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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meditation reduces work stress: study

A new study finds that becoming more focused, productive and less stressed at work may involve nothing more than learning to meditate.

David Levy, a computer scientist and professor with the Information School at the University of Washington, found that those who had meditation training were able to stay on task longer and were less distracted. Levy and his co-authors discovered that meditation also improved test subjects' memory while easing their stress.

Some companies, such as Google, even teach their workers to meditate.

If yours doesn't, you can still sneak it in. Even if you're sitting a cubicle and you don't want to get a rep as the office meditator (not that there's anything wrong with that -- and maybe there would be things right with it if people notice your calm and focused demeanor and ask what your secret is) you can meditate at work.

Look at your computer screen or a document but soften your gaze so that you're not absorbing what's there. Focus instead on your breathing. Know that you're breathing in; know that you're breathing out. Focusing on your breath cuts off the fight-or-flight impulse and activates your parasympathetic nervous system.

Pick a number ahead of time or watch the clock on your computer. Consciously breath for 27 breaths or three minutes or whatever works for you. Go back to your task with a clearer mind.

You can do that many times a day.

A screensaver with drips of paint
And if you also practice at home, for 10 or 15 minutes or more, your body and mind learn to recognize that you're calming down, and you'll switch into it more quickly.