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Businesses

Meditation in the Workplace? 441

prostoalex writes "Nortel, Texas Instruments, Raytheon, Google, Apple and many others are apparently finding meditation and yoga to be a very efficient way to motivate and energize the employees. BusinessWeek finds that the reasons companies are suddenly hiring the yoga experts and conducting regular classes are easily justified to the management: "increased brain-wave activity, enhanced intuition, better concentration, and the alleviation of the kinds of aches and pains that plague employees most"."
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Meditation in the Workplace?

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  • Anything is great to get away from the caos of work for an hour.
  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:34AM (#6520114) Journal
    This is ridiculous. Employers would find that their employess were productive and content by treating them with respect and dignity, managing them properly, having proper time-scales, fair working hours, etc. Enforced yoga, meditation and feng-shui is childish, silly and new-age clap-trap put about my a bunch of charlatans looking to make a quick buck out of the naieve, impressionable and those with more money than sense.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe you should try to considder there might be more in this world then you ever imagined! I will agree with you that enforced yoga etc. might be the wrong way, ok. But hiring a yoga expert might really help to increase productivity. I know of other situations where there is an enforced relaxtime, and it really helped. Having half an hour of relaxing time will increase productivity and concentration not to mention that a change of your activity will decrease the occurance of various illnesses.
    • Damn straight. Employees will only work to their full potential if they actually benefit from their own labours. Amasingly cheap arse salaries are not enough. These are the people who make the money, dont they deserve to have a piece of the profit? Sure they might get stock options or something, but that wont make up for the huge differance between the average workers salary and what upper admin gets. The loss of family time especially is a huge factor in productivity in this age of ever increasing overtim
    • by Surak ( 18578 ) * <[surak] [at] [mailblocks.com]> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:46AM (#6520190) Homepage Journal
      This is ridiculous. Employers would find that their employess were productive and content by treating them with respect and dignity, managing them properly, having proper time-scales, fair working hours, etc. Enforced yoga, meditation and feng-shui is childish, silly and new-age clap-trap put about my a bunch of charlatans looking to make a quick buck out of the naieve, impressionable and those with more money than sense.

      As someone who meditates on a daily basis, I wholeheartedly disagree. Meditation is *very* useful for clearing the mind and relieving stress. It's a useful tool for collecting your thoughts, visualizing the achievement of goals, and quieting the useless chatter in your mind that keeps you from being productive. It's a technique that's been using tens of thousands of years, and it's very, very effective. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!
      • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        As someone who meditated on a daily basis too, I wholeheartedly agree with the first poster. While meditation is useful to relieve stress and calm your mind, it pales in comparison to just being treated well. You can calm yourself as much as you want, but if somebody else keeps punching you in the face, life still sucks.
      • As someone who used to think it was all a load of trash until I 'had' to be a case study for my g/f during her training, I can confirm that lots and lots of good stuff comes out of Massage, Indian Head Massage, all that sort of thing.

        I usually find that I am much more productive afterward, but also much more relaxed. Double plus good!

        J.

      • Meditation is *very* useful for clearing the mind and relieving stress. It's a useful tool for collecting your thoughts, visualizing the achievement of goals, and quieting the useless chatter in your mind that keeps you from being productive. It's a technique that's been using tens of thousands of years, and it's very, very effective.

        All of that also applies to sex. Think they'll be endorsing that in the workplace? I sure hope so.
      • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:14AM (#6520383)
        Hey, that's absolutely wonderful for YOU. For it to be forced upon me as another way to bring up morale and productivity in the workplace?

        Swimming, hiking, camping, and listening to music are my ways to relieve stress and bring up my productivity.

        I hate sitting in one place basically doing nothing for more than 5 mins.

        I wish management would learn that people are individuals and need to be treated as such. Blanket policy always pisses someone off.

        Remember that.
      • by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:15AM (#6520387) Journal
        As someone who meditates on a daily basis, I wholeheartedly disagree. Meditation is *very* useful for clearing the mind and relieving stress. It's a useful tool for collecting your thoughts, visualizing the achievement of goals, and quieting the useless chatter in your mind that keeps you from being productive. It's a technique that's been using tens of thousands of years, and it's very, very effective. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

        That might be because it's (or at least it seems like) your own decision to meditate. There's a HUGE difference in attitude when you go meditate on your own initiative then when you're forced to meditate during work for 15 minutes, in a hurry, without being paid. I'm no expert on these things but I'd think it's very plausible that being forced to do meditation against your will and with a bad attitude towards it effectively renders it useless indeed...

        That said, I think most people would rather have easier work times, more realistic goals set by management and be treated as humans instead of expendable statistics.

        • That might be because it's (or at least it seems like) your own decision to meditate. There's a HUGE difference in attitude when you go meditate on your own initiative then when you're forced to meditate during work for 15 minutes, in a hurry, without being paid. I'm no expert on these things but I'd think it's very plausible that being forced to do meditation against your will and with a bad attitude towards it effectively renders it useless indeed...

          You're no expert? No kidding! Read the frickin' art

      • Meditation is *very* useful for clearing the mind and relieving stress. It's a useful tool for collecting your thoughts, visualizing the achievement of goals, and quieting the useless chatter in your mind that keeps you from being productive.

        Substitute "Mediation" with "six pack" and you have what the rest of us do. The effects are amazingly similar plus it has the added bonus of the beer goggle effect.
      • by alexkj ( 657438 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:43AM (#6520694) Homepage
        heh-heh, "enforced meditation". I kinda like the concept. Come on. Meditate! Now! Be calm. NO, CALM!
    • Read any of Jon Kabat-Zinn's books; Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness and Wherever You Go, There You Are.

