Over 10,000 Google employees have gone through meditation classes to teach them how to manage their emotions and stressful situations, and better understand the needs of their co-workers. With Google leading the pack, the IT world is discovering the benefits of Eastern philosophy and energy work such as meditation and yoga.
“Meditation and yoga have helped me improve my health, lower my stress, and more clearly envision, plan for, and live my version of prosperity. I’m happier, healthier, and more successful than ever before. In the workplace, these same tools help me collaborate, negotiate, and lead more effectively by helping me truly hear and understand not only what colleagues and clients are saying, but what they want.” —Theresa ONeil, Founder and President, Artha Communications
According to a recent story in the The Huffington Post, “A growing body of research suggests that yoga and meditation may reduce the stress that tends to assail bodies confined to desks for hours at a time. Companies are investing in the notion that limiting stress will translate into fewer employee absences, lower health care costs and higher morale, encouraging workers to stick around.”
Mark Bertolini, chief executive officer of Aetna, the medical insurance giant, frequently tells the story of the broken neck he suffered in a skiing accident nearly a decade ago. The resulting pain was excruciating. So excruciating that it set him on a desperate search for any therapy that might provide relief. This is how he stumbled into yoga and meditation. This is how he eventually came to have his company make meditation and yoga classes available to employees.
“Some people think I’m weird,” Bertolini says. “They say I’m only doing it because of my own experiences. And I say, ‘I may be weird, but I’m also in charge of the company.’”
But to those who may claim the boss is being frivolous, Bertolini emphasizes that the program was provoked by concern for the sorts of corporate interest that get captured in a spreadsheet: Aetna determined that workers in its most stress-prone positions were racking up medical bills that exceeded those of other employees by an average of $2,000 a year. Last year, Aetna reduced its health care costs by 7 percent —a savings the CEO pegs in part to limiting stress through meditation and yoga.
Meditation and yoga provide tools for practitioners to observe themselves, others, and situations—including business situations—more clearly, without the “stories” we make up. This clarity helps us understand our current position and future opportunities more truthfully. It also helps us understand the behaviors of others and how best to work with them to achieve our goals.
With this as our foundation, we seek to help businesses and the people who run them live healthier lives and be more effective at work through clear vision and communications.