Employers turn to meditation to relieve workplace stress

Meditation may become the norm in high-stress workplaces after new Australian research proves it more effective than traditional stress management.

Dr Ramesh Manocha of Sydney’s Royal Hospital for Women will release the details of the study during his address to The Safety Conference at the Sydney Showground on October 29.

Dr Manocha is a special guest of the presenters of the workplace safety forum, the Safety Institute of Australia’s NSW Division.

Researchers found that after eight weeks of mental silence meditation training called sahaja yoga, occupational stress scores improved 26 per cent. A non-mental silence relaxation program reaped a 13 per cent gain, while a waiting list control group lifted just 1 per cent.

In a later field trial of mental silence meditation by 520 doctors and lawyers, more than half of the participants whose psychological state (K10) scores indicated they were “at risk” were reclassified as “low risk” after two weeks of meditation.

The results will come as no surprise to some of Australia’s most conservative employers, who Dr Manocha says have already embraced meditation.

“Meditation is the best-kept secret of a handful of professional firms already offering workplace programs,” Dr Manocha says.

“One of Australia’s top three law firms, doctors and at least one of the big four banks have used them very successfully for a couple of years now.

“Aside from protecting workers against stress, it helps them achieve highly productive flow states more often and stay there longer. This is something that’s become harder to achieve with constant phone calls and emails.”

Encouragingly, mental-silence meditation programs are not expensive, says Dr Manocha.

“The research proves the best results can be achieved from sahaja yoga, which is not commercialised and you only need two 10-minute sessions a day to see health improvements.”

Despite scientific evidence of its benefits, Dr Manocha believes it will take time for meditation to become mainstream.

“This represents a paradigm shift for health in the workplace,” he says. “This is not about amputations or even the treatment of an illness – it’s about providing people with the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

That paradigm shift may already be occurring.

The WorkCover NSW-sponsored forum for occupational health and safety professionals, The Safety Conference, will feature a wellness theme this year.

Over its three days from October 27 to 29, attendees will enjoy 15-min seated massages and be encouraged to join in stretching exercises between presentations.

Australian Exhibitions & Conferences
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