Meditation Rooms: Finding Zen at Work

Welcome to a new year!  Although exciting, each turn of the calendar brings its own set of challenges.  Suddenly, you encounter pressure to know things.  For example, what are your resolutions?  Then, what are your goals?  Also, within all this, when will you find time to reflect on the items you wish to accomplish?  Alternatively, when will you find time to simply decompress and unwind?  If you are unsure about when you will find the time, or a quiet space where you can commit to reflecting and decompressing, then you need to know about meditation rooms.

Let’s dive into all things encompassing meditation rooms so that you can find Zen anywhere—including at work.

What is meditation?

Although commonly associated with ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions, you do not need to subscribe to any particular religion to appreciate meditation.  In fact, the English word meditation is derived from the Latin term meditari, meaning to concentrate.

While some cultures engage in meditation for spiritual purposes, the practice exceeds the bounds of spiritualism.  Additionally, many doctors, sports psychologists, and life coaches preach the benefits of meditation as a component of healing, competition, and motivation. 

So, what does it mean to find Zen within the scope of meditation?  Well, Zen is simply one form of meditation, although the one that we probably hear of the most.  Nevertheless, it seems that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact definition of Zen.  In brief, some describe it as achieving a state of calm attentiveness, being mindful of the true nature of yourself and your surroundings.  Furthermore, Zen and meditation go hand in hand, since Zen comes from the Chinese word chan, meaning meditation.

What is a meditation room?

Now, here’s some food for thought.  You see, most of us don’t realize that we currently practice meditation.  In fact, many of us already have a meditation room, which has either two or four doors and plenty of natural light.  That’s right, it is our car.  How many times have you arrived at work, turned off the car, closed your eyes, taken a deep breath and then repeated some mantra before finally getting out of the car?  “I’ve got this.  Nothing’s too big,” I’ve said to myself on many occasions. 

While the car can be a useful place for a moment’s meditation, the downside is that it is a bit of a fishbowl.  If you sit in there too long with your eyes closed mouthing words to yourself, someone is bound to knock to see if you are ok, or to call the authorities. 

Still, the purpose of the meditation room is the same as the way you use your car.  It’s enclosed, (semi)private, and quiet (depending on where you park).  Simply put, a meditation room provides a degree of separation from you and the rest of the world so that you can get your thoughts in order.

What is the science behind all this?

Image of a silhouette of a face with the words "Practice Being Present," and the skull opening to reveal words such as breathe, sense, now, here, etc.
Image by John Hain

So, even if many of us practice meditation to some degree, you might still be leery of committing to designating space specifically for meditation.  Therefore, you probably want a little scientific evidence or data to support your concept.  If so, here are some interesting facts about the benefits of meditation:

  • First, meditation may improve focus.  Studies show that people who practice Zen meditation have better focus, attention, and the ability to limit distraction, compared with non-meditating peers.  The science behind this highlights the meditator’s regular practice of focus.  So, naturally, if you practice something, you’ll likely refine the skills you are working on.  It’s interesting to think that we can actually focus on focusing! 
  • Second, meditation may improve lung function.  Now, this is an interesting one.  Studies by the Lung Institute report that people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who practice regular meditation are more successful at managing their breathing, and consequently feel improved moods.  Furthermore, the report states that the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems also experience positive effects.
  • Third, meditation may lower stress.  Simply put, practicing meditation can be very relaxing and enjoyable.  Additionally, as previously mentioned, various systems of the body are positively impacted, even without you being aware of it.  Therefore, when you engage in an activity that helps these systems and makes you feel good, your stress lowers naturally.

So, what does this mean for the workplace?  Well, imagine a company full of people who pay attention and aren’t distracted, whose health is ideal because of their ability to breathe deeply, and whose stress levels remain low due to their intentional focus on being present.  It sounds a bit like utopia, doesn’t it?

What can you do in the room?

While the idea of a true meditation room is quite appealing, the beauty of it is that it can actually be a multipurpose room.  Here are some other things your meditation room can be used for:

Breastfeeding or pumping – In 2020, breastfeeding and pumping will no doubt be even more acceptable than it had been in previous years.  As trends show that breastfeeding is on the rise, a dedicated place at work for nursing and pumping mothers is imperative.   

Prayer – Similar to meditation, prayer can help improve focus and clarity for those who regularly practice.  Additionally, daily prayer is an integral part of many cultures.  So, as the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse, it is important to recognize the need for a quiet, private space for people to practice their religion.

Yoga – Stretching is not the only thing you do when you practice yoga.  In fact, yoga integrates deep stretching, along with meditation, controlled breathing, and strength training.  The best part, however, is that it can be done within the confines of a limited schedule, and with minimal sweat!  So, consider opening up your meditation room for yogis to sneak in a quick session.

Private Calls – Most of us have been in a pinch where we need to take a call without the office gossip listening in.  Perhaps you are trying to get qualified for a mortgage, your doctor is calling about recent tests, or you have a family member in crisis.  There are countless reasons why you might need to take a personal call at work, but it doesn’t need to be everyone else’s business.  So, allowing a meditation room to be a place for people to quickly and privately take care of something important is a nice idea. 

Where should you put a meditation room?

The great thing about figuring out a location for your meditation room is that it doesn’t necessarily require tearing down walls or building an addition to your workplace.  In fact, you can simply take an empty office, or even a large storage closet, and transform it into your dedicated space. 

Photo of a large meditation room at work.
Photo by Nate Vack | CC By

Still, it is important to make sure that your room is temperature controlled with appropriate ventilation.  Additionally, you might want to consider having carpet, or at least a rug for comfort on the floor.  While seating is a plus, make sure the furniture doesn’t take up too much space.  In other words, you’ll want to allow people plenty of room to move freely or lie down, depending on how they plan to use the room.

Meditate on a Meditation Room

While no one expects you to run up to work on your day off to create a meditation room, it is wise to get the ideas flowing.  Creating a meditation room can greatly impact your office environment, culture, and individual health.  Furthermore, the room can be multi-purpose, so that even those not practicing meditation can benefit from the space.

Now, go ahead and jot down a few plans for your meditation room so that you can find Zen at work.  It doesn’t need to happen over night, but you can sleep on it.  Better yet, meditate on it.

Photo of a man thinking.

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This is not meant to provide legal counsel or advice. Every situation is different. Please contact an HR professional or employment attorney before taking any action.

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