    • by sam_handelman ( 519767 ) <.ude.aibmuloc. .ta. .3002hks.> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:51AM (#6520226) Homepage Journal
      Giving people the opportunity to remain physically active during the day (which Yoga does) should be part of treating your employees with dignity, especially people who sit at desks all day.

      Obviously, anyone who mentions "increased brain waves" is a crank. On the other hand, this doesn't mean that doing Yoga is not good for you, or even that these are poor Yoga instructors they're hiring - some of the best physical therapists, chiropractors and martial arts instructors combine great skills with a variety of cranky beliefs. As long as he gets your employees motivated to stand up and wave their arms around, they will be healthier and happier - even if the particular motions emphasised in Yoga are complete and utter bunk (which I do not believe, but I can conceede the point for sake of argument.)

      Also, a persons perception of being healthful or content is entirely driven by psychology. If you have flakes on your staff, you can probably help them feel better by having a certified crackpot with a mellow voice tell them that doing Yoga removes static from their brainwaves. I don't see the harm.
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:55AM (#6520255)
      Yoga and meditation are not inherently New Age and certainly aren't clap-trap. That doesn't mean that New Agers don't mess up the field something fierce. I was once considering selling T-Shirts that said, "Blow the New Age out your ass."

      That being said you are absolutely correct. Giving people the opportunity to take a relax and stretch without harassing them about their "productivity" would certainly be one thing they could do to treat employees with respect.

      This isn't what typically happens though. It gets applied just like any other buzz word compliant band-aid program that makes them feel like they're respecting their employees while actually treating them with disdain and just as much like mere productivity machines as they ever did.

      Thus meditation becomes demeaning for many.

      On the whole they could do more good by letting people listen to music of their choice while they work and not having a coniption fit if they walk to the watercooler a time or two.

      Meditation cannot be applied as a paliative for keyboard logging.

      KFG
      • > Yoga and meditation are not inherently New Age and certainly aren't clap-trap. That doesn't mean that New Agers don't mess up the field something fierce.

        *applause*. A lot of the "don't knock it till you've tried it" posters sure sound like evangelists to me.

        > This isn't what typically happens though. It gets applied just like any other buzz word compliant band-aid program that makes them feel like they're respecting their employees while actually treating them with disdain and just as much like

    • by ravenousbugblatter ( 682061 ) <ravenousbugblatter@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:55AM (#6520256)
      You're probably right to a large degree, but the work place isn't the only place where meditation or even just sitting quietly for fifteen minutes has yielded improvements -- I saw a piece on an urban school in chicago or something that was a complete disaster. The school had rowdy kids, poor attendance, and poor grades, and horrible test scores. A new principal there instituted a mandatory meditation period of fifteen minutes for all students. Within months attendance had increased, grades and test scores had increased, and attitude was significantly improved. Yoga in the workplace sounds like a stretch to me, but I see nothing wrong with a few minutes of peaceful meditation each day.
    • This is ridiculous. Employers would find that their employess were productive and content by treating them with respect and dignity, managing them properly, having proper time-scales, fair working hours, etc. Enforced yoga, meditation and feng-shui is childish, silly and new-age clap-trap put about my a bunch of charlatans looking to make a quick buck out of the naieve, impressionable and those with more money than sense.

      You seem to be wanting respect and meaning from work. I agree that these are fundame
    • by SunPin ( 596554 ) <slashspam@cyberis t a . com> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:57AM (#6520267) Homepage
      Meditation is valuable but there are a lot of different kinds of meditation. For example, breathing meditation can be done 24 hours a day. Our breath rate has a huge impact on what emotions control us in a given moment. Control the breath and you have another avenue for seeking mental equilibrium.

      Then there's the "kindness" meditation which can be done at all hours while you're awake. Basically, you decide that you wish everyone well no matter what they think of you and you don't let situations beyond your control get the best of you.

      I don't find value in yoga or sitting in one place humming crazy chants. Neither do most educated Buddhists. The charlatans like yoga and incense and other nonsense because it sells. The naive like yoga and incense and other nonsense because these people haven't detached themselves from the myth that you can *buy* happiness.

      Corporate adoption of meditation practices seems like yet another idiotic idea from marketing. I'm sure most employees are perfectly capable of taking care of their spiritual needs without the Corporate Big Brother getting involved.

      If corporations really want to help, they can focus on providing money in exchange for hours worked instead of always trying to ace full-timers out of their labor.


    • Companies should be concerned about their employees health without being concerned about their increased productivity as a result. I wouldn't mind this article if the message was "yoga reduces stresss" but in stead the message is "lets work these people an extra hours, but send them yoga so they'll be artificially more productive." Most execs (especially those of large corporations) need to learn how to treat employees like something other than cattle.

      Also, Doing anything relaxing for an hour(in the middle
    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:03AM (#6520299) Journal
      While I agree on your comment about Feng-shui and enforced yoga being bad, I don't think Yoga is silly at all.

      In many ways, employees may benefit from relaxation and some 'quiet time' away from their normal hectic workplace. Yoga training will help make the most of these relaxinig breaks. Having Yoga training is also a good selling point to upper management (despite the added cost), and will make the introduction of quiet rooms and time away from desks easier. Which pitch will convince the PHB sooner?

      "We'll train our resources to maximise their benefit from regular meditative breaks, which will increase their productivity."

      or

      "We'll allow our people to sit around doing nothing for an hour or so each day, because we, erm, think they'll work better because of it."

