Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).
Post Reply
User avatar
JMGinPDX
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:23 am
Location: PDX, OR, USA

Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by JMGinPDX »

Hey all,
Just wondering if anyone had any experience starting up a meditation/sitting group in a business/corporate environment in the USA, particularly with the corporate over-sensitivity to anything smacking of promoting spiritual practices.
I work for a fairly progressively-minded European-based automotive company, in a satellite office situated in a fairly progressive/blue area. We've had free yoga classes in the past, and we have a wellness committee that includes references to meditation practice, but nothing tangible that teaches/encourages meditation practice.
I was thinking of offering to organize a monthly sit and maybe share some VERY basic techniques that I've learned and have worked for me.
My specific role is as a trainer, so I end up espousing concepts from the practice in my classes focusing on human/customer interactions anyway.
I'm also a fairly devout Soto/Rinzai Zen practitioner.

I realize I'd need to strip out/distill/sanitize the more "Buddhist-y" elements in a manner similar to the vipassana movement and teachers (a tradition with which I'm already fairly familiar) a la Sharon Salzberg, et al but wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts/suggestions or had done something similar.

Thanks!

narhwal90
Posts: 1000
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:10 am

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by narhwal90 »

There is a long-standing meditation group here at work, meeting weekly in a conference room for a 30 min session the first 10mins or so are guided. It is specifically secular ie no dharma talk, I know a theravadan and a couple zens go there and I contribute nichiren. There has been no difficulty in scheduling the room. The lights are dimmed and most people sit in the chairs.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10611
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by Queequeg »

I suspect the relative silence is in fact a collective groan...

LOL
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 2744
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by Caoimhghín »

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:10 pm
I suspect the relative silence is in fact a collective groan...

LOL
I certainly had a groan, but I also had a "if you can make work better, why not?" reaction.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)

User avatar
PeterC
Posts: 2296
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by PeterC »

Many years ago at my office someone invited a lama in to teach shamatha once a week. The key points of it were (a) it was just meditation, no other Dharma teaching, so didn't require anyone do to religious soul-searching*, (b) it was done discreetly - meeting room at the end of the office at the end of a working day - so people didn't feel self-conscious about coming, (c) it was an outsider, so nobody had to worry about whether they wanted to learn meditation from Bill in cubicle 14 who had said something they didn't like last week. As a result a lot of people came, enjoyed it, and a few progressed to learning the Dharma seriously.



* Although they wouldn't have found if they did...

User avatar
JMGinPDX
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:23 am
Location: PDX, OR, USA

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by JMGinPDX »

Caoimhghín wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:47 am
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:10 pm
I suspect the relative silence is in fact a collective groan...

LOL
I certainly had a groan, but I also had a "if you can make work better, why not?" reaction.
Your groan was no louder than the one I emitted when I posted this question..... :)

Thanks for the input!

shaunc
Posts: 831
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by shaunc »

I'm sorry but I have to ask this question.
Exactly what sort of jobs do you have that the boss will give you time off to meditate.
As a matter of fact what sort of boss gives you time off to do anything at all.
If I take time off work either my leave entitlements or my wages are docked.

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 11106
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

shaunc wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:30 pm
I'm sorry but I have to ask this question.
Exactly what sort of jobs do you have that the boss will give you time off to meditate.
As a matter of fact what sort of boss gives you time off to do anything at all.
If I take time off work either my leave entitlements or my wages are docked.
You're permitted a minimum of 30 min for lunch, two 15 min breaks per 8 hour shift by federal law. it's not much, but also none of their business what you do with the time.

Answer as to what sort of boss does that:

The humane and decent kind, which can be a rare sighting unfortunately. Either that or a place that is trying to create complacency through mindfulness - but that seems most common in large scale corporate environments, and management rather than employee - led.
I realize I'd need to strip out/distill/sanitize the more "Buddhist-y" elements in a manner similar to the vipassana movement and teachers (a tradition with which I'm already fairly familiar) a la Sharon Salzberg, et al but wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts/suggestions or had done something similar.
In my own work I do this with patients in groups, which means I get in a small bit of practice as the "facilitator" or whatever. For that I use mainly strategies from clinical stuff, mainly Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment therapy. ACT might be worth looking at if you want in depth secular practices. ACT in particular is pretty non-clinical sometimes and isn't a bad fit for general secular meditation.

