Monday, February 20, 2006

Mindfulness and work stress

I just came upon an article about meditation in the workplace that is quite interesting. It's entitled, "Meditation goes to work: Squeeze in some mindfulness to relieve a day of stress" and was published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Here's how it gets started:

MINNEAPOLIS -- Robert Zeglovitch, an employment attorney at Leonard, Street and Deinard in Minneapolis, has been practicing Zen meditation for more than 10 years. When he offered to teach a Buddhism-based but secular form of meditation called "mindfulness" within the law firm in 2004, the demand was so great that he expanded from one to three classes.

He describes mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in each moment, and without judgment.

"It is simply experiencing what is happening in the present moment, as much as possible, without the usual mental commentary that we make: 'That's good,' 'That's bad,' 'I wish I could change this,' or 'I want more of that,' " Zeglovitch said. "It sounds easy, but it requires daily practice."

Zeglovitch is among a growing number of workers in the United States who are employing Eastern philosophies and practices to handle the stresses of daily work and living.

Increasingly, employers are making such alternative treatments available to their workers. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va., found that 33 percent now make acupuncture available, up from 18 percent five years ago, for example.

As more U.S. workers incorporate new ideas into their life and work, their employers are increasingly open to them, too, said Jen Jorgensen, an association spokesperson.

There is also a proliferation of organizations across the country that now sell Eastern-based leadership, ethics and stress-reduction programs, including the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Spirit in Business and Awake at Work.

Later in the article, this observation is reported:

Mindfulness meditation trains people to penetrate the clutter of their minds and surroundings, Zeglovitch said, and it's just as applicable in a courtroom as a Tibetan monastery.

"Certainly in a courtroom, you need to be adept at picking up clues, both verbal and nonverbal, so you can react to what's happening," he said.

I really like the definition of mindfulness Zeglovitch uses: "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in each moment, and without judgment." What would happen if we encouraged ourselves to practice in that way all the time - and not just during formal meditation sittings? No doubt our lives would be transformed.

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