Why is Paul Beard so passionate about Meditation, Yoga and Optimal Breathing in the workplace?

Workplaces can be tough places to be. In the UK, if we’re normally a full-timer, we will spend 21 per cent of our total waking hours over a 76 year lifespan, at work. This equates to 35 per cent of our total waking hours over a 50 year working life, at work. Over a third of our waking lives for 50 years!

How happy are we about that? How happy are we for those 11,750 days (92,000 hours)?

Workplaces are especially tough right now, due to a number of factors: poor economic growth, high living costs (meaning we might need to put even more into hanging on to that reasonably-paying job) and related pressure to earn more, significantly more uncertainty in the business world since the financial crisis of 2008, plus another massive layer of uncertainty with Brexit looming large (at the time of writing), a long-term increase in people’s stress, mental illness, obesity and associated health problems, the gig economy, the cash-starved public sector… I could go on. In our view, all these factors are in the context of an overall wellbeing crisis. All of these factors increase our sense of threat, anxiety and stress.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, In 2016-17, 49 per cent of all working days lost in the UK were lost due to stress, depression and anxiety. That’s 12.5 million working days – costing UK businesses billions of pounds.

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Yoga has been around for 5,000 years and is more popular than ever. Why? Because, as far as we’re concerned – taught gently and including meditation and breathing enhancement – it really is the ultimate and most powerful way to reduce stress levels, enhance wellbeing and performance and – you could say – has clearly stood the test of time.

Thousands of studies worldwide now demonstrate that Meditation improves cognitive abilities and reduces stress, Yoga improves health, energy and motivation, Breath Enhancement practices improve focus, clear thinking and decision-making.

This is why I’m so passionate about bringing Meditation, Yoga and Optimal Breathing in the workplace! Don’t get me wrong, in recent years hundreds of UK companies have cottoned on to the benefits of integrating Yoga and particularly Mindfulness into their offices. But they’re still a drop in the ocean in comparison to the 5.7 million private sector businesses in the UK alone (and that’s excluding public sector organisations) who haven’t.

There’s still a massive disconnect between the chronic costs of stress and what we at Sherpa believe is the perfect solution. Admittedly, half of UK employers are now introducing some sort of wellbeing initiative, scheme or programme, which is a step in the right direction. But most of them do not include anything yogic.

Why is this?

Our view again is that due to the way Yoga, Meditation and breath enhancement practices (usually called ‘pranayama’) have historically been perceived, taught and practiced, not just in the UK, but throughout the Western world, businesses are missing out on the potentially transformational benefits of integrating them into their workplace cultures, including a potentially excellent ROI (see our ROI Evidence page).

So what’s the block? Well, as far as we can tell, it’s because Yoga, Meditation and breath enhancement practices have almost exclusively been perceived, taught and practiced in a purely recreational, frequently esoteric, often ‘new agey’ way and sometimes in an unprofessional way.

Yes, they can and do relax people and make them feel good – often really good. They can provide the biggest and, at the same time healthiest, chill. They can make people, more aware, compassionate and empathetic. They are the best methods of personal development we know of.

But if taught in accessible, down to earth and professional ways, these yogic practices can also yield much more: They can also potently enhance professional development, including personal performance and productivity.

The original true purpose of these practices was to enable the practitioner to reach and realise their full potential. Early teachers called this ‘Enlightenment.’

We spend on average 11,750 days at work during our lives. For most of us, it is through our work – our careers – that we strive to reach our potential. But that’s hard if we are continually or frequently stressed, or ill. This is a massive chunk of our lives. Don’t we deserve some real happiness within it? Don’t our employers have a duty of care to ensure that what they demand of us and the conditions in which we work do not make us ill and unhappy?

It is proven that increasing employee happiness increases productivity. It’s a win-win for the business and the employee. But we have to seriously and dramatically tackle unprecedented stress levels and mental ill-health (and the immense suffering that is part of this) for that to happen. Let us help.

I use the Sherpa practices in my working life, as well as in the rest of my life. I already enjoy my work, but the practices enhance that joy – which is why I want to share them with individual workers. I know that they also significantly enhance my performance – which is why I want to share them with managers and CEOs.

So, contact us and we can look at how easy Transformation Yoga, Pure  Meditation Foundation and Optimal Breathing can enhance the happiness, wellbeing and performance of your people.