Meditation at work ? A practice in growth

Meditation at work ? Fully aware meditation or “mindfulness” sounds esoteric to your ears? Yet, the practice extends to the most serious and demanding professions, such those in the medical field and will make you better at work.

Mathew, 29, has a big year ahead of him as he finishes his MBA while migrating to a bank management position, and even has to plan his marriage. He says, “Without mindfulness meditation, I wouldn’t know how to manage all these projects head-on.”

How does it work? Joe Flanders, registered psychologist and founder of Montréal’s Mindspace, and Mathew following his courses, both explain the principle. “Our minds naturally have a tendency to wander in the past and future. Mindful meditation trains you to bring your thoughts back to the present moment.” 

The practice was devised by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 80s and is also known by the acronym MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). The training takes place over eight weeks for two hours per week and there breathing techniques are also learned to bring us back to the present.

Gina Rubinsky—registered psychologist and found of the Living Arts centre teaching MBSR—explains, “It benefits the mind while also benefiting the body. There are measurable physical effects such as diminished blood pressure, reinforced immune system, improved sleep, and–on the psychological level—a decrease in stress and automatic responsiveness.”

Mathew explains the greatest benefit that he draws from this practice, “Mindfulness meditation lets me be more responsive to my employees,” he explains, “When a situation presents itself, I listen before acting. It gives me reflexes.”   

Meditation at work : No small gain 

That is all good and well, but how much time does the practice take? Rubinsky clarifies, “The difference between formal and informal practices must be made.” 

Formal practice is the meditation we imagine, the psychologist asserts, “We do breathing exercises isolated in a room for five to twenty minutes. We suggest practising it every day, but benefits can be reaped even if the bare minimum is done often enough.” 

The supposed informal practice is for when—in the heat of the moment—we take a few moments to anchor ourselves in the present. Meditation at work integrates itself easily into a work day. Flanders says, “It can be done while walking, eating, or drinking a glass of water. We can perform some breathing exercises while concentrating on what we hate.”

Serious supporters

For doubters, mindful meditation workshops are offered in many faculties of medicine in Quebec as much as in the United States. 

Researchers David and Hayes in the journal Psychotherapy inform us that some of the researched effects are an increase in “patient empathy,”  

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