When most people think about meditation, the word “productivity” doesn’t usually come to mind. Yet research shows that by incorporating even 10 minutes of a meditative-like practice into one’s day increases focus, decreases stress, and even increases cognitive ability result. Nortel, Texas Instruments, Raytheon, Google, Apple and many other companies are finding meditation and yoga to be efficient ways to motivate and energize the employees.
While one beneficial outcome of meditation is a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind and body, recent scientific fMRI imaging demonstrates that there is a business case for supporting and even encouraging meditation practices in the workplace. Numerous studies reveal that meditators show higher levels of: a) mindfulness (e.g., being calm, present, and intentional in choices and actions), b) attention (e.g., increased focus, sustained attention, reduced likelihood of distraction), and c) cognitive flexibility (e.g., ability to problem solve, analyze, and think creatively). Scientists also discovered that meditators had more positive moods, were more resilient to change, and generally experienced a greater sense of well-being.
These findings hold true for people who meditate for very short periods of time as well as those who are practiced meditators. Several studies showed that brief meditation training reduced fatigue, stress, and anxiety, and increased mindfulness and focus. In those same studies, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning (or cognitive flexibility skills). This finding suggested that even just four days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention and enhance cognitive flexibility—benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.
Fundamentally, research has proven that meditation increases all the functions that lend themselves to a highly engaged, healthy (mind and body), and productive workforce. When people take a brief moment throughout the day to sit quietly, deep breathe, temporarily shut out external distractions, and place internal distractions on hold, their ability to perform their daily responsibilities increases significantly.