THE COMPANY WAKES UP
Meditation and mindfulness imply a release not only from unproductive and unhealthy stress, but also from the immense creative potential, the capacity for innovation, and the qualities of authentic leadership.
In 2006, the American giant General Mills, Häagen-Dazs ice-cream and Cheerios Cereals manufacturer, decided to give an unusual training to its top executives: a mindfulness course for companies of 7 weeks. The results of this experiment were impressive. It marked a complete change in corporate culture and, as an addition, led it to first place in business ratings.
There are currently no accurate statistics on how many US companies offer workplace meditation, but according to Aon Hewitt, a quarter of the largest American corporations have launched stress reduction programs through mindfulness practices.The 25%. Amazing!
In Libremoción we offer executive retreats, meditation programs, mindfulness for companies and a mentoring program for the development of projects from consciousness. You want to add your company to this corporate innovation? Write to us and we will find what is more suitable to your needs.
How meditation and mindfulness are changing businesses
The practice of meditation or mindfulness seems deceptively simple. Sitting in a comfortable position, eyes closed and perceiving the physical sensations of your body and the activity of your thoughts. You don’t judge what happens, you just observe from moment to moment how all these sensations arise and disappear without reacting to them.
Thanks to this simple practice meditators progressively realize the changing nature of sensations and thoughts, including anger, pain, frustration or disappointment. Over time, this practice allows practitioners to calm their minds. As a result, people become less emotional, much more focused and much easier to work with.
This is not a New Age fashion, as academic research confirms these findings and explains the neurobiological mechanisms of these changes. Meditation has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. By reducing the cortisol level, the mind calms down and gains stability, which in turn translates into a greater capacity for concentration.
The extraordinary results of mindfulness and meditation have made it popular not only among spiritual seekers, but also among psychoanalysts, doctors and now entrepreneurs.
The numbers driving change.
What have General Mills, Linkedin, Google, Apple, Repsol, Ford, Procter & Gamble, Twitter, Sony, Barclays, General Electric or Mahou San Miguel discovered, to name a few companies? What is so valuable for entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Ray Dalio, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or Bill Gross to invest their time in? They have discovered and incorporated a powerful catalyst for tremendous positive change in the key areas of their enterprises: meditation and mindfulness.
Numerous scientific studies carried out by the most prestigious centers and universities in the world show their benefits and advantages. For example, the Mental Health Foundation study concludes that:
- 70% reduction in depression, stress and anxiety leaves.
- Improvement in quality of life increased by 79 per cent.
- 50% reduction in absenteeism from work related to health problems.
- 79% in improving interpersonal relations.
- 53% increase in the level of job satisfaction.
According to a research carried out by the US company iOpener Institute in a company of 1,000 employees:
- Increase in yield and productivity by 12%.
- 19% reduction in sick leave.
- Reduction of worker turnover and replacement costs by 46 per cent.
The data revealing the innumerable advantages are already unquestionable. But the benefits of meditation and mindfulness go far beyond data, transforming the lives of those who make up these companies.
GENERAL MILLS & HOW MINDFULNESS REVOLUTIONIZED THE COMPANY
General Mills was a pioneer among companies that use mindfulness.
“It’s about training our minds to be more focused, to see more clearly, to have more creativity and to feel connected with other people. The practice of mindfulness develops in us empathy towards ourselves and all the people around us: colleagues, clients…and this is one of the main reasons for meditation” -Janis Marturano, assistant general advisor to General Mills.
The headquarters of General Mills, the food giant, is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It employs approximately 3,000 people distributed across all types of departments: marketing and product development, including litigation, mergers and acquisitions of new companies. They work in a network of modern buildings connected by covered walkways, in impressive facilities. The company looks quite typical: employees dressed in casual clothes, working hard and with a friendly attitude.
