Steve Jobs most likely put the meditation-room-at-work trend on the map. At Apple, Jobs introduced 30-minute daily meditation breaks at the company, then had Meditation Rooms built throughout their offices worldwide in the company’s infancy. Jobs, who began meditating at 19, said about meditation - “Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”
While Meditation Rooms are available for employees who practice meditation, employees who don't pray or meditate can use the quiet room to get away from the stress of the office environment, recharge and refocus. Therefore, companies may call this type of space a Meditation Room or use the term "quiet room."
By providing a space for these practices, companies send a message that the well-being of its workers is important, enhancing its image as a good company to work for. This pays off for the company in the retention and recruitment of talent.
Innovative approaches for Meditation Rooms include:
- New Orleans city hall created Meditation Rooms designed for the youth of that city, in particular youth at risk.
- Increasingly, airports are offering Meditation Rooms, including San Francisco, Raleigh-Durham, Chicago O’Hare, San Diego, and Zurich.
- More and more High Schools and Colleges are offering Meditation Rooms for students.
- Inhere Studio designers created an attractive oval meditation pod that can drop into almost any environment to help workers relax and unwind. It is made of wood slats with a fringe curtain opening so that you feel some privacy without feeling enclosed. The pod is 8 feet by 6.5 feet and includes a meditation chair.
Cleveland Clinic study showed that meditation at work reduces stress and boosts morale even showing a 28% increase in vitality (the measure of how energized a person is during the day). Michael Roizen, M.D., the Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic, said “Unmanaged stress is the largest cause of chronic disease in the world,” Roizen said. “Stress is associated with heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia. These data show that while you cannot always eliminate the events that cause you to feel stress, you can always manage your response.”
A study conducted at the University of Washington found “that those who had meditation training were able to stay on task longer and were less distracted. Levy and his co-authors discovered that meditation also improved test subjects' memory while easing their stress.”
Nico Pronk, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M., F.A.W.H.P., president of HealthPartners Institute and chief science officer for HealthPartners. "Precision, accuracy, speed, and quality of work all suffer when people are stressed."
Meditation Rooms benefit companies just as much as it benefits employees. It can lower a company's health-care costs by reducing chronic stress, a major risk factor for illness, said Maryanna Klatt, lead author of a 2009 study at Ohio State University.
"More productive employees create a more pleasant company culture and an increased bottom line," explains Steve Orma, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and specialist in insomnia and anxiety. "This kind of culture attracts the most talented applicants, because they want to work in that kind of environment," he says. "Just look at all the perks companies like Google offer their employees and how that attracts the smartest people in the world."