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Hi! Managers: Meditation makes big difference

"In a mid-size manufacturing company, the productivity and profitability rose steadily as the number of employees practising a particular form of meditation over the same period rose to 80 per cent of the workforce. During this period, productivity increased by 52 per cent, annual sales grew by 88 per cent and absenteeism declined by 89 per cent." - The Academy of Management Journal

This is very interesting, but one has to wonder: How can something as simple as meditation be so beneficial to business performance?

Meditation is the skill of paying attention in a restful way to the flow of life in mind and body.  It produces a deep state of relaxation and awareness, and serves as a gateway to a profound healing state.

Meditation can be considered a natural response, or a built-in instinct, because mind and body willingly know how to do it. 

It is, however, a mental discipline, which goes beyond a reflexive action. 

" a growing number of corporations, including Deutsche Bank, Google and Hughes Aircraft, offer meditation classes to their workers. Making employees sharper is only one benefit. Studies say meditation also improves productivity, in large part by preventing stress-related illness and reducing absenteeism."

- Time magazine

When I'm having a rough day with a busy schedule and a variety of tasks waiting for decisions, I need a short break. Unfortunately, I cannot leave the office. To relieve my stress, I put my burdens behind me and take deep breaths - in and out - at least five times.  Then, I continue breathing normally and complete my tasks.

It is obvious to me that practising meditation clears the mind. I can relax and let thoughts come and go. The "interference" I feel beforehand subsides. I can keep my focus longer, while the physical strain and mental fatigue that come from sitting at a desk and obsessing over problems for hours are reduced.

I also have other methods of practising meditation. They do not require visiting a temple, because meditation, by my definition, is applied to stay focused on all the activities I do each day. For example, when I listen to New Age songs, I focus on listening. When I paint pictures, I focus on painting. And when I tend to my flowers, I focus on gardening. 

I highly recommend pausing throughout your day to feel your mind and body. When you are stressed at work  - when you feel your shoulders or back stiffening after a tense meeting or workshop - you need to take time to make yourself physically and mentally comfortable.

There is nothing mysterious about meditation. You will see visible, life-transforming changes to your business performance if you start meditating every day, for 20 minutes in the morning before breakfast and 20 minutes in the evening before dinner.

Chantana Sukumanont is executive vice president of Siam City Cement. Her column is published every second Monday of the month.

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