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Why Meditation Has Failed You

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Why Meditation Has Failed You

The lotus positions, the chanting, the mudras, the breathing—it has all infiltrated the public mainstream.

Human beings are enamored with form. But form is simply the silhouette of function.

As with all things in life, sincerity is the lifeblood of transformation. When you sit in a pose that you believe to be correct, are you being sincere? Do you believe that taking ten or twenty minutes out of your day to meditate will bring about some miraculous change in you?

Has it worked?

Such things rarely work.

And the reason is because they are pursued and perceived as events that are independent of your daily existence. There is a period of time that you spend meditating. And then there is another (larger) period of time that you spend living your life. And as long as these remain separate, meditation will simply be a daily routine among others.

If all you seek is a bit of calmness. Or modicum of stress relief. Or a taste of mock spirituality—

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Then, by all means, carry on.

But if you seek transformation—

If you seek bliss—

Drop meditation!

And become meditative!

When you drive your car, when you do your work, when you wash the dishes, when you put on your clothes, when you brush your teeth, when you slip on your shoes—

Be Meditative.

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What do I mean by being Meditative?

Water is a beautiful example of a meditative element. If you pour it into a container, it conforms to the shape of the container. It does not resist the rock. It simply flows over and around it. It is meditative because it gives itself entirely to the situation in which it finds itself. And by giving itself to everything, and resisting nothing, it encounters no conflict. No trepidation.

Be Meditative. Lose yourself in the act that you are carrying out.

When you brush your teeth, feel the rhythm of the strokes. When you put on your clothes, feel the texture of the fabric. When you make the bed, snap the sheet and watch it ripple. When you drive to work, feel the rolling sensation as your car accelerates down the hill. When you do your work, watch the hands as they caress the slippery black keys on the keyboard.

Allow it all to be a dance. And your life will be one as well.

In doing this, you will have no need to meditate. For your very life will be a meditation.

In doing this, you will venture beyond your mind and become available to instinct. And when your work is carried out by the hand of instinct, it will be a masterpiece.

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There is no need to go to an ashram, a church, or a temple. Or for silent retreats. Or for holy books or sermons.

Such things are for those in search of prescriptions. An antidote. A smoky, green potion. Such things are for those who are looking to be shown The Way. Such things are for those enamored by form.

They are not for the serious. They are not for the sincere. For, if you are sincere, you will drop the words of others and take matters into your own hands.

And you will not do so when the time is right. You will not do so when the moon is in a particular orbit. Or when your sensibilities are ripe. Or when you feel a sudden urge.

You will do so right. This. Minute.

You will drop this side-job, this hobby, this concept of ten minutes of daily meditation.

And you will become Meditative.

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Why would you possibly have the need for these glossy magazine subscriptions if your very life is a masterful example of that which they espouse? Of what use is meditation to a person whose very life is a meditation?

In becoming Meditative, you will not be acquiring things. But losing them.

In becoming Meditative, you will not become more. But less.

You will float not toward somethingness. But nothingness.

In becoming Meditative, you will lose yourself.

And in losing the self that you have forever believed yourself to be, you will find the one you have been searching for all along.

Featured photo credit: Nickolai Kashirin via flickr.com

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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