Your boss is constantly bugging you like some kind of unreasonable Neanderthal? Meetings bleed into lunch breaks? In short, the office alphabet only spells one name, and that is stress?
It may be about time to take a deep breath. Like real deep. The breath of meditation. A breath so deep it can change things in unthinkable ways. Indeed, meditation isn’t just a technique to recharge your batteries and connect with one’s self. Nor is it just a noble practice for protecting the truest and frailest part of our selves from psychic stress any longer. No, meditation is a way. And like all ways, it makes any activity more fruitful. Even normal everyday office work, thanks to the very benefits of meditation, can become more productive, more lighthearted, better. It isn’t just the mind that’s at work, because the mind interacts positively with every molecule in the body. If an unhappy employee is less productive, the only way towards better work is happiness. And this is what science tells us.
Meditation makes us happy. Beginning with our chromosomes.
Besides the ancient and mysterious intuitions from eastern texts and scholars, only in the last fifty years the world of Western science, armed with a microscope and an opened mind, got closer to the fascinating enigma of the power of meditation, and its remarkable powers over body and mind.
Among the many scientists, surely Elizabeth Blackburn, Australian biologist and Nobel prize winner, has been a true pioneer. Her theory on how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase has finally put anatomy and meditation on a common plane. Telomeres can in turn be protected and nurtured by the “present tranquillity” that is achieved through practice. Therefore: if stress may speed up deterioration in cells that feel attacked, the liberating energy from breath-related meditation practices can protect them and foster their regeneration.
Indeed, since the 1960’s multiple studies have placed mental and physical energy on the same level. Take these words from Coventry University scientist, Ivana Buric (UK):
“Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.”
From coffee break to “meditation break”?
Given these premises, it’s only logical that, from Europe to North America, meditation, like cosmic fresh air, is entering many offices. This is in part thanks to the fact that all you need is your own breath. Of the many positive experiences that are occurring the world over, a case worth noting is the one involving former Google engineer, Chade Meng Tan, who persuaded his Mountain View employers of the need to implement a course to teach meditation techniques inside the company, in order to stimulate emotional intelligence and promote well-being.
But what if your workplace isn’t behind a desk but down in the trenches? If your job is being a soldier and exposition to stress is an all-out siege? Far from supporting any kind of war, one particular instance feels emblematic: the case of general Walter Piatt, stationed in Iraq. This high ranking U.S. officer used to meditate every morning in front of a palm tree, according to the mindfulness practice. His words on the matter are as follows:
“There’s a stereotype [meditation] makes you soft. No, it brings you on point.”
Wishing the military may meditate until they reach a state of equilibrium and inner peace so profound that they may finally lay their weapons to rest, we firmly believe the job of the future is first and foremost to learn to meditate. And then find anything else to do, and do it in the best possible way, as simply as breathing.