      Remember, anything even remotely fun or enjoyable should be packaged as 'training', or as an organised activity with clear benefits, or the bosses will not approve of it. Notice how you never just "go out to shoot your co-workers with paintball guns", but instead are sent on a "team-building event". Even if the teambuilding consists of shooting co-workers with a paintball gun.
    • Is that an informed opinion? I mean, you've obviously done Yoga or some sort of meditation before, right?
    • "yoga, meditation and feng-shui is childish, silly and new-age clap-trap put about my a bunch of charlatans looking to make a quick buck out of the naieve, impressionable and those with more money than sense."

      Moderated as insightful, yet flamebait seems more justified.
      Turgid, maybe you should relieve your ignorance on the subject by reading a good book [saigon.com].

    • Enforced yoga, meditation and feng-shui is childish

      None of these companies is enforcing. We have a choice to join if we want to. Many people do so just before going to their cubicles, if nothing else it takes of the hangover of road rage.

      Yes respect is needed and so is dignity, but it seems you are not at all aware of how all this can help you. Frankly speaking try it. If not "new age clap-trap" just be alone at a quite place and closing your eyes and trying to think of nothing. You will feel much relaxe

    • Yoga, meditiation and feng-shui were around for hundreds of years before the current new-age crystal-dolphin-huggers hijacked them.

      I used to work for a company that had (optional) yoga sessions once a week at lunchtime. I loved them, they were the highlight of my working week. The only problem was that I was so relaxed at the end of a session that I'd fall asleep. That doesn't help productivity too much!

      Also, some of you geeks really ought to try yoga, as yoga classes are usually full of attractive wom
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:59AM (#6520886) Homepage Journal
      Most people seem to be unaware of the constant stream of internal dialog that accompanies us through the day. It affects how we process all the information we receive, and therefore how we act.

      This internal dialog can become fixated on a single idea. When it becomes a more important determinant of our behavior than the informtaion we receive from our senses. Everybody's had the experience of working with a coworker who keeps coming back to the same issues over and over again. We tend to put it down to perversity -- that they are just use every event as an excuse to harp on their pet issue. But it's not really voluntary - it can become a pernicious habit like drug addiction.

      It's an interesting comparison, because meditation is closely related to hypnotism, and many people have found hypnotism useful in breaking destructive habits. "Free your mind" has become a familiar catch phrase from The Matrix, but what the mind needs to be freed from is not an outside force, but its own overly ingrained habits of thought. In a sense, we all can become "addicted" to certain ways of thinking about things, to the extent that we become blinded to situations that would be obvious to somebody looking at them with fresh eyes.

      Yoga is not just about physical flexibility -- it's about mental flexibility as well.

      Of course, the benefits depends on what your job is. If your job involves processing information and making judgements, meditation could conceivably allow you to be a little more creative. I have a feeling that most people in these kinds of positions have at best a few hours a week in which most of their creativity is done. Much of the time spent during the week is duff. For some people, giving even an hour a day to meditation could conceivably be worthwhile if they could extend the number of highly creative hours from say two to two and a half over the course of a week.
  • Medication (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Cowturd ( 231830 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:34AM (#6520115)
    I misread 'Meditation' as 'Medication', which might be relaxing in the workplace.
  • by barryfandango ( 627554 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:35AM (#6520122)
    You may as well just create a 1-2pm "Execute Powernap."
  • Lay off the coffee (Score:5, Informative)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <`ku.oc.nez' `ta' `senoj.selig'> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:35AM (#6520123)
    If you want to relax then stop drinking caffeine and sugary drinks. You'll sleep better at night and thus will feel better at work, no need to take caffeine to wake you up due to lack of sleep the night before.

    Of course such suggestions will no go down with programmers :)
    • Caffeine doesn't present a problem for everyone. Case in point, I was out at the all-night Dunkin Donuts with a couple of friends around midnight last night, and since I got there early, got an extra large coffee. Finished it before I got home, and went right to sleep. I've always been able to do that. If I want to stay awake, caffiene will help me do that, but if I want to sleep, it doesn't stop me.

      Of course, a friend of mine suffers from chronic insomnia (he'll go for 2-3 days just unable to get more
    • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:57AM (#6520269)
      I agree. Caffeine has never kept me awake, but when I come off the high from it I get really tired. Now that I have quit caffeine I actually have more energy consistenly through the day instead of the highs and lows that came with drinking caffeine.
    • by nil_null ( 412200 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:23AM (#6520435) Homepage
      If you want to relax then stop drinking caffeine and sugary drinks. You'll sleep better at night and thus will feel better at work, no need to take caffeine to wake you up due to lack of sleep the night before.

      Very true. I used to drink coffee and soda, now I have completely quit. I have plenty of energy, I am active all day long, and I have no problems getting 7-9 hours of sleep at night. I don't find myself nodding off in the middle of the day anymore, either.

      As for meditation, I have tried it on and off, and find the results to be very subtle. I'm trying to get back into it again, meditating in the morning before going to work, and in the evening at some point. A book I recommend is "Journey of Awakening" by Ram Dass. The way he presents his ideas makes it very accessible to most of us. Even if you don't end up doing any meditation, the first chapter of the book gives great insight into life in general.
    • I used to get headaches in the morning from lack of caffeine and I decided that enough was enough. I didn't want to be addicted anymore.

      So I stopped drinking regular caffeine about 5 years ago... had about a days worth of withdrawl, and haven't looked back. Every once in a while I drink Coke or Pepsi or some other caffeinated beverage and you know what... it tastes a whole lot better when you don't have it all the time.

