We all know how stress affects our lives, but we are just beginning to find out how it affects the places we work and the bottom line.
The World Health Organization reported that stress costs American businesses about $300 billion per year. Are we at a turning point? If so, it appears CEO’s have an opportunity to lead the way.
As Vice president of General Mills, Deputy General Counsel, Janice Marturano was able to harness an opportunity to get employees meditating. As she explains to Huffington Post Live host Alicia Menedez, the results were suprising, even with a brief daily practice.
“We are starting with maybe a 10 or 15-minute sitting practice in the morning, but all through our day, we’re learning to take purposeful pauses,” she says. “Once you start to become aware of the sensations of your breath and your body, for example, when I’m sitting in a conference room and now my mind goes off to my three o’clock meeting in the afternoon instead of listening to what I have to listen to here, I can more readily begin to realize when my mind takes a hike and most importantly I know how to redirect that attention by using either the sensations of the breath in my body or feeling my feet on the ground under the table and I can bring my attention back.”
Marturano, who now works on mindfulness full time as founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, argues that being able to return to the present moment is key to any company.
“That translates into productivity, it translates into me being able to make better choices and better decisions because I’m actually here, in the meeting.”
Watch the Huffington Post Live video, approximately 30 minutes long.
Of course, taking time for mindfulness might seem counterproductive: could that time not be spent, uh, working? Are employees not working hard enough if their hands and minds aren’t occupied by work-related tasks?
“I was a type-A worker Bee, no doubt about it,” admits Marturano, “And the message that I want people to understand is: this isn’t about doing less work, it’s not about changing your world around you. It’s about how you meet the world around you.”
She says mindfulness allows for an important attitude change:
Research conducted by the Institute for Mindful Leadership demonstrates that almost two-thirds of employees go through the day on autopilot, not really paying attention to what they’re doing.
An investment in mindfulness could change this scenario.
“With a very small investment in starting to train our minds to be more present, imagine the productivity if we’re actually here for the decisions that we have to make and here for our colleagues,” says Marturano.