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We tried group meditation for a week and this is what happened… (Part 2)

Written by Razor
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Having previously shared her own personal experience of doing daily meditation and what the benefits are, in part two of this series, Sammi Walters shares the meditation sessions we did at Razor and what the results were. Razor is a tech company and a family so we always want to look after everyone's wellbeing.

Missed part one?

In part one of this series, I shared with you my own personal experience of doing daily meditation and what the benefits are when we slow down our brainwave frequencies with just 15 minutes a day of inner quietness.

In part two of this series I’ll be sharing the meditation we actually did and what the results were.

‘Designing’ the meditation session

There are many things ‘wrong’ with the work environment when trying to achieve a meditative state. Some issues we predicted we’d encounter included a time that suited everyone, phones ringing, meeting clashes and general outside noises such as drilling or people walking through the building.

Nevertheless, we managed to work around these issues and most of us managed to maintain concentration during our sessions. And very surprisingly, the phone didn’t actually ring once all week during our sessions. The Universe was on our side. 😋

We agreed that we’d start our meditation sessions at 10am each day and the session would last 15 minutes. During the first couple of days, I gave the group a quick run through of what we were going to do, and some pointers to keep the mind clear.

The approach I took was to focus on our breathing and I offered two methods…

The first was to just focus on a 3 second inhale followed by a 5 second exhale. The differing durations of inhaling and exhaling would mean that the meditator would have to concentrate a little more to keep the rhythm which would hopefully reduce how much the mind would wander.

The second approach was to take a big inhale and exhale at a slow pace but then count down from 100. Inhale, exhale, 100. Inhale, exhale, 99… etc. This mental counting is also useful for stopping any brain chatter.

The whole point is not to have thoughts about work, what you’re going to have for dinner or what you said to your friend when you were drunk at the weekend.

By taking our attention away from the chatter of the mind, we can focus it on ourselves, our present, bringing us into the now and helping us to relax fully.

I probably didn’t stress to the group enough the importance of not getting wound up about a wandering mind at first, but as I was receiving daily feedback, I made sure to inform the group that if they received stray thoughts, just to be aware of them and let them go, and bring their attention back to their breathing.

Thinking too hard about not thinking will only cause you to think about not thinking more.

We also used music for our meditation. I normally meditate with binaural beats but this requires you to be wearing earbuds for it to really have an effect so for the group, I just listened to various meditations on YouTube until I found one that I thought would be suitable for a group.

I came across this one which is 15 minutes long, not guided, just relaxing music all the way through.

So we took a laptop to play the music, to a part of our studio where we have sofas, chairs and bean bags and sat down comfortably. Some of us sat on the sofa and bean bags and some of us on the floor. We then dimmed the lights (we tried both in the light and dark but the general consensus was low lighting was better), closed our eyes and tried to chill out for 15 minutes. I think we all felt a little silly at first and very conscious of ourselves and each other, but we all took it seriously and settled in quickly.

Yeah yeah, so what happened?!

Well, I had participants fill out a survey once a day, at the end of the day and monitored stress, anxiety, focus, tolerance of others and confidence levels. The survey was anonymous so I had no idea of who was feeling what.

The results were interesting and very mixed. By the second day of meditation there was a decrease in stress and a sharp increase in focus for a number of participants but there were no noticeable patterns throughout the rest of the week. Everything ebbed and flowed. Towards the end of the week, we were very busy and the feedback showed this as more people started feeling a little more stressed.

There was at least one participant however who had a huge decrease in stress and anxiety, a huge increase in focus and tolerance for other people and an increase in focus, and they managed to maintain that elevated state throughout the whole week.

I was slightly disappointed with the results as I really wanted people to feel better consistently. However, I also asked for feedback in the group’s own words and the feedback I got reflected a different story than the one I got from recording their moods. This is what participants said about the meditations:

Really enjoyed the meditation this week and feel it helps to start the day
I've felt generally more positive, and have slept better!
I was cynical. I gave it a go. Not sure it did much. I slept better this week but may be completely unrelated, would need more time to confirm
I'd like it to work, but struggle a bit with the distractions in here.
I haven't sensed any direct effects but I have felt more focused, and ready to get into work immediately after doing the meditation.

I also collected feedback on the challenges of meditation. Some people really struggled keeping their thoughts to a minimum and some were distracted by the environment. I anticipated feedback like this because like everything else, meditation takes consistent practice to become “good” at it and I had certainly experienced these challenges when I first started too.

A couple of people however managed to get into a really deep and relaxed state. When this happens, we can often experience a state of weightlessness, detachment and images playing out in the mind which can be pretty trippy; such as vivid colours and fractal patterns.

[I felt] a slight detachment like going into a deeper zone somewhere- it was nice!
I have felt weightlessness, visual interferences. It rocked! 🤘

When I asked if the group would like to continue these sessions, everyone replied with a resounding “yes” and they even offered their suggestions on how we could improve the environment for them to meditate more effectively.

And most importantly, nobody said "Sammi, shove your esoteric bullshit up your photon-emitting arse, this is a load of crap." So I conclude the experiment was indeed a success.

I would like to thank my colleagues for participating. I know some of them are really serious about the chill life, and the ones who aren't really bothered, thank you for humouring me. 😍 Expect a press release about our rebranding from Razor to RaZEN soon! Peace out, rock on. ✌️