  • a need for peace (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mandalayx ( 674042 ) * on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:36AM (#6520128) Journal
    I find this article interesting. Perhaps some workers are wanting peace and harmony and are having trouble getting those needs met in a work environment that I see as increasingly fast-paced, stressful, and unstable. Personally I've been able to meet my needs for peace and even energy through yoga (after being dragged by my girlfriend there).

    Observations....

    William H. Gross, of Newport Beach (Calif.)'s Pacific Investment Management Co., who often meditates with yoga before a day of trading at his $349 billion money-management firm.
    Has anyone ever listened to Bill Gross's bond recommendations? They always seem to do much worse than his actual holdings...

    So employees can breathe easy: This is one perk that isn't likely to get axed.
    I've heard this one before...
    *****
    I did Bikram Yoga at Funky Door in Berkeley. Any recommendations?
    • <Off Topic>

      William H. Gross, of Newport Beach (Calif.)'s Pacific Investment Management Co., who often meditates with yoga before a day of trading at his $349 billion money-management firm.

      Has anyone ever listened to Bill Gross's bond recommendations? They always seem to do much worse than his actual holdings...

      In investment banking, the primary job of traders is not to make recommendations, but to make prices. And AFAIK traders can't hold personal positions in the markets they handle.

      People
  • Buddhism (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cally ( 10873 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:37AM (#6520129) Homepage
    Buddhism rocks - but silently ;)


    Seriously, I recommend it. It's _the_ geek religion* [google.com] as far as I'm concerned; no contradictions with physics or cosmology, no ridiculous mumbo-jumbo from some 3000 year old oral histories of nomadic shepherds, no all powerful elephant-god floating in the sky somewhere... and Zen will teach you more about programming and network administration than any number of certifications and courses.

    *well, apart from Discordianism, or the Church of the SubGenius... which both have a lot of zen in them anyway - the jokes, mainly :)

    • Re:Buddhism (Score:3, Funny)

      by zonix ( 592337 )
      no all powerful elephant-god floating in the sky somewhere...

      No, but then there's the gnu [gnu.org]. :-)

      z
    • As someone who found meditation and yoga via Buddhism a few years ago, I'm usually quite wary of these "Zen and the art of $business" ideas and other similar fads. While I think it's good to introduce these practices to people in general, I think there can be fundamental clashes with the business world. Buddhism is very much about open-minded thinking and compassion, neither of which are really compatible with the capitalist system.
      • Re:Buddhism (Score:4, Insightful)

        by keyslammer ( 240231 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @11:58AM (#6522434) Homepage Journal
        Buddhism is very much about open-minded thinking and compassion, neither of which are really compatible with the capitalist system.

        You raise an interesting point. The essence of capitalism is competition, it need not be cut-throat competition, although that's often the approach that people take.

        Can you imagine what the corporate world would be like if everyone was compassionate and open-minded? How about if corporate officers adopted the "do not create evil" precept? Most people would probably say that a corporation that embraced these ideals would be at a severe disadvantage in the market.

        There are certain advantages to "playing dirty". But there are also certain advantages to compassion and open-mindedness. I think that a company that plays by the latter principles would gain extraordinary trust among its consumers and employees, and would probably produce more innovation with less waste.

        I try to bring Buddhist ideals into every part of my life, including my business relationships. For the most part, I believe that this has helped my career rather than hindered it.
    • I think it's not much a religion, but more a philosophy. At least for me, a "geek religion" is an oxymoron: if a geek is a cold-minded individual that wants everything to make sense, he/she would have no religion at all.

      But maybe I'm being too much INTJ [personalitypage.com] on this ;-) Everyone should believe what he/she wants and finds meaningful, if that doesn't mean any harm to anyone.

      • Re:Buddhism (Score:3, Interesting)

        But maybe I'm being too much INTJ on this ;-)

        Since we're all talking about bullshit, I feel I have to mention that those personality types are bullshit as well. See here. [skepdic.com]

        That said, geeks aren't always cold-minded individuals that want everything to make sense. Love is essentially a chemical reaction; a lie. But I have no problem living that lie and I don't waste my time questioning it. Sure it's not what it seems, but it's a nice experience, so that works for me.

        In any case, i've met a lot of geeks tha
        • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @11:15AM (#6521906)
          In any case, i've met a lot of geeks that will believe any old bullshit (atkins has really taken hold in the geek community for some reason, for example)

          OK, now it is my turn to call bullshit.

          As much as I have always despised 'diets de jour', Atkins was preaching his take on this for 30 odd years, much to his own personal and professional derision. However, in recent years scientific studies have finally been conducted to validate or refute his findings, and in every case have validated his approach.

          Now there is plenty of innuendo suggesting 'long term health effects' that are bad, but no solid studies have been performed, and the claim that the atkins diet does in fact lead to dramatic weight loss has been demonstrated and is no longer disputed even by its detractors.

          OTOH we do have emperical evidence of the ill health effects of the low fat, high carb diets that dieticians have been foisting upon us over the last two decades: America has never been as obese, or as unhealthy, as it is today. Specific causes are uncertain (correlation does not prove causation, it really can only suggest it, and even then not always), but it is clear that as the American diet has embraced and increased its consumption of low-fat, high-carb products the populace has grown vastly more obese and unhealthy.

          So we have only three ways of losing weight in a reaonably healthy manner: burn more calories, consume less calories, or go into ketosis by dropping your carb intake dramatically. 'Low Fat' doesn't do shit for anyone except peddlers of 'low fat' foods and diets ... who are arguably quacks of the highest order.

          In any event, calling atkins "any old bullshit" flies in the face of numerous studies and, most importantly, the very real and reproducable effect it has on people's weight.

          I actually did the Atkins thing, not out of any personal interest (as I said, I've always despised 'diets de jour'), but to be supportive of my girlfriend who was doing it.

