In one of my recent articles, I wrote a response to a man who complained about not being able to find a decent place to meditate in or around work. If you’re a meditation enthusiast and have similar challenges with sneaking around to meditate, I wanted to present you with another idea.
What if you got your entire office meditating with you?
Now, before you think this is a crazy idea that would never work in your office environment, just hear me out.
There’s a growing wave of interest in alternative methods for reducing employee stress, and increasing productivity. As a result, many progressive companies (large and small) are embracing the idea of allowing employees to set aside time during the busiest periods of their workday to meditate.
Some companies such as Apple, Nike, Google and Yahoo (and even mindbodygreen!) already have dedicated meditation rooms for their employees, while Oprah encourages her staff to stop what they’re doing and meditate twice each work day!
It’s not just tech companies who’ve embraced meditation. Also in the fold are Procter & Gamble, Deutsche Bank, and AOL Time Warner.
If your company is still in the dark ages when it comes to embracing the simple practice that allows you to think clearer, be less stressed, and make every other area of production better, here’s a way to put forth an initiative to have a daily office meditation:
1. Make sure YOU’RE meditating.
If you’ve been off and on in your personal practice, it’s going to be harder to convince anyone else that it’s worth carving out work hours to do. You must be consistent, even if it means going through great lengths to meditate in or around your office in the afternoons, or right after work.
You will become your own best sales pitch for meditation at work, because you will become more productive and happier, and people will start to notice.
2. Do your research.
While you’re meditating with consistency for at least 3 months, start gathering data to support your initiative for company-wide meditation. You can do internet research, or you can get Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, and/or Russell Simmon’s book Success Through Stillness.
They are both chock-full of data supporting the benefits of corporate meditation. Reading either of them will reaffirm your personal commitment to meditating as well.
3. Prepare a deck or slide show.
Take detailed notes from the books, making sure to cite your sources to increase the validity of your proposal. Then simplify it in a presentation no more than 10 slides long. Focus more on the benefits of the company as opposed to personal benefits, which will occur anyway once you start the program.
4. Name drop.
Normally, name-dropping in any situation is frowned upon, except when it comes to this. There may be big-name, profitable and progressive companies within your industry that are already instituting employee meditation programs. Several are listed in the aforementioned books. Nothing motivates the decision makers like learning that their competition has a secret weapon they are not yet accessing.
5. Ask for more than you want.
Don’t be shy. Start off by asking for the world. Propose two 20-minute periods dedicated for a company-wide meditation each day, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. You’re probably not going to get it (unless, of course, you work at a monastery). But you may get one 20-minute meditation period a day as a consolation.
If they give you a choice of morning or afternoon, choose afternoon. Humans naturally have a lull in energy around 2PM. Shooting for a daily 3PM 20-minute office meditation would do wonders to re-energize your team and position you and your coworkers to have some of your most creative ideas.
6. Have a backup “If / then” plan.
In case you get push-back from the decision-makers on one meditation a day, hit them back with an if/then plan — basically a trial period. Phrase it like so: “Let’s just try it for a week, and if it doesn’t increase energy levels and productivity, then we can go back to what we were doing before.” Or, “Let’s dedicate a room in the office as our office meditation room for whoever wants to take a meditation break.” No reasonable decision maker can resist that kind of request.
With a little bit of initiative, you can make meditation a cool thing that more people do at work, which means you will help spread more happiness into the world. Not a bad side-benefit.
It’s also something that would spruce up the old CV. I’m not suggesting you use resume-building as your motivation, but it certainly doesn’t hurt for you to be known within your industry as the person who helped increase productivity levels and decrease employee sick days, by instituting a company-wide meditation program.
You don't need everyone to participate. Just those who may be interested.
For employees without a technique, there are a couple of brilliant (and free) apps that offer simple, straight-forward instruction for a 20-minute practice, such as 1 Giant Mind, Headspace, or Russell Simmons’s new app, Meditation Made Simple.
And worse case scenario, if you get fired for trying to start a meditation program at your company, you still win, because you’ll draw unemployment while you find a new job, and that’s a badass thing to tell your next potential employer in the interview. “Yeah, I got fired for being committed to my meditation practice.”
Who knows, maybe you'll start a movement?