How to meditate at work
I started doing the Daily Calm with Jennie (the ultimate accountabilibuddy) last July, and after a few weeks, we invited others to join us. The Daily Calm is available with subscription to the Calm app (yes, they have a free trial). The ever-wise Tamara Levitt leads a period of focus on breathing, and then ends with a brief teaching related to meditation—how to manage stress, let go of judgment, and other valuable life stuff.
We practice in the meditation and prayer room at Dropbox, lucky to have a quiet, bookable space with all manner of cushions. Jennie and I take turns hosting at 9:00 am.
When I host, I show up 10 minutes early, tape a sign to the door that says, “Shh… meditation in progress. Join us next time!” I turn off the lights, and at 9:01 am (in case there are stragglers), I play the Daily Calm on a Bluetooth speaker connected to my phone. Before and after, we remain quiet. We say hello, but try to keep the time geared to going inward—early on, we decided not to talk about work in the meditation room. We usually finish by 9:15 am, and just like that, we’re calmer and ready to dive into our respective workstreams.
To keep meditators connected, Jennie created an internal wiki, calendar invite, and Slack channel (see: she’s the ultimate accountabilibuddy). In Slack, we post the weekly meditation topics, send a reminder 10 minutes before each session, and share quotes from the Daily Calm.
Want to start a work practice but don’t have the luxury of a meditation room? Maybe you can book a small meeting room that has frosted glass or curtains. Another option: sit at a nearby park and listen to the Daily Calm with headphones.
If the Daily Calm doesn’t do it for you, the app has a bunch of other meditations. You can also access free guided meditations at Tara Brach’s site and the Headspace app. Not up for daily practice but need a quick way to calm your tornado brain? Try Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Breath.
Why practice at work
- Gives you accountabilibuddies
Before I started meditating at work, I would listen to the Daily Calm during my bus ride to the office. Buuuut, sometimes I’d skip it if I was tired or The New York Times hooked me. I knew that committing to someone other than myself would lead to a more consistent practice.
- Builds community
Along with accountabilibuddies, you can connect with new people at work and get that ever-important reminder: you’re not alone, struggling in the muck. Jennie says, “I meditate at work, rather than before I come into the office, because I want to share the practice with other people. I know I’m not the only one who deals with stress and anxiety at work, so the more I can turn other people on to it, the happier I feel!”
- Don’t have to squeeze in another activity before work
The hours before work are hectic—feeding kiddos and pets, navigating the commute. It’s hard to imagine finding extra time to settle into meditation. Eric Alves, a wondrous UX writer, explains, “My going theory is that I’m too geared toward getting ready and making it to work in the morning, whereas once I’m at the office I can then take better advantage of the benefits of meditation.”
You can calm your mind—yes, you!
Is meditation for everyone? Maybe not. I still can’t convince my mom, who prefers The Sopranos and a splash of Japanese whiskey. Maybe gardening, papier-mâché, or rhythmic gymnastics is your path to a calmer mind.
If you want to start but feel hesitant, here are a few final things to keep in mind:
- Like my wise friend said, “Everyone’s mind is too busy.” And no one’s mind is too busy for meditation.
- As with a puppy, teaching your mind to stay is challenging. When meditation feels difficult, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong—in fact, you can’t do it wrong.
- When you’re super busy, meditation is even more important. It’s tempting to skip it to “save time,” but warming up your focus muscle before work will make you more efficient.
- If you miss a day, a week, or a month, you can start again. Meditating every once in a while is waaay better than not at all.
We want to hear about your experience. Share your medidation journey with us on Twitter @dropboxdesign!