          I did not expect it to work and had zero faith in the approach.

          After losing 45 pounds and having my waiste size shring by 6 inches I had to eat a little crow and admit that, emperically, the damn thing worked, and worked dramatically. Having my blood pressure go from marginally high to marginally low, and my cholesterol go from Very High to Medium-Low in four short months made me a believer...whatever 'long term health effects' there might be (and who knows, even pseudo-scientific innuendo can be right on occasion), the immediate health effects were dramatic and extremely positive.

          However, unlike religion, I buy into the Atkins approach (though I'm no longer on the diet) because of verifiable, reproducable results.

          As I said, it is possible there may be health issues with eating low-carb diets over the long term, but that certainly isn't proven, and no real long term studies have yet been done (though plenty of allegations have been made, by the same people who were pushing the low-fat, high carb disaster upon us the last several decades).

          Indeed, Given that we evolved for most of our 3 million years as primates eating exactly that kind of diet, it is quite possible, perhaps even likely, that there are no such health risks ... certainly the theories that there are have yet to be rigorously tested. High-carb foods didn't become common until after the advent of modern agriculture, some 8-10 thousand years ago, so it really isn't unreasonable to find that our metabolisms aren't terribly well adapted to processing it. 10,000 years is nothing compared to 3,000,000, so we propbably have a while yet before our bodies evolve into more effecient processors of high-carb diets than low-carb diets.

          In a way it is a pity Atkins has become popular (among geeks as well as anyone else), as I absolutely hate doing anything that smacks of 'trendy,' but the simple fact is that, unlike low-fat, high-carb diets that are supposed to make you healthy and don'
      • by SunPin ( 596554 ) <slashspam@cyberis t a . com> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:22AM (#6520431) Homepage
        You should have been dropped to "troll", not the parent post.

        How is Buddhism not a religion? What makes a religion? The suspension of rational thought?

        There's nothing scientific about the Buddhist moral code in the Middle Path and this moral code is far stricter than any religion I've seen. You pay the price of your deeds in karma. That price can be pretty f'n heavy if you aren't careful. You might not get punished immediately or even in this life but you will pay. Conversely, karma rewards good deeds. You can foster your entire existence into generating good karma (/. has nothing to do with this.)

        There is no eternity for your behavior. You will not suffer eternal damnation for evil nor will you enjoy eternal bliss for good. Everything can change.

        Further, while the overall concepts square with science, once you start exploring the 31 states of existence, you may need to leave science at the door or at least not get upset when you hear various descriptions of these different realities.

        You have to believe that the Middle Path is the right way of living and that creating excuses and rationalizations for why you deviated from it will hurt you more than just admitting that you like porn, gambling and other nonsense.

        Now, what were you saying about Buddhism not being a religion? Maybe it was just your ignorance and cynicism shining through.
        • Buddhism is not based in dogma. You should trust only your own _practice_ and experience. Buddhism is intrested of human mind. Cosmology and others are not so important. Many buddhist do belive in karma rebirth etc. like many people did in Buddhas time. Buddha himiself consistently refused to respond in many questions: is the world eternal, is the world infinite, is the soul same as body, does buddha (avakened person) exist after death, etc. If you are following buddhist path you are doing something not bel
    • by notany ( 528696 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:41AM (#6520659) Journal
      Great quotes:

      "Buddhism is a science, not a fanatic religion like football."
      -- Lama Khyentse Norbu

      "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion; the religion
      which is based on experience, which refuses dogmatism. If there's any
      religion that would cope with scientific needs it will be Buddhism.... "
      -- Albert Einstein, 1954, [from Albert Einstein: The Human Side,
      edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press]

    • The way the brain works, in geek terms, is that if some idea is bothering you it ties up excess CPU-cycles, or forces the drive-head to do extra seeks, or causes memory allocation to thrash.

      Meditation is just a way to set everything else aside until you've de-fragged those resources.

      I think the best explanation of this is Krishnamurti's [robotwisdom.com]-- Westerners tend to confuse images with realities, and stress themselves out trying to become what the images demand. Even the gnostic gospel of Thomas has Jesus sayin

      • A few afterthoughts:

        1) The de-fragging routine is built-in, so trying to speed it up or control its execution will just interfere. The trick is to relax. (I like to think the word 'religion' is related to 'relaxation', but your bible may vary.)

        2) Following the movement of your breath is a useful, neutral focus for your attention. A simple mantra for this is "hoom-saah".

        3) Self-deception (lying to yourself) tends to come to the surface during the process, so it encourages honesty.

    • Re:Buddhism (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eddy the lip ( 20794 )

      I'm too much of an agnostic to profess a religion, but if I was going to take one up, it would be Buddhism. I always loved this quote from Carl Sagan:

      For example, in theological discussions with religious leaders, I often ask what their response would be if a central tenet of their faith were disproved by science. When I put this question to the Dalai Lama, he unhesitatingly replied as no conservative or fundamentalist religious leaders do: In such a case, he said, Tibetan Buddhism would have to change. Ev

    • As I understand it, Buddhism is focused on disassociation from the physical realm, thereby freeing the mind and spirit to concentrate on the greater mysteries of the universe. Naturally this is very important for those of us who must keep such nebulous things as IP networks and sounds cards and such running without letting the magic blue smoke out.

      However, as a druid, my path is the path of wisdom through knowledge. We strive first to know everything about ourselves through studying the nature of the physi
    • Ah, like most Westerners, you seem to confuse meditation and yoga as originiating in Buddhism. Far from the truth. Buddhism is only about 2600 years old (Buddha was born as a Hindu prince in 623 B.C. in a town called Kapilavatsu on the modern Indo-Nepal border.)

