The practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness all highlight India’s recognition of the importance of mental, as well as physical, wellbeing. A lesser known aspect of this belief is how it can be embedded and translated into the inner workings of businesses and cater to the needs of their employees. In a world where mental health awareness is becoming more and more widespread, along with the worry of work-life balance and the toll that the corporate world can have on a person, why are platforms of spirituality, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and other states designed to aid the mind and spirit, not more available in corporate culture?
A company that has taken this to an inspiring level is Mu Sigma’s Bangalore office. Our group of 15 New Zealand students visited Mu Sigma on the 28th November 2019. Upon arrival we were taken upstairs to the main office and given a tour of the floor. The thing that caught most of our attention was the wellness area. This was not just a couple of beanbags in the corner of a room with an espresso machine; it was a significant area of space, gated by leafy plants and kitted out with incense, yoga mats, meditation pillows and an employee whose sole job was to be head of mindfulness and wellness. This woman told us that there are also counselors available at all times for the employees to speak to about whatever they may feel they need to.
What was truly memorable about this experience was how much the idea of respecting the mind and soul was seen as integral in this company. The head of wellness spoke to us about how work cannot properly get completed if the mind is not being taken care of, because it will be messy and not performing to its true capacity. She said that the brain can only properly focus on a task for 20 minutes at a time and once it gets distracted it takes 25 minutes to properly return its focus to that task. She went on to say that this means that we must help our brain to do this, by calming it and nurturing it with meditation, yoga and mindfulness. These states help us to have greater focus and not get distracted.
The head of wellness then took us through a guided meditation before we went on to learn more about the company. For myself, and I’m sure many other students, this was not only a welcome experience, but also an enlightening one. During this time we were not only heavily focused on soaking up as much of India as we could (as we still are), but were also in the midst of getting our results back from end of year exams. The strain that we put on our minds often goes unnoticed until we take it off, and someone telling us exactly how to relieve our minds was freeing.
This student-life stress does not go away simply after graduating, because the hectic-ness and busyness of learning and working and living, which we love, is what tires us out. Because we so often love what we do, we don’t notice the negative effects that work, especially in a corporate space, can have on us. Mu Sigma has created a space where its employees can explore their own stresses and talk them through with someone, meditate or do yoga, without even having to leave the office. I can only imagine the positive effect this type of initiative could have on corporate life in New Zealand.