Workplace meditation can increase productivity, save on healthcare costs
I’m at work, and I’m fried. You know the feeling.
If only I could take a moment, sit back from my computer and shut down my senses for a bit.
But that’s not the way this job works. I’m not sure what my boss would think if she caught me idle with my eyes closed.
Instead, I’ll jump on Facebook for a distraction. I find an article about New York Times reporter David Gelles’ new book, Mindful Work, where Gelles describes stories of lowering stress levels and increasing productivity at work through meditation.
A few more minutes of procrastination reveals another interesting article on how meditation at work lowers the company’s health care costs. U.S. companies spend hundreds of billions each year on healthcare costs, and those costs continue to rise, and a lot of it is caused by stress.
Dang, this stuff sounds pretty economical.
I come across another article written by Eden Kozlowski, a meditation and mindfulness speaker and teacher. In the article, she describes three simple methods for implementing time for meditation at the office.
Oh, and this author lives in town!
I needed to know more, so I contacted Kozlowski. She invited me to her new meditation studio, Just Be.
“This stuff rocks,” Kozlowski says when explaining the powers of meditation.
Kozlowski picks up a clipboard of scientific studies and rattles off some stats.
“Stress impacts chronic fatigue, colds, flu, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” she says. “So if you have a staff who’s stressed, they ain’t gonna feel so good.”
Kozlowski works with people from a wide gamut. Through the practice of meditation, she helps young people work through their anxiety. She helps veterans face down past demons. She helps people in physical pain gain more control and understanding of that pain so it doesn’t control them.
Kozlowski recently opened Just Be studio, where she holds group meditation classes. It allows her a space to welcome people who are in search of answers. Just Be emits a great vibe. It’s a positive space, embracing its visitors with a welcoming warmth.
I’m sitting comfortably on a pillow, cross-legged as Kozlowski educates me on mindful meditation. With every word she speaks, I’m realizing I don’t do any of it at work.
Could this be why I feel fried at 3:00 p.m.? I wonder.
Kozlowski is an expert at guiding participants of meditation in whatever direction they’re interested in working. The point, however, is to help participants take mindful time for themselves.
“There’s nothing selfish about it,” she says. “I get so many people who say ‘I’m taking time for myself, I can’t do that.’ If you don’t take time for yourself, how are you going to take care of everybody else?”
Kozlowski, once a VP in the corporate world, explains the importance of meditation for businesses. In the workplace, employees feed off the emotions of people they’re around. If the mood is poor, it tends to have a negative effect. However, if the workplace gives its employees permission to take some time for themselves, positive changes happen.
“We talk about I.Q. being so important,” she explains. “But really, at the end of the day, it’s your emotional intelligence.”
Meditation doesn’t work because of magic. It works for scientific reasons. It works because meditation helps you gain more control of your brain. Like toning muscles at the gym, working on your brain helps you strengthen it, and instead of lifting heavier objects, you can work through heavier circumstances.
We can even think of it more simply. Which is more productive – a stressed out employee or one who takes time for him or herself?
So, how do we take advantage of this?
- You want a more productive workforce? Try bringing Kozlowski in for a corporate session. On one level, your employees will learn a strategy to help them focus and rejuvenate so their work is that much more productive. On an economic level, your business would save on healthcare costs and sick leave time. Even if your staff is as healthy as can be, there’s something called presenteeism, where people are at work but not productive at all and just as costly to the company.
- You want help redirecting yourself from addiction or poor eating habits? Try a trip to the Just Be studio. Meditation can help you gain control of your mind back from those cravings and set you on a path where you control your habits again.
- You want to help your son or daughter with learning strategies for school focus? Take some meditative tips from Kozlowski. Through meditative practices, children can tune out distractions and control where they place their focus.
- You want to learn about deep meditation so you can really take on some ailing emotion, past or present? Open your heart to meditation. Rather than suppressing a darkness that just won’t go away, Kozlowski will guide you through it, leaving you feeling accomplished and joyful.
Mindfulness helps you come to the realization that it’s entirely your decision whether or not you want to be positive. Sure, people can say some nasty things, or sometimes we might perceive someone’s words as nasty when that’s not the intention. Either way, we control our response. It’s up to us how we want to react to another person: our responsibility, and ours alone. We can sulk for hours, or we can realize the benefit of smiling inside and moving on to something positive.
“It’s about really finding who you are,” says Kozlowski.
We have the tools to better ourselves. Of course, there’s quick-fix diets and pills, but that’s outside aid. We have the answers and the power within us. We just have to act, and Kozlowski’s Just Be is a great starting point.
As she says, “I’m here to help you listen to you.”
And here’s your first chance! Check out the De-Stress Expo at Just Be on Sunday, April 26 from 1 to 5 p.m. It’s the studio’s grand opening, offered in conjunction with L’il Yoga, including free meditation classes, yoga classes, free massage and reiki, and more, all focusing on stress relief. Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board is the event’s benefactor.