      On the other hand, the practice of Yogic poses and meditation in India is * real ancient". More than 3000 yrs old. In fact, Yoga is mentioned in the RigVeda, the oldest known Hindu text. RigVeda is currently estimated by historians as at least 33
  • by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:37AM (#6520130)
    ..along with the web, email, trips to the coffee machine, phone calls, scratching my bollocks and leaving early this means i might never need to do anything in the office ever again!
  • by Advocadus Diaboli ( 323784 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:37AM (#6520131)
    ... that now my firm approves it when I sleep off at my desk? Well, its a sort of meditation too, isn't it?
  • As someone who practises yoga myself I'm totally in favour of this BUT... only if it isn't a passing fad, to be forgotten in a few months when the next trendy idea comes along.

    If your company doesn't offer it, you could try taking a few quiet minutes at lunchtime (sitting in your car in the car park if necessary) to do some breathing and calming exercises. It's relaxing and really does help you.
  • by WTFRUDOINBiotch ( 538107 ) <.keri_23062. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:39AM (#6520142)
    It's not the Yoga thats helping, it's the attention. People love to feel needed!
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) * on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:40AM (#6520149)
    increased brain-wave activity, enhanced intuition, better concentration, and the alleviation of the kinds of aches and pains that plague employees most

    Personally, I derive the same benefits from my Scotch-and-Cigar breaks, without the added mystic baggage. Fortunately, I work from home.

    But, hey, whatever floats your boat. If sitting in the Lotus Position and intoning chants from the Vedas is what we have to do to keep jobs from going to India, I'm all for it.

    ...appreciating the irony it, but all for it, nonetheless.

    • Lesson in meditation (Score:3, Informative)

      by aphor ( 99965 )

      This is from the zen perspective I have achieved.

      Personally, I derive the same benefits from my Scotch-and-Cigar breaks, without the added mystic baggage. Fortunately, I work from home.

      But, hey, whatever floats your boat. If sitting in the Lotus Position and intoning chants from the Vedas is what we have to do to keep jobs from going to India, I'm all for it.

      Mystic baggage: mystic means uncommunicable personal experience (the essential facts cannot be understood by representative symbols), and b

  • Far back in the mists of time, I used to work for a now-defunct company called the Multimedia Corporation.

    This place had a room you could go to when you needed a break. It had a comfy leather sofa and a few chairs, a satellite TV feed an an N64 (newish then) you could play on. Could go in whenever you liked - time wasn't really monitored as such in MMC, it was more "have you done what we needed you to do, within the time we needed it by?" than "how many hours have you put in today?".

    A good place to wor

  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:41AM (#6520158)
    News from the future -- 'ResistorCorp has Employees Chanting "Ohm" '
  • Other solution... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheDredd ( 529506 )
    is sports, or at least something to get your body moving. The human body is not designed to sit at a desk, and barely move all day. I'll bet if you do a little exercise every odd or so day, you'll feel a lot better
  • by palad1 ( 571416 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:42AM (#6520161)
    To: employees@company.com
    From: management@company.com
    Subject: Note Yoga team members

    Dear ${team_member},

    It has recently come to our attention that some corridors have a very strong smell of incense, patchouli and other unidentified substances.

    As much as we value the quality of your working environment, we would like to remind you that marijuana is not yet allowed within the united states.

    Sincerely,
    ${manager}

    ps: What's with all those Pink Floyds mp3 ?
    • I wish I could remember the company, but during the colorful months of the dotcom boom there was a memo posted on f*ckedcompany.com, presumably from one of the big chiefs of this unknown company, that said "The other day we had a very important client in the office for the tour. Upstairs near the back I detected a very noticeable smell. Luckily, the customer did not. Guys! It was 10am!" As if to say that the most important things were that the customer did not smell the marijuana, and that perhaps blaz
  • "increased brain-wave activity, enhanced intuition, better concentration, and the alleviation of the kinds of aches and pains that plague employees most"

    In this heat? Are you nuts?!

    (it's 27 degrees celsius in my office right now and it's not even 4 o'clock yet)

    z
  • Ah crap! (Score:3, Funny)

    by anonymous loser ( 58627 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:43AM (#6520169)
    As if I needed one more thing to worry about. Now I find out that my employer is monitoring my brainwave activiy?

    What the hell must they think when I fall asleep browsing porn sites?
  • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:44AM (#6520179) Journal
    We have a guy that comes and gives shiatsu to whoever feel like being massaged.

    But most of the time, instead of mediting, we prefer doing some sport (not on the screen, I mean perspiring, running around, etc.)

    It is also *forbidden* to speak about work-related issues during lunch.

    The guy that came 2 days ago about his weight problem is not alone and I guess there's nothing as relaxing as re-oxygenation ; SPORT.

  • If you had a job that matters to you this wouldnt be a problem
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:45AM (#6520187) Homepage Journal

    Here each week's lowest producer has to have the goatse.cx guy as his desktop wallpaper the following week.

  • Things I've found useful include

    Start-of-day calisthenics

    Singing the company song [zdnet.co.uk]

    Dressing up as your favorite animals [dilbert.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    North-Americans have adopted yoga by expurging key elements of its practice, like poverty and simple living, and therefore fits the agenda of corporations.

