By Prajakta Sukerkar, Marquette Center for Peacemaking meditation instructor – A lot of people who have heard the word ‘meditation’ believe it to be a practice of intense concentration, focus, patience, and above all, effort. While some meditation practices incorporate aspects of these values in them, increased focus and concentration are actually the fruit of meditation. Meditation in itself is effortless, and some define it as the art of doing absolutely nothing.
Doing absolutely nothing. That probably makes meditation sound really difficult, right? Especially if you have a million things on your to-do list that need to get done and not enough time to do them. But if you think about it, when are you more focused and better able to get things done at work? When you have too many thoughts and are agitated, or when you are relaxed and have clarity of mind?
The quality of our mind determines the quality of our life; the way we work, the way we interact with others, and the way we deal with situations are all reflective of the state of our mind. Therefore, the more peaceful our state of mind, the more effective we are in our day-to-day activities.
So, how do we get there – to a state of effortlessness, meditation? One of the fastest and easiest ways to meditate is by controlling the way we breathe. Research has shown that the pattern of our breath is influenced by our emotions. In a study by Phillippot, Chappelle, and Blairy (2002) (who are professors and researchers at Université de Louvain, Louvain-de-Neuve, and Université du Québec à Montréal), participants were asked to watch films that aroused emotions such as anger, happiness, sadness, and fear, and they observed that each emotion was linked to a specific breathing pattern. The researchers then had a different group of participants breathe in specific breathing patterns corresponding to the different emotions and found that the participants experienced those same emotions.
Thus, not only do our emotions affect our breath, but we can effectively use our breath to manage our emotions and mind. We will be exploring this unique connection between the breath and mind in our upcoming meditation series: Meditation for Stress-Relief, aimed at reducing stress, increasing clarity of mind, productivity at work, and overall wellbeing.
Come and experience the power of meditation. The following Employee Wellness classes are offered by GROW with Marquette:
- February 7: How Meditation Can Reduce Stress and Promote Health and Happiness
- February 21: Session Two – The Practice of Meditation 101
1Philippot, P., Chapelle, C. & Blairy, S. (2002). Respiratory feedback in the generation of emotion. Cognition & Emotion, 16, 605-627.