How meditation affects your brain and improves job performance
HEALTH & WELLBEING | 3 MIN READ
Research suggests that practising meditation can change not only our behaviour and emotions but also the structure and functionality of our brain.
Find out more about the benefits of meditation in the workplace.
Download Morson's mental health toolkit for the workplace which explores how to approach a conversation around mental health.
We all know how different kinds of mental activities can change the brain, crossword puzzles help increase neuroplasticity, playing an instrument enhances our brain function, speaking more than one language builds up our cognitive reserve and exercise promises vital brain food. But what effect does meditation have?
Meditation and mindfulness are certainly hot topics at the moment and the mantra of repeat, refocus and re-centre may be a powerful way to boost the types of intelligence that matter most. Research suggests that practising meditation can change not only our behaviour and emotions but also the structure and functionality of our brain.
In today’s stressful, fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to bring your awareness to the present. One of the best ways to do this, of course, is through meditation. The workplace can often be one of the biggest sources of stress in your life with anxiety and burnout lurking closely behind. But studies suggest that meditation can activity increase productivity too, with one 15-minute session of mediation resulting in a 22% reduction in mind-wandering at work.
"Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had." – Ray Dalio, successful philanthropist
A study from the Max Planck Institute found that the three different types of meditation training are linked to changes in different brain regions. Participants, aged between 20 and 55, meditated for three months practising three different types of meditation:
- The Presence module – focussed awareness meditation where participants learned to focus their attention, bringing it back when it wandered, and to attend to the breath and to their internal body sensations.
- The Affect module – which helped to enhance empathy and compassion for others.
- The Perspective module – similar to mindfulness or open-monitoring meditation. This practice encouraged observing your own thoughts non-judgmentally and enhancing understanding of the perspectives of others.
After the study the researchers scanned the participant's brains and found the following:
- Meditation in the ‘Presence’ module was linked to an enhanced thickness in the anterior prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which are known to be strongly involved in attention.
- ‘Affect’ meditation was linked to increased thickness in regions known to be involved in socially driven emotions such as empathy.
- Meditation in the ‘Perspective’ module was associated with changes in the brain that understand the mental states of others and inhibiting the perspective of yourself.
The results show a direct correlation between the type of meditation and brain function, demonstrating how meditation can change the brain in just a short amount of time. The study is evidence that whilst shifting brain function, meditation can improve well-being, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The benefits of meditation in the workplace
There are many organisations that believe that meditation can make you a better leader with companies like Apple and Google offering free meditation classes for their employees. As this blog has explored, it is scientifically proven to help reduce stress and give you better insights into your daily life, including work.
Below are four benefits of meditation in the workplace:
- Improved focus and productivity
- An improved mood and less stress
- Better relationships and teamwork
- Improved job satisfaction and engagement
Mental wellbeing at Morson
The topic of mental wellbeing isn’t new to us at Morson – it’s been part of our conversation for several years. Our activity has centred on creating a culture and working environment which is open, unbiased and inclusive, underpinned by professional support and resources for employees in need.
As part of our ‘Morfit’ initiative which aims to encourage our employees to exercise at varying levels, we host twice-weekly Yoga classes where a trained yoga instructor visits our office to host a class.
In May, we launched our Mental Health First Aider network which provides personal support across our UK office network and aims to weave a solid support network into our working culture. Find out more about our Mental Health First Aiders here.
As part of our mental health awareness initiative, we have responded to employee feedback requesting more practical guidance around mental health in the workplace. As a result, we have created a new toolkit which looks at subjects such as signs and signals someone might be experiencing a mental health issue and how to approach a conversation around mental health. Click here to download the toolkit.