In part one of this series, I shared three ways mindfulness—or non-judgmental awareness—can be helpful for today’s workers, including increased cognitive flexibility, enhanced pro-social behavior, and improved resilience. Over time, the cumulative effect of individuals regularly practicing mindfulness can create a powerful cultural shift across an organization.
Of course, this type of culture shift takes time to realize and requires consistent mindfulness opportunities throughout the workplace experience.
Below, I will highlight some ways to incorporate mindfulness programming regularly and meaningfully into the workplace experience through different styles of meditation. The same practices may not appeal to everyone, which is why offering a range of opportunities to engage in mindfulness is helpful to support employees as they shift both their habits and mindsets.
As one of the most well-known practices for cultivating mindfulness, meditation can take many forms, including guided or self-led, a group setting or solo, silent or music-filled, and even moving or stationary. A regular meditation practice offers a range of benefits like enhanced psychological well-being, reduced risk of burnout, improved self-awareness, sharper problem-solving skills, and increased empathy.
Mindfulness through Meditation
Onsite workplace experience and well-being managers can help bring mindfulness to life through engaging events, classes, and programming. Here are some examples of meditative practices that can be incorporated into the workplace experience.
Several mindfulness practices pair breathwork with movement like tai chi, yoga, and qigong. This combination encourages awareness of the present moment through intentional breathing to foster the mind/body connection. In addition to improving balance and flexibility, mindful movement also helps relieve stress and reduce pain.
Instructor-Guided Meditation Classes
Group meditation classes can be done in person or virtually and can include mantra-style, body scanning, loving-kindness meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction training, or even visualizations. Offering a robust calendar of instructor-guided meditation classes allows employees to explore a variety of styles to discover what resonates most with them. To encourage participation, typical classes should be 30 minutes or less.
Sound meditation or sound therapy incorporates calming sounds into the mindfulness practice, simply requiring the practitioner to listen. Sound baths, an audible experience created with a series of different-sized singing bowls, help to decrease stress and increase energy.
Made of copper or tin, singing bowls can be traced back to the 8th century BCE and have long been used in Eastern meditation practices. They emit a resonant tone when struck or when the rim is traced with a mallet or other instrument. The sound is said to have healing and relaxing effects that reverberate throughout the body.
For individuals who are new to mindfulness, breathwork offers an accessible point of entry. By bringing attention to each inhale and exhale, this form of mindfulness helps reconnect practitioners with both their bodies and the present moment, helping to reduce blood pressure and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
For the past five years at a client site in New Jersey, the onsite team has offered employees a fully curated workplace program designed to boost well-being and deliver unique experiences, including a singing bowl meditation. The team developed a relationship with a local provider to come to the office and provide meditation sessions, gifting each participant with their own individual singing bowl and a new way to channel focus and find relaxation.
The classes have been extraordinarily popular and onsite employees have used these sessions as a springboard for their own personal wellness practices. One individual, Paula Diaz, said the singing bowl meditation has become a regular part of her life.
“It’s something I practice on a daily basis,” she says. “It helps me concentrate and it helps my breathing. I initially heard about singing bowls when my mother passed away in 2014 and now, I use it as a way to reconnect with her and some of my memories.”
Having access to events and services with a focus on employee mental health was a lifeline during the pandemic and has remained transformative for her workplace. By having opportunities to disconnect from the stress of life and work to concentrate on the present, Paula says she and her colleagues do better work and feel more at ease.
“You learn to stop worrying so much about what is out of our control,” she says. “It’s a mindset, but you have to practice it.”
Taking time out to focus on individual wellness and mindfulness offers positive outcomes and an ongoing opportunity for people to decompress throughout their day.
In addition to singing bowl meditation, the onsite workplace team also offers a variety of other mindfulness-focused events including painting, yoga, and meditative walks. Gloria Walker, a workplace experience manager at the client site, says the singing bowl meditation and other mindfulness-based events are among their most popular offerings.
“We provide a lot of well-being events to give people opportunities for escapism and to take a break from work,” she says. “It provides a chance for our team to think about our positive experiences and how we can share them with our colleagues. I took a singing bowl class years ago with my daughter and loved how it offered a different way of thinking about well-being. It’s not a way we typically think in the workplace, but it’s really helpful.”
Unique Experiences and a Focus on Wellness
When organizations focus on the well-being of their employees and provide them with unique opportunities to explore new things, people are more likely to thrive in their workplace environment. Mindfulness and a meditation practice are just one component of what’s possible to enhance worker contentment, fulfilment, and retention.