Honestly, I would pick clinical mindfulness from various therapies above the more generic secular mindfulness movement, because the clinical stuff at least addresses people's actual cognitive and emotional issues, which is what draws a lot of people to meditation. You don't have to use them with the clinical packaging.

I also practice at work by myself (short five minute bursts here and there when no one is around) all the time, not only for the obvious reasons but because it helps keep the stress of the job in check, which is a constant.

I had no idea there were places where you could bring in Lamas and such, that's awesome, but I can see it causing all kinds of controversy in some work places.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

avatamsaka3
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:11 am

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by avatamsaka3 »

If a work environment (any one) is a nasty mess, it would be better to clean it up and really work on concrete issues. Actually, this would help people meditate more, and if they're generally less frazzled and stressed they might have more time/energy to study and to do serious dharma stuff. If some people get some tranquilizing benefit out of it, that's great, and that's meritorious. But again, extending support and friendship could have a much greater effect.

In my experience, it's good to keep "my worlds" separate: the world of dharma, the world of personal life, the world of whatever. If they're too connected, and one of them gets nasty, then more than one gets nasty, and you get overwhelmed. Just keep that in mind. Corporate environments are not going to put dharma principles first, by a long shot, even if they pay lip service to some.

User avatar
PeterC
Posts: 2296
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by PeterC »

shaunc wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:30 pm
I'm sorry but I have to ask this question.
Exactly what sort of jobs do you have that the boss will give you time off to meditate.
As a matter of fact what sort of boss gives you time off to do anything at all.
If I take time off work either my leave entitlements or my wages are docked.
A lot of jobs are on the basis that you have a certain amount of work to do, and you figure out how to manage your time to do it. Aside from general social pressure to look like you're working, there's no attendance. This is not always better than set working hours, as it means you never really have holidays where you can switch the phone off and ignore email. There are times in my career where I've felt that McDonalds paid a higher hourly wage than what I was getting.

User avatar
SonamTashi
Posts: 363
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:30 pm
Location: Utah

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by SonamTashi »

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:45 pm
shaunc wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:30 pm
I'm sorry but I have to ask this question.
Exactly what sort of jobs do you have that the boss will give you time off to meditate.
As a matter of fact what sort of boss gives you time off to do anything at all.
If I take time off work either my leave entitlements or my wages are docked.
You're permitted a minimum of 30 min for lunch, two 15 min breaks per 8 hour shift by federal law. it's not much, but also none of their business what you do with the time.

Answer as to what sort of boss does that:

The humane and decent kind, which can be a rare sighting unfortunately. Either that or a place that is trying to create complacency through mindfulness - but that seems most common in large scale corporate environments, and management rather than employee - led.
I realize I'd need to strip out/distill/sanitize the more "Buddhist-y" elements in a manner similar to the vipassana movement and teachers (a tradition with which I'm already fairly familiar) a la Sharon Salzberg, et al but wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts/suggestions or had done something similar.
In my own work I do this with patients in groups, which means I get in a small bit of practice as the "facilitator" or whatever. For that I use mainly strategies from clinical stuff, mainly Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment therapy. ACT might be worth looking at if you want in depth secular practices. ACT in particular is pretty non-clinical sometimes and isn't a bad fit for general secular meditation.

Honestly, I would pick clinical mindfulness from various therapies above the more generic secular mindfulness movement, because the clinical stuff at least addresses people's actual cognitive and emotional issues, which is what draws a lot of people to meditation. You don't have to use them with the clinical packaging.

I also practice at work by myself (short five minute bursts here and there when no one is around) all the time, not only for the obvious reasons but because it helps keep the stress of the job in check, which is a constant.

I had no idea there were places where you could bring in Lamas and such, that's awesome, but I can see it causing all kinds of controversy in some work places.
Is this a federal law? Because I've heard so many employers say that they aren't required to provide breaks or lunches, and basically imply that "we're so compassionate, we're gonna give you a lunch break anyway" but offer no other breaks of any kind.
:bow: :buddha1: :bow: :anjali: :meditate:

User avatar
jake
Global Moderator
Posts: 1252
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:13 pm

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by jake »

