Evidence for the link between employee wellbeing and work performance keeps getting stronger. A recent study showed that engaged employees performed better after companies implemented a physical wellness program.
A popular tool in improving mental wellbeing is the use of mindfulness training and meditation. But does this practice translate well into the workplace?
The Effect of Meditation on the Brain
Long-term meditation offers a massive range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits for its practitioners. Several studies have looked at the brains of expert meditators that have at least 19,000 of practice to identify potential changes that long-term meditation has on the brain. These studies showed increased plasticity in brain tissue and improved brain efficiency in attention-based tasks.
Expert meditators show consistent increases in density and volume of grey brain matter, as well as white brain matter. These structural changes mainly affect areas of the brain responsible for meta-awareness, body awareness, memory, and emotional regulation, suggesting that long-term meditators have altered brain morphology compared to non-meditators.
However, despite these exciting findings, it’s important to note that many studies linking mindfulness and cognitive function are small-scale studies with methodological limitations. However, as the attention on mindfulness and meditation continues to increase, future studies should provide more conclusive results.
Most types of short-term meditation focus on attention and working memory. While short-term meditation may not have the same permanent effect on brain physiology, it still offers plenty of benefits for practitioners. Mindfulness meditation can help stroke patients interact with a brain-computer interface device, help improve executive functioning and enhance the effect of expectations on the participant.
Can Meditation Improve My Focus at Work?
Studies show that regular 20-minute meditation sessions can help participants to lower their stress-related cortisol levels and display better attention on a particular task. Since work-related stress is one of the largest factors of work performance, anything that reduces stress should in some way improve overall work performance.
Short-term meditation also improves:
Creativity plays an under-valued role in most workplaces, but it can help employees solve problems faster and manage conflict better. Emotional control means that you’ll spend less time trying to manage workplace stress and more time focusing on the task at hand.
It appears that meditation becomes more effective the longer you practice it. Short-term meditation can act as a breather from the stress of work and a time to decompress. The improved attention span and ability to handle stress are positives that will affect every aspect of your life, including your ability to focus at work.
How to Use Meditation to Improve Work Focus
Many people struggle to find the time to meditate. However, even a short five-minute mindfulness exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve focus. The simplest mindfulness exercise involves consciously connecting to your senses and body and can take less than a minute. Then you can practice more intensive meditation techniques in the morning or before you go to bed.
As with most techniques to improve wellbeing, meditation works best as a long-term project. Start with five or ten-minute breathing lessons and work your way, and enjoy the improvement in your overall mood, attention span, and stress levels.
About the author: Ludovic Chung-Sao
Ludovic is founder of Zen Soundproof. He uses his experience as a Mechanical Engineer to compile Soundproofing DIY guides. His technical experience and natural curiosity help him break down complex topics to make it clearer for others. He also finds inspiration in sharing mindful habits. Learn more at Zensoundproof.com!