However, General Mills has a most unusual corporate culture. If you open the door on Tuesday morning, you will find dozens of senior and middle managers meditating together in silence, sitting cross-legged on zafus. If you go to the meeting room that night, you will find more than 50 people in the “tree” position in a yoga class. In each building there are rooms distributed and designed specifically as a space for meditation, with zafus and yoga mats, so that employees can immerse themselves in peace between meetings. General Mills has something like a corporate spiritual life.
The number of company employees who practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness in the workplace increases every year. What it started as a parallel project transformed the culture of the corporation, included in the list of the 200 best multinational companies according to Fortune magazine.
General Mills’ initiative pioneered the new movement that is quietly changing the corporate world. Through meditation, yoga and mindfulness the ancient wisdom has filtered to the higher levels of some of the largest companies on the planet
A successful and more conscious business culture based on entrepreneurial mindfulness and meditation.
William George, a board member of Goldman Sachs and former director of the medical giant Medtronic, says “I have a very busy life. And meditation helps me keep my focus on what’s important. If you are fully present here and now, at work, you will be more effective as a leader, make better decisions and collaborate better with other people. And these are the main reasons why business meditation is necessary”.
William began meditating in 1974 and has never stopped practicing since. Today, he is one of the leading apologists for meditation in the corporate context and author of several articles on this topic published in Harvard Business Review.
Although the combination of mysticism and capitalism may seem inappropriate, there is fertile ground on which companies like Google, Target or First Direct are applying ancient Eastern wisdom combined with modern management. In large and small organizations, Eastern wisdom is changing Western business.
Goldman Sachs & William George
Apple & Steve Jobs
The founder and former head of Apple was a practitioner of Zen Buddhism and openly shared about his meditative trips to India, shaping his vision of the world and, as a result, designing all the company’s products.
Jobs says in his biography, “If you just sit and look, you’ll notice how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it down, the anxiety will only intensify, but eventually it will begin to calm down. And when this happens, you will discover that you can hear more subtle things: right at that moment your intuition begins to blossom, you begin to see things more clearly and you find yourself in the present moment. You see much more than you saw before. It requires discipline; you must practice”.
Google and its program “Look Inside You”
Google introduced the practice of mindfulness to more than 1,000 employees under the “Look Inside You” program. In 2007 Chad-Meng Tan, the creator of this program and one of the company’s first employees, was inspired by the course developed by General Mills.
Aetna & Marc Bertolini
Aetna is one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States and revolutionized the way we do business by introducing mindfulness and yoga into the workplace. In 2010, Marc Bertolini, president of the company and meditation practitioner promoted the initiative of offering yoga programs and mindfulness to its employees. 3,500 employees followed in their footsteps and in 2012, Aetna began offering workplace meditation and yoga programs to its insurance clients.
“Every morning I get up and do my asanas, practice pranayama, medito and chant Vedic mantras,” Bertolini told the Yoga Journal. “It helps me to be more focused, more present here and now”.
Target and its meditative merchants
The commercial giant Target, located in Minneapolis, created in 2010 a group of “meditating merchants” who practice meditation once a week during lunch. Currently the group has 500 members, and is an open group to which any employee of the company can join.
Mikisha Nation in charge of human resources helped the group initially, as she is sure that meditation simplifies their work, she says about it: “Although at first the idea of sitting on mats in the middle of the meeting room may seem strange. Happy, healthy and enthusiastic team members contribute to creating an atmosphere in which everyone enjoys working”.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a coffee company, offers monthly retreats to its employees every month, in which family and friends can participate.
And your company, where is it?
We are witnessing a real revolution stirred by the period of hectic stress that we are living in this era, and it is the birth of conscious companies. In this type of organization the well-being of all the people who make up the company acquires special relevance. It’s a real evolutionary shift. Companies today face a huge cultural transformation challenge and the opportunity to have an extraordinary and profound influence on society and the lives of the people they touch. And you? You want to stay stuck in old patterns, or you want a company full of meaning? We can accompany you every step of the way! Contact us and we will design a plan that fully suits your company.