Proven Benefits of Meditation in the Workplace and Beyond

When it comes to meditation initiatives in businesses and bigger organizations, it might be time to rebrand meditation – not as a luxury for when you have the time, but as something as fundamental to well-being as sanitizing your hands. Here are some concrete benefits of using meditation in the workplace.
Insight Timer is the top free meditation app on iOS and Android.
Insight Timer is the top free meditation app on iOS and Android.

In the wake of a public health crisis instigated by the Coronavirus, businesses are taking their corporate responsibility seriously and doing what they can to create a workplace atmosphere that is truly conducive to human well-being.

Meditation has long been championed as a potent mental health tool for reducing brain fog, improving sleep quality, relieving depression and anxiety symptoms, and improving self-esteem. Still need to convince skeptics? Here are some proven of benefits of meditation that directly contribute to improved well-being at work, which is a space we spent ⅓ of our lives at.

Meditation can immunize staff against burnout

A 2013 study from the Center of Mind and Brain at UC Davis has demonstrated a direct, linear relationship between scores on a mindfulness scale and levels of stress hormone in the body – that is, cortisol. “The more a person reported directing their cognitive resources to immediate sensory experience and the task at hand, the lower their resting cortisol,” said lead researcher Tonya Jacobs.

Elevated cortisol levels are already known to be associated with stress and poor health outcomes overall. What this finding confirms is that the state of calmness cultivated during meditation is not just subjective – there are measurable physiological results.

Meditation improves emotional regulation

During meditation, practitioners learn to take a step back from their immediate sensations and perceptions; instead of getting embroiled in strong emotions, they can become aware of themselves, disidentifying with transient states. It turns out that this phenomenon is reflected in the brain – researchers have found that meditation alters activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that’s responsible for processing and integrating emotions. Meditators are found to be more emotionally resilient, and able to consciously direct and control their own emotional state.

Meditation boosts cognitive performance

Findings published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement suggest that meditation improves the ability to maintain attention, make better decisions, solve problems, deal effectively with crises and cultivate superior critical thinking – with measurable changes to the brain. A paper in Scientific Reports even found that certain neural changes were sustained in the long term, and could help offset the effects of neurodegeneration.

Meditation can improve workplace harmony

Group meditation may feel a little awkward for employees unfamiliar with the practice, but many workplaces are discovering that this reluctance quickly gives way to a heightened sense of group cohesion and coordination.

With so many people feeling isolated after months of working from home, a collective effort that acknowledges a shared need for mental health maintenance can do surprising things for morale. Teams that meditate together, it seems, develop more trust and open-mindedness. A loving-kindness meditation, for example, can foster powerful positive feelings and genuine care and respect in the office. 

Meditation supports the immune system

Prolonged stress and tension can actively compromise our immune systems and leave us more vulnerable to infections. An underappreciated side effect of mindfulness practice is how it may support immune function. A 2016 study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences shows tentative but promising evidence that meditation reduces inflammation, improves immunity, and even moderates the effects of biological aging.

Meditation. Free.