    On another matter, despite wide-spread acceptance of yoga in the higher classes of the society, it is still closely related to a eastern thought system, if not religion. Yoga is not neutral in terms of vision of the world and ethics. Could someone refuse yoga sessions offered by an employer for attempting to impose certain religious beliefs in the work
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:48AM (#6520207)
    Yes, Mr. PHB, if you hire me as your Yoga Expert, I will provide "increased brain-wave activity, enhanced intuition, better concentration, and the alleviation of the kinds of aches and pains that plague employees most". Trust me.

    Dogbert
  • Whoop dee doo... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:50AM (#6520217) Homepage Journal
    Either:
    1. This is a case of PHBs buying into the latest [yoga] fad, or:
    2. This is a case of PHBs trying to pressure employees into working even more than before ("See? we are a gentle, caring company! Now work for 8 more hours... you can, since you have had your yoga classes!"), or:
    3. all of the above.


    Frankly, that kind of thing makes me completely mad. What about paying people a decent salary?

    What about not over-working them (ie: decent work hours, not permanent overtime)? This way, perhaps your employees won't need frivolous yoga classes to be productive and motivated!

    What about managing companies responsibly, not in an Enronesque way?

    What about day-care benefits for employees with children? You know, like having in-house day-care center for toddlers, so that moms and dads can see their kids during lunch hour, and not grow apart from their offspring?

    Etc... etc... In short: decent and sensible policies? Noooo.... instead, you get these moronic "benefits".

    Nothing against yoga, mind you, which I am really interested in, by the way. It's just that replacing sound management policies by yoga classes just doesn't cut it for me.

    If I want yoga classes, I'll pay for them out of my own pocket, thank you very much...

    (Sorry for the rant, this is the kind of Dilbert-esque "benefits" that just push me over the edge...)
    • by Mike1024 ( 184871 )
      What about paying people a decent salary?

      While I agree that people should be fairly paid, a yoga class could work better than raises from the company's point of view.

      Lets say you have a company with 100 people. Lets say you give them a raise of $1,000 per year. That costs you $100,000 per year. I would expect hiring a yoga instructor or two for an hour a day would cost substantially less than $100,000.

      Also, a $1,000 raise may make people happy in the short term, but after a few months, productivity woul
  • by Hiawatha ( 13285 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:54AM (#6520246)
    I've nothing against this meditation idea, but I can't help wondering. Would a company support employee prayer breaks? Not that I advocate such a practice--I can pray anytime I want, without company authorization. I'm just curious, is all...
  • by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @08:56AM (#6520264) Homepage
    Did anyone catch this?
    "Sometimes meditation classes are offered as a gesture of thanks for a job well done. Consider AOL Time Warner Inc., where the sales and marketing group was reduced from 850 to 500 people three years ago. Meditation classes were incorporated to help employees deal with the new 12-hour days.
    You want to reduce stress in the workplace? Why not start by not giving your employees twelve hour work days?
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:00AM (#6520280)
    I read this one and at first thought it was about Yoda in the workplace.

    Begin, this reading comprehension failure has.
  • motivation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 )
    The benefit of this is, of course, to reduce stress and improve health. Properly applied in the right environment, these methods are effective at creating more stable people. These are laudable goals, both from humane and business perspectives. A healthy worker is more productive and misses less days. A calm worker is more productive and doesn't become disgruntled and shoot up the shop.

    OTOH, to see this used as motivation is really silly. For example, many companies use the fear of being terminated as

  • Might also explain why they export all the tech jobs to India nowadays.

    Nevertheless, I'm a real proponent of the concept; it's the ideal combination. I'm currently very stressed and see my body go downhill fast. And although I don't like Yoga, I'm automatically looking in the direction of the Oriental sports with the "body and spirit healing" combination. Too bad many of these sports have a "fighting" reputation; it's one thing that keeps me, weakling, from just joining the club. That, and my week schedule
  • by AssFace ( 118098 ) <stenz77@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:08AM (#6520347) Homepage Journal
    I'd rather have lapdances.
  • Having started doing yoga, breathing exercises and meditation about 2 1/2 years ago, I can't really recommend this enough. However, I do recommend ART OF LIVING [artofliving.org] and not just any program, because it is so much more than just a yoga-gym. If it becomes like a sport and only for self-gratification, then something is lacking IMHO. People will go tired of that after a while, and seek more genuine experiences elsewhere.

    Many practitioners of yoga, never meditate, and vica-versa. Many who meditate, don't even know
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:11AM (#6520356) Homepage Journal
    I find it appalling that meditation is being sold to business as a way to make employees more productive. While I think meditation in the workplace is a great idea, I think that doing so because of its payoff for the business' bottom line is simply the wrong attitude to have.

    Buddha taught us that the source of human misery is attachment. In order to be free from sorrow, we must be free from attachment - and from striving.

    Many people who meditate - and I suspect most Americans who meditate - do so because they hope to get something out of it, anything from relaxation, to relief from stress, enlightment or spiritual growth. But if you are striving to better yourself through meditation, you are missing the whole point. What you must free yourself from is that very striving.

    The Shambhala [shambhala.org] monk Chyogyam Trungpa [shambhala.com] was instrumental in bringing Tibetan buddhism to the US and Canada in a form that could be appreciated by westerners. May I recommend a couple of his books:

    Spiritual materialism was particularly rampant in the United States in the late 60's and early 70's. Trungpa worked hard to teach all the navel-gazers that that was a mistake.

    I can teach anyone to meditate in about two minutes:

    Sit comfortably but with your back straight. Focus just part of your attention on your breath. Clear your mind of thoughts. Don't beat yourself up if a though crosses your mind, just let it go. Then sit for a while. Try ten minutes to start with, then a little longer each day as you get used to it.

    The most important thing is to just sit. How many Slashdotters ever allow themselves to just sit? To just clear your mind without thinking of anything?

