Many business environments have some form of work stress and toxicity. It's not so much a question of their presence, but rather the degree to which they are present. Even great companies with awesome cultures can have doses of work stress and toxicity lurking in the shadows.
Stress and toxicity are not really something I label as “bad”, or say shouldn't exist. Let's be real… human nature means at times we encounter stress (our own or other people's) and at times there may be toxicity present in workplace relationships because not everyone naturally gels – there are personalities clashes, there can be conflicting agendas, and varying levels of individual awareness.
And, there's one simple and proven way to counter that stress and toxicity for yourself, to reduce the level of impact it has on you. Whether it is your stress (e.g. from workload pressure) or someone else's stress (e.g. you're in the firing line of a colleague's issues), you can be in that circumstance and build your immunity to the stress.
Likewise with toxicity, just because you are in the middle of a toxic situation, or on the receiving end of toxic behavior, doesn't mean you have to soak it up like a sponge. You can build your immunity to it.
The Immunity Booster – In More Ways Than One
Simply sit and breathe with focused awareness. That's it. Otherwise known as breathing meditation.
10 minutes. Find a meeting room. Close the door. Sit down. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply, all the way down into your belly (letting your belly rise and fall naturally to the rhythm of your breathing).
Focus all your awareness on your breath. Every time your mind wanders, refocus awareness on your breath.
10 minutes. Every day, at least once a day.
Get started right now and feel the powerfully relaxing, calming benefits of conscious, slow, deep breathing…
Meditation is an Essential Work Task
For your work, this type of short meditation practise is as fundamental as clearing your inbox, clearing your phone messages or focusing on your tasks.
Meditation, when it finds its way into your normal work routine, will become one of the “tasks” that is essential each day, not just for managing stress and toxicity, and not just for ensuring you are able to deliver upon your core commitments in your job, but for actually excelling and going beyond what you think you are capable of.
Feeling Resistant, Heard it All Before, or Rolling Your Eyes?
You might have an idea in your mind that says only stressed out people meditate.
You might have an idea in your mind that says only strange people meditate.
The truth is, smart people meditate.
It Makes Life Easier
In his New York Times Bestseller, “The ONE Thing”, Gary Keller encourages people to consider,
“What’s the 1 Thing you can do, such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” – Gary KELLER
The book is about how to achieve extraordinary results in any situation by using this key question.
I recently realized that meditation is one of my ONE Things.
By doing meditation, it makes everything else easier, and even makes some things unnecessary (because of increased clarity and intuition I don't waste my time on meaningless distractions, nor on paths or tasks that don't really serve my overall goal).
As a reformed stress-monger (about anything and everything), I look back now and cringe a little at how I used to organize, process and deliver my work, how I used to react to problems and difficulty, how I used to seek solutions, and how I used to respond to anything negative or toxic coming at me in the workplace or in life generally.
Sounds cliche, but I WISH I knew then what I know now.
It would have allowed me to navigate myself in my career with so much more ease, grace and, ultimately, with more enjoyment.
The 3 Reasons
I could collate a long list of benefits for you from research that proves why meditation will aid you brilliantly. But to be honest, I much prefer sharing from my personal experience than regurgitating statistics.
So here are three of the key reasons why I now live by the combination of deep breathing and meditation, which has transformed my life and why it is the immunity booster you need for work stress and toxicity:
1. Meditation Cleans Your Mind
“Meditation is nothing but taking a mental shower” – Yogi Bhajan
Meditation cleanses your mind – it's a mental shower. You shower your body every day and wouldn't think of going more than 24 hours without cleaning yourself. You certainly don't turn up to work day after day without showering. It would be considered unhygienic and inappropriate, and if you didn't instruct yourself into daily showering, your workplace would certainly insist upon it! So why would you not take a mental shower? Your mind is your most powerful tool for your work right now and for your career long term, as important as your body. Stress and toxicity each day muddy your mind, and that mud builds up over time. An unhygienic mind is as troubling as an unhygienic body. The only reason we can get away with an unhygienic mind is that no one else can see it.
Deep breathing calms you – it's medicine for your body.
To quote the genius of Dr Libby Weaver, “If there is one simple thing that you can do for your health each day it is to take 5 minutes to focus on your breath. Diaphragmatic breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows our bodies to go into rest and repair mode – essential for immune function, digestion, restful sleep and a great mood – as it communicates to every cell in your body that you are safe. We cannot access this part of our nervous system with our thoughts, only via how we breathe. It is amazing what our bodies can do with just a few minutes of calming, diaphragmatic breathing each day.”
2. Mimic Success – Meditate!
I love this quote from Tony Robbins…
“Long ago, I realized that success leaves clues, and that people who produce outstanding results do specific things to create those results” – Tony Robbins
Irrespective of building immunity to stress and toxicity, meditation can powerfully support your outer goals and success.
You only need to search online and you will easily find many reputable articles listing high level business executives who use regular meditation as a core part of their recipe for success. And on that note, it's not just traditional notions of success (because you can be “successful” by some standards and be a cot case at the same time!) but success across all areas – with your sanity, clarity, calm, well-being and life balance in tact.
3. Open the Floodgates to Intuition & Creativity
If you want enhanced intuition and clarity for decision making, plus more creativity and new inspirations, do regular meditation.
I've noticed consistently that more ideas come flooding in after meditating. When I have fallen off the meditation wagon, I've felt blocked up and unclear. It directly affects the quality of my work.
At times my articles, vlogs and courses seem to script themselves after meditating. My level of stress over issues or situations is considerably reduced after meditating. My ability to be at peace around other people who are stressed or toxic is dramatically improved after meditating. None of this was the case a few years ago, when I had no immunity to stress or toxicity, and when meditation had no place in my life.
And if you prefer to take a Harvard Neuroscientist's word for it, there is research showing that after just 8 weeks of meditation, the brain changes, not only reducing stress but improving various brain functions in a way that can enhance both your work and your overall life experience.
“New Age” is Not New Age
It's no surprise that active practises of conscious living, presence, awareness/mindfulness and meditation are no longer “new age” and are finally increasingly seen as not only common sense personally and professionally, but actually as age-old wisdom.
What was once referred to as “new age” a few decades ago when it all started to gain momentum in the western world, was really the re-emergence of centuries old wisdom navigating it's way back into society and systems that had long forgotten its value.