Imagine an executive who moves his telephone to the far side of his office. It takes an extra five seconds to answer every call. Must be an unproductive fellow, right?Yes, indeed. I perpetually am confronted with people who think that meditation means "zoning out". Far from it. It means connecting utterly with this very moment in a state of relaxed alertness.
Not according to Jonathan Foust, who teaches meditation at the World Bank and other Washington, D.C., venues.
Foust encourages his pupils to pause during the rush of daily life, to return to the calm place they find in meditation. With a renewed focus, they can actually be more productive -- better at prioritizing work and managing distractions.
When the executive rises from his chair to get the phone, he steals a sliver of time to clear his mind.
"When you slow down, what is most important will come to the surface," said Foust, warning that this takes time to master. "These practices are like swimming upstream because you're encountering not only your own conditioning, but the culture. This culture does not want to slow down."
Millions of Americans are swimming alongside Foust's students, seeking a respite from the breakneck pace of modern life. Meditation groups have sprung up in law offices, insurance companies and other workplaces, without the stereotypical trappings of incense and crystals.
Employers find that meditation classes not only boost productivity, they save money by reducing employees' stress levels.
In Pittsburgh, health insurer Highmark Inc. offers a group relaxation class and provides Intranet access to an audio routine called "de-stress at your desk."
"Stress can have a long-term impact on the health of your employees, productivity and the bottom line," said Lisa Scholar, Highmark's manager of employee preventive health.
At the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, every staff meeting begins with a group meditation.
"It's a lot different than the transcendental meditation that we hippies grew up with," said Tanya Edwards, the center's director. The goal is "to try to put yourself in a quasi-meditative state all the time."
Monday, October 22, 2007
Learning to pause
Now here's an idea! It's from an article entitled "Relaxation at work":