Monday, July 23, 2012

Meditation and the Workplace

Dear Booksellers,

You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of meditation. I find it amazing that this simple, yet powerful exercise can relieve stress, boost energy, increase overall satisfaction and serenity, improve memory, and help with insomnia. But I never considered its positive influence on our work life.

Here, Robert Butera, author of Meditation for Your Life, explores how meditation impacts how we respond to problems in the workplace—whether you’re a business owner making tough decisions or a bookseller helping customers on the floor.

Meditation Tip for Work
By Robert Butera, Ph.D.

People who spend time each day quieting their mind (meditating) typically for five to thirty minutes see an increase in their work performance. Some of the common benefits are:

  • resilience to stress because you see the bigger picture and meditation offers processing time
  • decision-making based on reality versus emotion
  • conflict resolution—listening for meaning and remaining patient
  • an upbeat and positive attitude due to feeling centered
  • have more energy during and after work
Meditation for Your Life
Robert Butera, Ph.D.

Consider the concept from yoga translated as “pure thinking.” Yoga philosophy offers a triad of possibilities for the mind: negative, positive and pure. Most of us know our own tendencies for negative thinking and wish to refrain from that. However, when you catch yourself with a negative thought, you can follow it with a Pure response to understand from where the negativity arises. Negative thoughts can carry important messages.

Positive thinking, where every situation has an uplifting spin on it, is certainly better than negative thinking. For example, when a customer complains about something and we respond negatively, no one wins. If we spin it positively, we might think, “Mr. Customer is having a bad day, so I will be nice to him this time around.” These positive responses require a lot of mental energy to deflect the negativity. In effect, the positive response in this triad depletes our energy… and when the day is over, we are beat.

Pure thinking rests above the polarity of negative and positive. The customer complaint, met with purity, is merely a customer complaint. Our mind sees reality for what it is without judging it as good or bad, negative or positive, rude or nice. It just is. When the mind can stay unbiased, the listener can hear more and be free of any animosity or forced kindness. You simply are kind as you listen.

Daily meditation helps with this process of seeing reality as it is. During meditation practice the mind has one task in front of it, one focal point to consider. However, the mind has lingering thoughts, desires and memories alongside the meditation focal point. During this process, the mind thinks positive and negative thoughts, and the meditator learns to patiently accept those thoughts without thinking, simply accepting.

This process of accepting reality without emotion reinforces our ability to make sound business decisions and handle a wide array of work problems with confidence and grace.


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Robert Butera, MDiv, Ph.D., is the author of Meditation for Your Life and The Pure Heart of Yoga. He has studied meditation and yoga since 1984. He founded the YogaLife Institute of Devon, Pennsylvania, where he trains yoga instructors and publishes “Yoga Living Magazine.” His advanced degrees are from the Yoga Institute of Mumbai, India, Earlham School of Religion, and California Institute of Integral Studies. Visit him online.


Do you meditate? If so, have you noticed its influence on your work day? Do you feel meditation has increased your resilience to stress? Do you have an easier time resolving problems? Do you remain energized after a long day?

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