In our press for greater productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness, there’s one tool that’s often overlooked. A collective pause.
While individuals are sitting in meditation increasingly to stave off burnout, reconnect with purpose, and refresh the mind, teams also have a lot to benefit from this practice. Just two minutes of meditation to start a meeting can help to make the coming brainstorm or decision process more effective. I’ll share just two simple reasons.
We’ve all experienced times when we were not fully present for the discussion at hand. Colleagues would see me sitting there with my shirt buttoned up and my pen hand poised over my notebook as if rapt to every word, but that was a mirage. I was vacant, a million miles away, reflecting on the meeting I just ran from, other work that needed attention, or simply suffering a lack of interest (cue the languishing article).
A mindful moment to start a meeting allows everyone to release their mental activity and dissuades constant multitasking. This encourages the team to focus on the present moment in a way that promotes effective participation. You might say it helps level the playing field, so that one particularly stressed team member has a chance to regroup and contribute as much as the colleague who just returned from vacation.
This is where I get far out, but stay with me. We vibrate energy; all life is rhythmic whether we acknowledge it or not, which is why we say, “you’re on my wavelength,” when we connect with someone. In the past I couldn’t always name it, but I would feel the effects of sitting through a meeting in which each participant is slowly infected with the prevailing mood of the leader or most vocal person. It takes a lot of practice and presence to protect your energy. But what if you could encourage everyone present to bring their best vibes to the room from the outset? When we pause together, it also increases the likelihood that we will breathe together, in time, fuller, slower.
Parents know the beauty of this. They may experience it when comforting a child or putting them to sleep. When our breathing pattern syncs up with another human’s, especially when the rate is relaxed or even, we are calmed. When we are calm, we have greater access to the juiciest, highest order thinking parts of our brain. No more fight or flight, or hunter-gatherer nonsense. Bring on the innovation.
If you’re tempted to scoff at the seeming insignificance of two minutes, I invite you to try it. Sit with eyes closed at your desk or boardroom table and see how quickly you’re trying to peek at your phone, email, or fingernails. Two minutes is the gateway meditation drug for the office set, and yet can be surprisingly difficult given our propensity to go farther, faster, do more, treating amber lights as green until the cherries flash behind us. And yes, allocate five minutes if you can!
So give it a shot with your team. Once everyone arrives, set a timer, put the devices down (for virtual meetings simply back away a little from the screen, keyboard, and the like), sit tall with feet connected to the ground, close your eyes, inhale, exhale, repeat. It can help to focus attention on the feeling of air entering and leaving the nose. When the time is up, encourage everyone to keep those devices out of sight and ease in by confirming the purpose of the meeting and participant roles. You may even end your meeting five minutes early thanks to the quicker collaboration. Let me know.
Yoga for Runners
to complement your run training.