Courage to start a meditation group@work

Beginning a group meditation practice at work can feel a little daunting. However, working through who, where, when, what and how questions will help to solidify your goal and to bring others onboard.

You likely already know why you want to start a group meditation practice. The benefits of group meditation have been in the media for several years and we shared our own top 6 benefits. More recent studies suggest that participating in a group meditation has greater benefits in reducing stress than practicing alone. Not only are the evening news and newspaper articles touting the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, scientific research in this area has increased with publications in popular and scientific journals.

Yet, another why question that might be lurking in the back of your mind is – why have a group meditation practice at work? Maybe you haven’t noticed that Google, SAP, Salesforce, BlackRock, K-12 schools, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, branches of the US military and House of Lords of the United Kingdom – to name some recognizable and diverse organizations – have embedded meditation and mindfulness into their culture. The benefits are: employees respond instead of react to in-the-moment stressful situations, students are more attentive in classrooms, bullying decreases, employees have fewer sick days, higher productivity and longer attention spans. With a reduction in stress driven reactions we are able to be more focused, creative, open-minded and productive at work and school. Your organization benefits by becoming an attractive employer, retaining highly-skilled employees, reducing stress and creating a calmer workspace.

With the overwhelming benefits of starting a group meditation practice at work covered here’s a checklist to move you through the process. This will answer the who, where, when, what and how questions. Use these questions to think about how your organization can establish a meditation program and reap the benefits.

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Starting a group meditation practice at work - daunting maybe, Doable yes!

Who to invite

  • Keep it small

  • 3 – 4 interested colleagues is a good start

  • Inquire about individual interest in person to get a good idea about how they feel

  • Notice who talks about wanting to meditate or who already meditates

Where to practice

  • Scout out a quiet room in a lightly trafficked area with window coverings and away from the elevator or a place where people gather

  • Choose a room that is free of clutter, easy to clean white boards and free of neglected technology

  • Notice if the ventilation system is noisy, if the room has “thin” walls and if there are enough chairs and space

When to practice

  • Agree on the time, before work, during lunch, during breaks (lunch can be more trying as people tend to run errands during lunch)

  • Schedule weekly 30-minute blocks of time

  • Choose a consistent time and location to help build everyone’s practice into a habit

  • Put the scheduled time in personal calendars

What to do

  • Have clear guidelines for time, location, and format

  • Lead a meditation for 15 – 20 minutes (practicing as a group has greater benefits than individuals doing their own thing in the same room)

  • Use the remaining minutes to share experiences, encourage each other and celebrate successes

  • Review the time of the next session to confirm and support each other

How to conduct a practice

  • Encourage everyone to sit upright in a comfortable dignified matter

  • Invite participants to close their eyes (if they are comfortable) or have a soft gaze downward to reduce distractions

  • Start on time and end on time

  • Use a timer (Insight Timer App)

  • Choose a simple meditation like breath awareness

  • If saying “Om”, “namaste” or bowing your head feels out of place, don’t!

  • Repeat the same meditation for several weeks to build comfort, consistency and confidence

With several weeks underway take some time to gather stories about the impact of the weekly sessions. Ask your group what’s been the impact on their productivity, relationships at work, health and well-being. This will help you and your group to reflect on personal growth and how to build a sustainable meditation group practice at work.

Connect to discover how The YOU in You Consulting can collaborate with your organization to grow a mindfulness culture.

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