There, Do Nothing...Are You Kidding Me?
Merrick Rosenberg, MBA
Stress has become so
prevalent in the workforce that a recent study by CareerBuilder.com
found that 68% reported feeling burnout at work. While there are many
causes of workplace stress, there is something that people can do about
it. The best part is that this strategy requires very little effort.
The ancient practice of meditation has proven significant physical
benefits, including: Reduced stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure
and cholesterol, decreased pain, and reversed heart disease. And those
are just the physical benefits. Regular meditators report that they
experience better creativity and results at work, inner peace, more
patience, stronger focus and concentration, greater levels of
self-acceptance, heightened joy and contentment, more positive thoughts,
deeper connection with others, and a greater spiritual connection.
The idea of a meditator sitting alone on a mountaintop is enough to send
most of us running. So why are so many Americans finding this ancient
practice so attractive?
In these days of being tethered to work via a Blackberry, the rapid pace
of change, and a barrage of negativity and stress from fellow-coworkers,
people are seeking a way to minimize their own stress levels and prevent
How hard can it be?
Most people who try meditation often state that they think they are
doing it wrong. Sitting without moving is uncomfortable. Quieting the
mind is impossible. Finding time to do it is challenging. With time,
meditation gets easier and becomes more centering and balancing.
Following are some tips to get you started:
#1: Get rid of the
shoulds The sooner you get rid of all preconceived notions about
what meditation should feel like, the faster you will experience its
benefits. Thoughts will enter your mind. Thats OK. You dont have
to meditate for an hour. Sometimes, three minutes will do the trick.
You dont have to meditate every day. If you miss a day, dont worry
about it. Let go of expectations.
#2: Location, location, location - Choose a place that is off the
beaten path, such as a nearby park bench that you can visit during
lunchtime. Most importantly, know that any place can work if you can
sit comfortably and close your eyes for just a few minutes.
#3: Let go of tension Begin with a quick body scan. Pay attention
to places where you are holding stress and tension. You may think
that you are relaxed, but most people hold tension throughout their
body and dont even know it. Try this now, tune into your jaw and
completely relax it. Its surprising how much tension we hold. Let
it go, and then tune into the breath.
#4: Breathe like your body wants you to Everything about you is
designed to breath deeply such that the air expands into your lower
abdomen, not your upper chest, yet thats how most of us breathe.
Most oxygen exchange takes place in the lower lungs. If you chest
breathe, your respiratory rate must be higher so that the cells get
the energy they need. In turn, too little oxygen delivered to the
tissues, organs, body, and mind becomes energy deprived. Further,
the mind associates upper chest breathing with an anxious mind, so
the slower and deeper you breathe, the more relaxed and focused you
#5: Tame the monkey Youve found a nice quiet spot to meditate.
Youve released tension, and youre breathing deeply. But your mind,
it wont stop. Its like a monkey jumping from thought to thought,
and you cant stop it. Monkey-mind, as Buddhists call it, is a
natural state of being. Be open to what arises, but dont attach to
it. When your mind wanders, acknowledge the thought, but dont
advance the thought. When thoughts arise, simply tell yourself,
breathe, then return to the present. Meditation is about being not
doing. Dont try to force the thoughts out. That is an act of doing.
Allow the thoughts to simply melt away as you bring your focus back
to the breath.
Some cultures believe that each person is allotted a certain number of
breaths within his or her lifetime. When you use them up, you die
slow down and breathe deeply.
About the Author
Merrick Rosenberg, MBA, is the co-founder and CEO & President of Team
Builders Plus, in Cherry Hill, NJ. In working with line staff to senior
executives in worldwide organizations in diverse industries and sizes,
Merrick has served as a facilitator, performance coach, and management
consultant for more than eighteen years. He specializes in leadership
development, team building, and organizational development. Merrick also
coaches individuals using 360-degree feedback results and behavioral
style analysis. Merrick has been featured on CN8s Money Matters Today
and in ASTDs Training & Development magazine.
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