Why we Meditate in Team Meetings

Posted May 25, 2016
By Niko Skievaski

On Wednesdays we come together as a full team for our weekly meeting. We’re geographically distributed, so the majority of us appear as a tiny box on a TV at the end of the conference room table. After the normal banter and AV woes are ironed out, the first thing on the agenda is silence—we sit and meditate together. This lasts about three minutes and is followed by a lap around the group to share your personal wellness intention for the coming week and assess how last week’s intention went.

This is a bit of a weird way to start a company-wide meeting at a tech company so I wanted to share the reasons why we do this and some of the things we’ve learned.

Increased Awareness

Meditation, at least for me, is about checking in with yourself. It’s an interruption to our default state of continuously planning, analyzing, strategizing, and thinking. Not that any of these things are bad, but when you sit to meditate, you’re able to simply acknowledge them from a level above and check in—much like a team meeting.

This time gives us pause as we prepare to launch into a packed agenda that’s sometimes fraught with contentious debate or analytical deep dives. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and it certainly helps us be more active listeners and effective collaborators. If we can bring a glimpse of that into our formal team meeting, I’d call it well worth the couple of minutes.

People, not employees

The team’s grown to nearly 20. The quick round robin of weekly intention setting ensures that each person on the team has the floor early in the meeting. Additionally, it allows us to get to know each other better as we connect beyond coworkers as fully-rounded people. Everyone knows that I go on Sunday hikes with my wife and that Dharma delivers flowers to friends having rough times.

These public intentions also give us a chance to help one another outside of the office. Andy goes on weekly runs with Luke, who’s training for a triathlon. James and Devin frequently bet to raise the stakes on their health competition. The intentions are taken seriously but they give us an extra chance to have fun with each other.

Accountability and empathy

We write down everyone’s wellness intentions in our meeting notes. Publicly stating a goal and publicly reconciling it is great motivation, plus it brings empathy to the situations where a long night of work or upcoming deadlines may have prevented someone from accomplishing their goal. As a team, it’s important for us to know each other as humans in order to learn how and when we can help as professionals.

In contrast to the obvious benefits, working remotely can be lonely. You miss the post-meeting shenanigans and happy hours where conversations spill beyond work and friendships are made. This weekly practice is one of a number of initiatives we put in place to attempt to close this gap. We’re intentionally letting personal life creep in to ensure that we never forget that before we are technologists on a mission in healthcare, we are people with lives and relationships and health.

Originally posted in TinctureTranslating ‘fortress medicine’ into plain english. A digital town square for fresh ideas & new perspectives. Reverent to Humanity ~ Irreverant to Status Quo.