. It’s really that simple to begin meditating for the first time!
Find a Safe, Secluded Area
The best way to start meditating at work is to find a location that is completely comfortable. When it’s warm enough, I love to be outside to clear my head, but in the colder months I find a spot on a waiting room couch or any open place I can be for a few minutes.
For example, just today I took a walk around the complex where I work and meditated on a small dock for about half an hour. It’s pretty incredible what a world of difference a quick cognitive break like this makes on stressful days!
But why even meditate at work to begin with? How is it actually beneficial?
Two words: mental health.
The world is facing a mental health crisis whether we recognize it or not. A resource by Bradley University points out that over 18% of the U.S. adult population (43.6 million adults) currently experience some form of mental health problem. Additionally that graphic points out that just under half (47%) of adults in the U.S. will experience a mental health problem during their lives.
Practicing meditation and yoga on the regular helps alleviate life’s stressors and gives a person additional foresight and mental clarity. In fact, yoga is commonly used as alternative treatment for certain mental illnesses.
Don’t Cave to Stigmas at Work, or Anywhere
In a world filled with a multitude of bogus stigmas, it’s important to remember to not let prejudice or misunderstandings get in the way of personal health.
Most group dynamics at workplaces unfortunately include those who bully coworkers, even through adulthood. As it turns out the advice your parents gave you as a kid may transcend into adulthood: just ignore those who talk down to or degrade people.
Don’t cave and let workplace bullies manipulate you. Instead, if you get any flak from colleagues for meditating at work, take the "killing them with kindness" approach. I can say through past experiences that at the adult level, a kindness approach almost always resonates in situations like these.
Experiment With What Works Best for You
After learning how, when, and where to meditate, your body and mind will thank you. I also use smartphone meditation apps to help me feel motivated. These types of apps help create new direction for advancing in mediation and yoga. You can go at your own pace and progress at a rate that is most comfortable to you.
Also there’s a plethora of helpful yoga videos online. They are available for free and by paid subscriptions. Personally, I don’t pay for yoga instructions because I’ve found enough of these types of free resources on YouTube alone. Think simple searches for terms like "yoga basics" "yoga instructions" "beginner yoga poses" and branch out from there.