But stress can, of course, also be hugely damaging. A significant section of the workforce is affected by stress-related illness at some time during their working lives. At the very least, stress can cause us to feel negative and to behave inappropriately towards clients and colleagues. It causes inefficiency and can affect our ability to make decisions. Stress causes the muscles to tense and can lead to tension headaches and high blood pressure. At its worst, stress can kill. The evolutionary explanation
For most of mankind’s evolutionary existence we lived very close to nature in a pretty threatening environment. We needed to be able to respond rapidly to the sudden appearance of a poisonous snake or a sabre-tooth tiger. Therefore, when a human feels under threat, the brain triggers a “fight or flight” response. The body becomes flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, breathing becomes more rapid and the heart rate and blood pressure increase. This would have enabled pre-historic man to fight or run away from whatever was causing the threat. Unfortunately, not many 21st century workplace environments consider the ability to physically fight or to run away as a particularly positive reaction. Modern science takes note
Can something as simple and straightforward as meditation really have a positive impact on how we react to potentially stressful situations? The scientists seem to believe that regular meditation can genuinely help to reduce stress and assist us in responding more positively to stressful situations. When Jon Kabat-Zing published the book, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
(Delta, 1991), conventional scientists started to sit up and take note that meditation might actually make a difference. Since then neuroscientists have investigated whether regular meditation might actually cause changes in the structure of the brain
. It’s a claim that we really cannot ignore. This is (literally) mind-blowing stuff. Meditation - Making a start
So you’ve decided that you want to try meditation to see whether it might help you to cope with your everyday work stresses? Or maybe you’re an employer who wants to help encourage staff to meditate if it might help them to cope with the stress of office life?
For a spiritual meditation experience, take a look at the link how to meditate
, which includes a free 13-minute guided meditation
For non-faith/secular meditations there are a wide range of apps and downloads available for your phone or computer. Maybe try the Jon-Kabat-Zinn recordings
if you want to hear it from the man who brought mindfulness to the masses.
Once you are a regular practitioner of meditation, you’ll find that you have it in yourself to remain calm and focused at work. You’ll probably find yourself treating yourself and others with more compassion and respect. That can’t be bad, can it?