The Top 5 Workplace Meditations


The pressure to develop a meditation practice to alleviate stress might be stressing you out even more. I feel your pain. If you haven’t heard that meditation is something you need to start doing then LISTEN TO ME HARD: NOT MEDITATING IS THE BIGGEST MISSED FREE* OPPORTUNITY YOU WILL WISH YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF. What I’m saying is this: don’t ignore me like you ignore your rich uncle at funerals when he corners you to impart the urgency of compound interest We all have busy, packed, hectic lives. Meditation is meant to ease the pressure, not add to it. If 30 minutes immediately upon waking just isn’t going to happen for you, if spending that 30 minutes crafting the perfect drip organic coffee with grass fed butter just takes precedence, (and it very well should then we have to get a little more creative. New Yorkers are nothing if we are not creative. What if I told you that you could meditate and get paid for it? Wel, you can meditate and get paid for it, as long as you do it while you are at work. One to Three times a day between 9 and 5, instead of checking Facebook you could meditate, change your life and actually increase your productivity at work to boot. No proverbial skin off the proverbial back of your literal employer.

1.     Level 1 - Beginner - Sitting In Your Cube Meditation – Worried that your supervisor will think you are sleeping or slacking if you meditate at your workstation? Scared to walk away from your desk for more than 2 minutes? You’ll be happy to learn that not all types of meditation require the eyes to be fully closed. In some forms of practice like Zazen meditation it is common practice to sit with the eyes about halfway closed. Try doing this for 5 minutes at a time. Sit in your crappy office chair with a straight back and your feet flat on the floor. Focus your eyes on a fixed spot in front of you. The pop tart crumb hanging and about to fall into oblivion between the T and Y Keys on your keyboard is likely the best spot. and place your attention on your breath. Notice when sounds, or a sense of discomfort, or activity in the periphery, hook your attention and seem to reel the mind off into a story or to do list. When this happens, and it invariably will, gently guide your focus back to your breath. Try doing this for 5 minutes at 3 pre-set times during your workday. Use a timer app on your phone like to keep track so you don’t have to watch the clock. Recurring reminders in my calendar help me to remember to take my time outs.

2.     Level 2 – Intermediate - Trash Room next to the Service Elevator Meditation – I initially found this room whilst searching for a place to take a private phone call. (read: place to cry). Open office plans leave no consideration for the person who has just been handed an emergency pile of bullshit, at 4:30 on a Friday, to have a meltdown in private or for the person that needs to have a delicate conversation with her gynecologist, personal trainer or financial planner. I digress. I found this rarely trafficked area on my office floor to be an oasis in the spiritual desert of corporate America. Think “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” with Styrofoam peanuts instead of Turkish delight. Turns out the only folks that I ever saw when I was using the space to meditate (sitting on an overturned recycle bin) were the Muslim elevator operator who related that he was no stranger to regular spiritual practice and my mailroom guy who happens to be fully immersed in Japanese Martial Arts. It’s amazing the deeper connections you can make with people when you are in the process of taking care of yourself. It’s magical.  This can be a 15-minute sitting meditation (as stated, a recycling bin turned upside down works perfectly). Set your timer app for 15 minutes, straighten your back, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Try a 10 - 15 minute guided meditation or insight talk from great apps like Headspace, Dharma Seed, Insight Timer or podcasts like Radio Headspace, Tara Brach, Dharmapunx NYC and Brooklyn or Zencare. (Note: this meditation can be alternately be done in the ladies room, the archive room, the supply closet and, with a little bribery to the IT department in the form of home baked cookies, the server room.

3.     Level 3 – Advanced - On the floor under your desk Meditation – Try it before you buy it. Aside from when one is bedridden due to illness or imminent death, this is the only case in which I highly recommend lying down meditation. Whether right by your desk in the cube or over by the window to get Eckhart Tolle’s prescribed daily dose of “sitting in a beam of light”, no one will bother you if you just lie right the flip down on the floor. You see, so many of us have flipped up backs from sitting in crappy office chairs that everyone will assume you just need to care for your erector spinae muscles. This will not only help you with your privacy, but increase the level of empathy between office workers in your department. They will all begin to discuss with each other how flipped up their backs are and forget all about you under their feet. Lie down, 10-15 minutes using your favorite meditation (by now you better have one) then resume your workday. After doing this 3 or 4 times you will see two or three others starting to do it and after a month you will have probably started a revolutionary trend in the office. You may even get one of these:


4.     Level 4 – Bodhisattva - The uppermost stairwell Meditation – Not unlike a Native American Sweat Lodge, the top of the stairwell on the 56th floor of the skyscraper you work in is likely to be no cooler than 170 degrees in the summer. Just ride the elevator to the top floor, (oh god no, I would never suggest you climb there from your office on 14) find the door to the stairs and walk up as high as you can go. Bring a bottle of water, some pop tarts and your cell phone so that you have rations and so that someone can find you should you pass out from the heat and/or get locked up there by accident. This could provide for a truly hallucinogenic lunch break. I’ve never done this myself but dreamed about doing it for years. Maybe you shouldn’t think about doing this unless on a special retreat with a sweat lodge and supervision. Note: daydreaming is NOT meditation but you are a Bodhisattva ( so you know that.

5.     Level 5 – Buddha - Standing at the vending machine Meditation – Standing meditation is a great way to expand your meditation skills. You probably have a lot of practice standing at the vending machine, staring at the empty coil where the pop tarts should be, come to think of it. You know, if it’s not Tuesday, there will be no pop tarts so these are good days to practice standing at the machine with a restful gaze forward and down at the space where your craving lies. This is a wonderful way to explore the sensations that arise in the body when grief is present. But remember, like all things, pop tarts arise and pass, definite only in their impermanence.