    Trungpa said there was no way out but to apply your bottom to the meditation cushion. I can promise you'll enjoy his books - he was quite a colorful character.

    I think that the day that release from attachment can be sold to American business will come when Bill Gates gives his money to the poor, shaves his head, dons saffron robes, and takes The Vows of Refuge [sacred-texts.com].

  • by joshmccormack ( 75838 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:11AM (#6520359) Homepage Journal
    Why is it people are comfortable with companies sponsoring Yoga, a religious practice? Meditation is one thing, but:

    http://www.niharonline.com/culture/religion/cul_ re li_hin.php
    Bhagavat-Gita, a part of the epic Mahabharata, expounds the synthesis of three yogas or ways of attaining union with the Supreme Self, Gyana-yoga (union through knowledge), Bhakti-yoga (union through devotion) and Karma-yoga (union through action).

    http://www.classicalyoga.org/Page18.html
    There has been and continues to be much confusion over what is religion and/or spirituality. In actuality, these two words have an identical meaning. "Religion" comes from the Latin root "religio" which means "to link-back" to the spirit. This is the identical meaning of the word "Yoga" which comes from the Sanskrit "Yuj;" i.e., "to yoke" to the spirit. Even before the word "Yoga" was used, the Vedas (Hindu scripture) use the word "Yajna" which essentially means "sacrifice." The word "sacrifice" comes from the Latin translation "sacred doing." With this understanding, one becomes aware of the inseparable nature of Yoga/Religion/Spirituality.
    • by Spasemunki ( 63473 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:35AM (#6520576) Homepage
      You've gotten your yogas crossed.

      The 'yogas' from the Bhagavad Gita are various spiritual disciplines that don't necisarily have any 'physical' component. Bhakti yoga, for instance, is simply the practice of demonstrating love and devotion to an aspect of the divine (usually your favorite Hindu deity)

      The yoga that is being taught in the workplace is a physical discipline of stretching, posture, breathing, etc. It is a course of exercise. It need not have any particularly religious component.

      Yoga, coming from the Sanskrit for 'yoke' (as you correctly observed), refers to any course of discipline or training. This can be a spiritual discipline (such as bhakti), aimed at bringing the practitioner closer to god, or it can be a physical discipline or training, such as 'physical' yoga. Sending your kids to 'time out' could probably be called yoga, if you wanted.

      So while yoga (or meditation) can be explicitly religious in tone, they don't have to be so, any more than any other activity. The religious component lies in how they are presented, and in the attitude of the participants. I'm sure there are some folks at these companies who think of it spiritually, and quite a few that think of it as the Eastern Hokey Pokie ("put your left leg in, put your right arm out, draw your breath through your chakra and . . . ")

  • Will Sri Dhananjai Bikram (a.k.a. World Yoga Champion) be offering corporate courses in meditation?

    If not, can anyone think of anyone better? I was thinking of enlisting the help of Sri Salil "The Hammer" Gupta, but he hasn't been the same since being beaten by Sri Bikram in the World Championships.
  • by semanticgap ( 468158 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:22AM (#6520429)
    Those newly hired Yoga experts better not get too comfy - major us corporations are trying to outsource meditation to India where Yoga expertiese is higher and average Yoga expert salary is 5 loafs of bread per month.
  • You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Fanta Menace ( 607612 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:30AM (#6520510) Homepage

    I'd be more relaxed and motivated if they just gave me more money and more holidays, instead of wasting their cash on these fruitloops.

  • by abhikhurana ( 325468 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @09:46AM (#6520725)
    A four thousand year old practice is called the New Age mumbu jumbo.... oh well
  • by Phoenix ( 2762 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @10:25AM (#6521250)
    ...is that really a good idea?

    I can imagine someone working on a deadline, the boss pipes up and says that it's meditation time.

    oooohhhmmmmmm....Ooooohhhmmmmmm....OOOOHHHHMMMMM DAMNIT OOOOHHHHMMMMMM!

    Or the yoga...would that be better? The annoying co-worker who whistles through his nose every time he breaths...I can imagine the stressed out "A" Type grabbing the guy and 'helping' him into several yoga positions that while are impossible, are amusing to contemplate
  • Double-edged sword (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @10:34AM (#6521378) Journal
    Yoga and meditation as practices (rather than religious teachings)[1] can be a great balm for the body and soul. Having calmer, more relaxed, more alert, and clearer employees is wonderful, right?

    Unfortunately, the companies who bring in this sort of thing are usually the companies who NEED it--the same companies that have downsized until their remaining staff is starting to gnaw on their wrists to escape the bad decisions and hellish environment.

    In other words, the thinking amounts to this: Tighten the work environment until it's inhumane, and when people start to crack, we'll get them to meditate so we can keep up the same stupid pace.

    Treating the symptoms, not the disease.

    The good news is that it's likely to backfire. If people meditate with conviction and sincerity, they're likely to see more clearly how silly it is to stay in a job like that, and have the confidence to leave it.

    [1]Not that I object to the religious and spiritual practices of them, but that's not something that a company should be promoting and sponsoring in a heterogeneous environment.
  • by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Thursday July 24, 2003 @11:14AM (#6521897) Journal
    I've often considered this, but I'm hesitant to suggest meditation to my team since since it could be construed as a religious practice, especially since I'm a Buddhist and meditation is a large part of my practice.

    If my director came to me and said "ok, I read an article about how 60 minutes of daily prayer would benefit productivity; start tomorrow," I might become pretty irritated. I don't want to do that to my employees (not to mention the legal ramifications).

To downgrade the human mind is bad theology. - C. K. Chesterton

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