Meditation at Work
Haven Yoga shares the effectiveness of meditation practices in the corporate world to improve productivity…
Recently, Haven Yoga provided a 30-minute introduction to meditation session to a small group of CEOs, Directors and General Managers at the monthly Breakfast of Champions held in Brisbane. The corporate environment operates at a rapid pace and can often foster a workplace of high stress. As a business owner herself, Haven Yoga’s Teacher, Jane Toohey understands this and the importance to take time to recharge and learn how to relax and free the mind.
This 30-minute session worked through 4 key exercises:
To begin the session, bring everyone to a state of presence and elicit the relaxation response, we began by focussing on our breath ratio. By inhaling and exhaling at a 40:60 ratio, we can shift our physiological state from flight or fight to the relaxation response. It can also shift our psychological state from a negative bias to a positive one.
We then moved onto a body scan, lighting up the cortical maps in the brain. This part of the brain is called the homunculus. It’s important to understand that your face, eyes, lips, hands and feet have very competitive real estate in your brain. They tend to heighten your experience of life and are often the most sensitive parts of your body. The body scan aims to balance the whole body and remap that picture in the brain to elicit the brain-body connection.
We began our body scan from the top of the head and moved through the body to heightened our sensory perception of the whole body. This starts to form our true experience of the brain-body recognition and enable the mind to tune in and potentially heal the body through breath and focus.
Breath Led Meditation
The third exercise focussed on connecting to your own heartbeat, a form of introception. Each individual was asked to inhale and notice if the speed of the heart rate slowed. Then, to notice the out-breath and if this speeds or slows the heart rate. For those of us experiencing a state of anxiety in the here and now, we can use the long out-breath to slow the heart rate and calm any anxiety.
To end this exercise, we brought the breath to the belly. This is just one brilliant way to affect the tone of our nervous system, improves levels of our calm and the connection hormone (oxytocin) and improves our digestion and possibly even the diversity of our biome in the gut (more on this in future blogs).
To end the session, we concentrated on mindful eating exercise, to help develop the mind-body connection and encourage people to make better food choices and assist in positive eating behaviours. We place a grape or a blueberry slowly in the mouth and experience its shape and size before we take the first bite. Then, we focus entirely on the senses in the mouth as we chew the fruit for at least 25 chews. There are some 500 million brain neurons in the gut, mindful eating helps as tune into the gut-brain and overall helps to calm the nervous system.
Bill Ford. The executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, Ford takes time to meditate each day, no matter what. During his close call with bankruptcy nearly a decade ago, Ford admitted in a Harvard Business Review piece, “The practice of mindfulness kept me going during the darkest days.” Meditation helped him improve his productivity but also to make decisions with compassion and kindness.