I recently completed a six week Introduction to Meditation program with the Melbourne office of leading Australian law firm, Minter Ellison.

The Minter Ellison ResilientME program is described as

“a co-ordinated and integrated initiative to foster employee wellbeing and reduce the risk of stress and depression in the workplace. The ResilientME program aims to create staff and partner awareness and eliminate the stigma associated with depression/stress. The program looks at prevention strategies to ensure staff and partners lead healthy lives and provide the skills to recognise depression/stress so that staff are able to assist colleagues, family and friends suffering from this condition”.

The Minter Ellison team enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to swap their desks for an hour of stillness each week; reflecting the growing number of professionals seeking practical tools to self manage stress and develop greater mental and physical health.

Harvard Business School recently declared that

“meditation and intuition are the two most valuable executive tools for the 21st century”.

You don’t need to be a lawyer or corporate professional to feel the negative effects of high levels of work stress, and the overwhelming cost it takes on our life.

A recent national poll commissioned by Lifeline Australia found that 91% of adult Australians feel stress in at least one important area of their lives, and more alarmingly, 41% of Australians indicated they were experiencing unhealthy levels of stress. The usual list of culprits appeared: Work was cited by 72% of respondents as a primary cause of stress, Finances 67%, Thoughts about the Future 67%, Health 55% and Personal Relationships 41%.

So .. how wonderful to share my passion for meditation back in the corporate sector where I spent most of my career. And many Australian organisations (large and small) are now stepping up and implementing employee wellness programs; from gym memberships and lunchtime exercise sessions, to onsite health checks and massage services. Corporate leaders and HR specialists are realising that there is a duty of care owed to employees that extends beyond just a physically safe work environment.

A 2009 study by Dr Ramesh Manocha at Sydney University found occupational stress decreased by 26 per cent after eight weeks of meditation.

Benefits of Meditation for Business

• Reduction in Stress – Stress costs companies millions every year in lost productivity, sick leave and inefficiency. Studies show that meditating professionals achieve more with less effort and experience significant improvements in physical and mental health.

• Improved immune system, overall physical and mental health – which leads to decreased sick days, absenteeism and dis-engagement.

• Increased productivity, energy and concentration levels – developing a stronger and more focused mind builds the potential for greater clarity, decision making and problem resolution.

• Enhanced creative thought and intuition – the potential competitive edge for any organisation in today’s global marketplace.

• Retention of high performing employees and generally higher worker satisfaction and engagement and greater office and team harmony.

On-site meditation programs provide an opportunity for employees to learn some practical, simple and time honoured meditation practices that are vital for coping with our modern day, high velocity lives. It is a constant delight to witness the sigh of relief when employees are able to ‘put down their load’, take a breath and recharge. Meditation is a life skill, and everyone can learn to meditate .. even in the office!

What have we heard from participants:

“Reminds me of the need to take time for myself / benefits of taking time out for other areas of life including work”

“It helps to learn techniques which can help you switch off, re-energise, and to just breathe. This assists in managing stress, and coping with a heavy workload.”

“Gave me time out and enabled me to learn different styles of meditation. An educational and enjoyable experience – learning strategies to maintain calmness and wellbeing”.