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Simple Meditation Techniques To Enhance Your Productivity

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At times, the workplace can be a stressful place to be. Whether you are faced with demanding clients, even more demanding colleagues, or just the incessant activity of the environment itself, the workplace can at times feel like it is exerting a pressure down upon your shoulders that is difficult to extricate yourself from.

Not only is this unhealthy and detrimental to your wellbeing, it is also highly counterproductive for your organization. A stressed or unhappy employee is, for the most part, an unproductive employee who you do not necessarily want interacting with valuable clients, while its difficult to forge fruitful relationships with co-workers.

However, with these easy-to-use techniques, you can help turn your business space into an oasis of calm, boosting your work productivity at the same time.

At-desk meditations

It may be that you want to invoke some form of meditative state, but the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself from wide-eyed colleagues. If this sounds like you, then there are a number of at-desk meditations you can perform which will not only assist in destressing and boosting performance, but will do so without attracting unwelcome glances.

Here are a few of the most easy to use:

1. Tap your fingers to the rhythm of time

Put both of your hands on your thighs or on your desk, and proceed to start tapping each finger individually, starting with your pinky finger. It is important that you use a sequence, and time it effectively to a slow rhythm. The last part is to then recite a five-word mantra that relates to time.

There is an infinity of options here, but you could go with ‘I do have enough time’ or ‘Time is my best friend’. The idea is to create a zen-like state where you are breathing regularly and focussing on the small activity at hand (literally). Continue until your breathing has become regular and the repeated-mantra has eased though you to your core.

This is an immensely achievable meditative process that I love to utilize in any number of situations because it is so private.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Shake it off

Now is the time to focus on exactly what or who is causing your stress. Take some time out, sit quietly on your chair, and take a few deep breaths while you think about the origin of your stress. Next, start to recite to yourself a mantra along the lines of ‘It’s OK and I can move on from this.’ Then, start to take a few deeper breaths and use the time you breathe out to really sigh away your frustration.

Finally, shake your body to release the tension from you. There is no need to make any deep noises or draw unwanted attention to yourself, but that really shouldn’t be a consideration anyway, and will only exacerbate your stress in the process. This is about breathing and release.

3. Eyes to the flame

If you are feeling a little braver, and you understand that an open flame will not cause any undue disquiet in the workplace around you (or that you are breaking any health and safety regulations), using a candle can be a wonderful tool to help create a meditative state. Start by switching off your computer. In fact, this is a good place to begin with any meditative activity as the glare from the screen will distract your attention.

Light the candle and then bring the flame towards your eye level, holding it approximately 20 inches away, or into a position that is comfortable. Then, stare into the flame for up to 2 minutes, remembering to breathe regularly as you do so.

“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama

Meditations for a private space

If you have access to a private space in the workplace, there are other types of meditative positions which you can undertake, including, lying on the floor. Lying down immediately helps to put you in an unfamiliar position for work, which is helpful in itself, but a familiar position for feeling comforted and relaxed.

Close your eyes and then once again, start to breathe in a rhythmic manner. It is essential that your breathing becomes your primary focus, so you breathe in and out with a deep concentration on what you are doing.

When starting out, five minutes is more than apt, as long as that’s five minutes of a concentrated nature. You can then start to push out those times, and there is no reason why before long you shouldn’t be able to manage 20 minutes of perfect meditative calm. This can easily be done during a lunch break or even a mid-morning break.

There are also walking meditations for more adventurous types, which involves focusing on your steps and breaths simultaneously, concentrating always on a forward motion, both literally and figuratively. Emotional calmness and wellbeing in the workplace is just around the corner.

Have you tried meditation? If so, do you like it? Let us know your thoughts about meditation below!

Life

7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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Life

The Problem Is Not Actually the Problem: Here’s Why

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With my understanding of the Three Principles, which is deepening month-by-month, I’m becoming more curious about whether the ‘problem’ that we think we have, is really a problem. Not for one second am I dismissing a persons’ experience; I’m human after all and I encounter challenges and what I think are ‘problems’ just like the next person. (more…)

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