SonamTashi wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:44 am
Is this a federal law? Because I've heard so many employers say that they aren't required to provide breaks or lunches, and basically imply that "we're so compassionate, we're gonna give you a lunch break anyway" but offer no other breaks of any kind.
No, it is not a Federal Law. 19 States have laws that require employers to provide break or lunch periods. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state/meal-breaks

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 11106
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

jake wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:41 am
SonamTashi wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:44 am
Is this a federal law? Because I've heard so many employers say that they aren't required to provide breaks or lunches, and basically imply that "we're so compassionate, we're gonna give you a lunch break anyway" but offer no other breaks of any kind.
No, it is not a Federal Law. 19 States have laws that require employers to provide break or lunch periods. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state/meal-breaks
Wow, I had no idea, you're right. I guess I've just lived in states where this was law, I completely thought this was part of the FLSA for some reason. Was it ever?

According to this chart there is no law in New Mexico, but I distinctly remember notices being posted for this, and employers being expected by some entity to provide this standard break structure.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

User avatar
JMGinPDX
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:23 am
Location: PDX, OR, USA

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by JMGinPDX »

shaunc wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:30 pm
I'm sorry but I have to ask this question.
Exactly what sort of jobs do you have that the boss will give you time off to meditate.
As a matter of fact what sort of boss gives you time off to do anything at all.
If I take time off work either my leave entitlements or my wages are docked.
Not only do I live in Oregon, where the labor laws are pretty progressive (e.g. not only are employers required to provide breaks and lunch, they're required to provide the lunch break within 5 hours of the start of the shift), but I also work for a major German automotive manufacturer that takes more of its highly progressive employee welfare cues from Germany than it does US precedence. At our Chicago-based facility where the majority of IT staff (largely foreign nationals or transplants from Asia and the Middle East) are located, they even have a separate area for Muslims to do daily prayers and for Hindus to practice meditation/yoga. My office has a "quiet room" where I do my sits. And many of our employees are salaried, so have freedom to take a break whenever they have the time. :)

shoe
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 1:47 am

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by shoe »

My former employer had mindfulness in the morning. However, the employer was really toxic and had a high turn over. I now view workplace meditation with skepticism. Instead addressing issues like low wages, and abusive clients, they really made seem like it's the employee's responsibility to just deal with bad working conditions by meditating. If you are going to offer mediation at work, I would attach it to another event where coworkers have to interact with each other. Like a potluck or free coffee and bagels. If coworkers are in an environment where they can actually talk with each other, this would probably address skepticism.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10611
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by Queequeg »

shoe wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:27 pm
My former employer had mindfulness in the morning. However, the employer was really toxic and had a high turn over. I now view workplace meditation with skepticism. Instead addressing issues like low wages, and abusive clients, they really made seem like it's the employee's responsibility to just deal with bad working conditions by meditating.
This is probably one of the biggest critiques of corporate mindfulness. Its misappropriating the light of meditation as gaslight.

A member who used to post here more frequently, DGA, wrote a dissertation on mindfulness in corporate settings. Maybe he's lurking and can chime in.

Here's a link to his dissertation:
http://ebot.gmu.edu/bitstream/handle/19 ... sAllowed=y
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

shoe
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 1:47 am

Re: Starting meditation/sitting group/class at work?

Post by shoe »

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:49 pm
shoe wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:27 pm
My former employer had mindfulness in the morning. However, the employer was really toxic and had a high turn over. I now view workplace meditation with skepticism. Instead addressing issues like low wages, and abusive clients, they really made seem like it's the employee's responsibility to just deal with bad working conditions by meditating.
This is probably one of the biggest critiques of corporate mindfulness. Its misappropriating the light of meditation as gaslight.

A member who used to post here more frequently, DGA, wrote a dissertation on mindfulness in corporate settings. Maybe he's lurking and can chime in.

Here's a link to his dissertation:
http://ebot.gmu.edu/bitstream/handle/19 ... sAllowed=y
Thanks! Btw, the average employee lasted about three years before quitting. Workplace assault became normal. It wasn't unusual to see an employee in a cast,or hearing that someone needed to be rushed to the ER. At first I felt guilty for quitting because I felt like my clients needed me. So, for anyone out there that is in social work, healthcare or education... It's okay to quit if it's too dangerous for you.It's your employers job to improve conditions, not you.There are plenty of other ways that you can contribute to society, but being treated like a punching bag so HR can avoid a lawsuit isn't one of them.

Post Reply

Return to “Lounge”