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"Do you know that our soul is composed of harmony"
Stress in the Workplace American Psychological Association
In today's economic upheavals, downsizing, layoff, merger and bankruptcies have cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs. Millions more have been shifted to unfamiliar tasks within their companies and wonder how much longer they will be employed. Adding to the pressures that workers face are new bosses, computer surveillance of production, fewer health and retirement benefits, and the feeling they have to work longer and harder just to maintain their current economic status. Workers at every level are experiencing increased tension and uncertainty, and are updating their resumes.
Numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders. In New York, Los Angels and other municipalities, the relationship between job stress and heart attacks is so well acknowledged, that any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work related injury and is compensated accordingly (including heart attack sustained while fishing on vacation or gambling in Las Vegas).
A subsequent 2000 Integra Survey similarly reported that:
•65% of workers said that workplace stress had caused difficulties and more than 10 percent described these as having major effects
•10% said they work in an atmosphere where physical violence has occurred because of job stress and in this group, 42% report that yelling and other verbal abuse is common
•29% had yelled at co-workers because of workplace stress, 14% said they work where machinery or equipment has been damaged because of workplace rage and 2% admitted that they had actually personally struck someone
•19% or almost one in five respondents had quit a previous position because of job stress and nearly one in four have been driven to tears because of workplace stress
•62% routinely find that they end the day with work-related neck pain, 44% reported stressed-out eyes, 38% complained of hurting hands and 34% reported difficulty in sleeping because they were too stressed-out
•12% had called in sick because of job stress
•Over half said they often spend 12-hour days on work related duties and an equal number frequently skip lunch because of the stress of job demands
Why Are Companies Embracing Mindfulness?
So what are some of the benefits of embracing mindfulness at work? Before we get into the science, let’s hear from a few folks who are actually implementing mindfulness in the workplace.
A good friend of mine is a MIT trained PHD and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at a successful tech firm on the East Coast. Like a lot of tech firms, his business is expanding rapidly and so are his responsibilities. When I asked him how his meditation practice impacts his performance as CTO in a rapidly changing environment he said, “Through my meditation practice, I cultivate both an awareness of what needs to be done and the clarity to respond with effective action.”
Kim Nicols asked some of her business clients why they meditate. “One client meditates for four minutes before every important sales call, because it helps him feel centered, grounded, relaxed and confident.” And another one of her clients “schedules her most important meetings for the afternoon following our on-site meditation class. When I asked her why, she said, ‘After meditation, I feel like I can handle anything.'”
Mindfulness at work
My good friend Steve is a senior consultant at the marketing software company HubSpot in Cambridge, MA. He’s a long-time meditator and organizes a volunteer meditation group for HubSpot employees. When I asked him why he started the Hubspot meditation group, he said he does it so that everyone can feel what it’s like to have no problems. “When you start your day with 20 minutes of stillness, focus, and relaxation, you realize that whatever you may have been worried about that day is small potatoes. In business we’re often dealing with problems of one kind or another; meditation helps reset the way we look at them and spot new solutions.”
Of course some mindfulness advocates and practitioners are critical of this trend of mindfulness in the workplace, dubbing it the McMindfulness movement. And it’s worth noting their objections. One New Yorker article explores this in depth, and I resonate with their conclusions when they write that, “On the spectrum of misappropriation, using self-advancement as a lure seems forgivable enough if it leads people to try a technique as subtly transformative as mindfulness. (Indeed, if personal betterment is America’s religion, such an approach might be seen as syncretic.) What can be lost by broadening access to a philosophy of liberation, even if a majority of people conflate it with the more vulgar priorities of our culture?”
Stress reduction is one of the most important results of receiving sound therapy. Stress is the underlying cause of many physical conditions and it melts away with ease when you are bathed in a sea of sound healing vibrations.
Sound Therapy is so effective because it influences our emotional bodies as well as our physical bodies. Emotional imbalances are at the root of many physical diseases and when we heal our emotional bodies, the physical symptoms disappear. Sound and emotions are deeply connected. Human emotions have their immediate expression through sound, and it is often the repression of the sound of the emotions that creates emotional blockages. Conversely, sound can be used to unlock the blocked emotions and release them with ease and grace.
An increasing number of mainstream medical and education institutions around the world use healing affects of Himalayan singing bowls and gongs as a vital process of cancer treatment. Deepak Chopra Centre in California has found that the sound of Himalayan singing bowls is chemically metabolised in the body as the endogenous opioid, which works as internal medicine and pain reduction.