Feeling a little frazzled on the job?
Dreaming of walking out and never going back?
Before taking any drastic measures like that, first, consider bringing a little zen to your workplace.
Believe it or not, the word ‘Zen’ comes from a series of mispronunciation attempts. Yes, it’s actually an attempt by the Japanese to pronounce the Chinese word ch’an (chan), which, in turn, is a Chinese mispronunciation of the Indian practice of Dhyana – meaning, you guessed it… “meditation”.
In the modern world, Zen has become a significant topic of conversation. So, what does this word even mean? Well, Zen cannot be entirely explained in words alone. It’s something that needs to be experienced, and not an idea that you can intelligently rationalize or understand. Zen is more of a question of “when?” rather than “what?”. And the answer to that question? Right here and right now. It’s an attitude of your present mindfulness. It’s about truly living in the here and the now, freeing yourself of all distraction and false conflicts and becoming fully aware of your spiritual and/or emotional connection with the world around you.
So, let’s go back to our original question. Does Zen belong in the workplace? Absolutely. Even for those with no prior experience, who are looking to learn the basics of how to practice mindfulness meditation solutions. Beginner or expert, it doesn’t matter. Zen still belongs everywhere, to anyone who is willing to search for it. A very well-known Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh, states that “Learning the art of stopping, of releasing tension, of using loving speech and deep listening, and sharing this practice with others can have a huge impact on our own enjoyment at work and on our company’s culture.” No matter who you are or what job you have, we all deserve the ability to discover our sense of purpose without all the insignificant worries that usually tag along.
5 Ways to Reduce Stress in the Workplace With Zen Practices
1. Increases Focus & Clarity
When it comes to facing an obstacle at work, we tend to find ourselves giving in to a fight or flight mentality. That’s not healthy. Being able to enjoy that sense of inner peace that meditation creates, we can truly focus on our career goals with a clear mind.
2. Employee Trust & Loyalty
Offering some sort of employee wellness program with meditation practices and other stress-reducing exercises will create a sense of trust and loyalty throughout any office. Less stress means more happy employees, which, in turn, means a company with a low turnover rate.
3. Communication is Key
Human beings tend to express their thoughts more clearly with a clear mind. Communication is key to any successful business and effective communication is just one result of a workforce with increased focus, self-awareness and efficiency.
4. Less Sick Days are Taken
In today’s modern world, it’s almost impossible to avoid stress. Whether you are at home or at work, stress can really damage your health, causing a variety of serious issues. However, if handled properly things can go from chaotic to calm in no time. Adding a bit of Zen to any stressful situation can reduce your risk of depression, heart disease and many other issues caused by everyday anxieties.
5. Efficiency & Productivity
Whether you work in an office with 10 employees or 10,000, increased mindfulness is crucial to increased productivity. Zen can give us the power to free our minds from all distractions, putting us in the here and the now. By becoming mindful of the world around us, we tend to improve in all phases of life, including our jobs. And individual productivity is contagious, which leads to increased profits and a better bottom line.
“When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Love it or hate it, work is work and stressful situations will occur on a regular basis. At most jobs, we often come face-to-face with tight deadlines, annoying co-workers and a staggering number of daily tasks and challenges to overcome. But the work itself might not be causing the stress, it’s actually our natural reaction to let each irritating situation linger within ourselves. The inability to let go is what truly causes the physical and/or mental agony we go through. Stress is often related to a variety of common illnesses, including depression, heart disease, anxiety and many others. That’s why the practice of meditation and positive mindfulness should always be encouraged at your place of work. Zen allows us to see what is causing the pain, aids in the discovery of what it is we’re holding on to and gives us the courage to let go of all the negativity and distress.
Alan Watts describes Zen as, “This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” He also states that “The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” So, if we stop applying our past mistakes to our future problems, we can create a sense of peace by rediscovering the present and owning the now.
So, with all that said… I definitely feel that the practice of Zen or meditation of any kind should regularly play an important role in every workspace. With technology how it is today, anybody can try. Downloading a solid mindfulness app can be done in a matter of minutes. There are even a large variety of apps created to help with learning how to meditate, for beginners especially. Choosing to practice mindfulness at work in order to disengage from the material world should never be frowned upon. As a people, we’re always looking for a more meaningful purpose in life, and the addition of Zen will only help the overall vision and direction of your journey.
“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” – Eckhart Tolle