Meditation Is the New Yoga: Bringing Mindfulness Into the Workplace

“If You’re Too Busy To Meditate, Read This,” proclaimed a wildly popular Harvard Business Review story a few months ago. It was but one data point we observed as we researched the Explosion of Conscious Media for our recently-released Conscious Media white paper. Not only are people increasingly consuming content that contains spiritual themes, but they are also integrating ancient practices into their lives.

As yoga exploded into popular acceptance over the past ten years, similarly meditation is now having its moment in the sun. First it was focused primarily on physical health, but we are now witnessing a growing emphasis on meditation’s benefits for mental balance and well-being.

This embrace of meditation is being driven by vocal proponents who claim that regular meditation can improve the immune system, cure depression, boost memory, regulate emotions, and even change the structure of the brain.

Hari Kaur is an internationally renowned Kundalini teacher and author of two books on meditation and yoga (as well as a member of our Influencer Advisory Board).  She explains why meditation is blossoming in popularity at this moment in time:


“Meditation is both a conscious act and a refinement of what is possible with our brains and our minds and bodies.  We have figured out about every possible way to exercise; the next frontier is our minds.  There will be a movement towards meditation that will include the simplest to the most complex ways of ‘getting the most’ from our brains.  The way we might get the most from our brains so we can handle the technological era is to meditate to become still - to dump our subconscious burden, to learn to light up the happy hormones and experience the balance to this existence.” 

Far from being a fringe pastime, meditation is being used by a large cross section of society. The United States Marines have introduced a program called Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (or “M-Fit”), which trains soldiers in mindfulness and meditation in order to improve mental performance and emotional health during combat situations. “Mindful Leadership” is an initiative at General Mills that mixes sitting meditation, yoga and mindfulness practices to settle and focus the mind. Google, Target and Aetna all have similar programs. Surprisingly, Aetna discovered that an hour a week of this type of practice decreased stress levels in employees by a third, slashing healthcare costs per employee by around $2,000 per year.

At sparks & honey, we’ve also taken this idea to heart, regularly practicing in-office yoga and encouraging meditative breaks in our “digital detox zone.”

How can you take baby steps into the world of meditation and integrate it into the hectic environment of the modern workplace? Here are two ideas:

  • Walking Meditation: One of the simplest ways to relax your mind and become more mindful is to take a break and go for a short walk. Whether around the office or around the block, simply walking, breathing and staying mindful and focused on the present moment can have a lasting effect.
  • Breathing: Taking five minutes out of your day and quietly focusing on your breath while letting go of mental and physical stress can help to improve focus, aid in relaxation and clear your mind of clutter.
  • Hari suggests that if you truly want to reap the benefits of meditation, you’ll need to treat it as an essential part of your life:

    “Set aside time daily and make it a priority to meditate. Just as you would attend to your appearance, develop a commitment to attend to your inner world.  Schedule your meditation practice as if you were scheduling any other appointment or client.  Add it to your calendar [and] keep the appointment with yourself.  Find techniques that match your lifestyle and personality type. Techniques that inspire you to continue. There are many different styles and techniques of meditation. If you feel the call to meditate and grow and heal, search for the right teacher, the right technique and don't give up.”

    To learn more about the explosion of Conscious Media and the mindset of the new conscious consumer, please download our white paper or our Deep Dive Report on Oneness.

    If you would like to go deeper and understand how your company can sync with the Conscious Consumer market, please get in touch with us at info@sparksandhoney.com.

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    Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

    Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

    Strange Maps
    • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
    • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
    • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

    Dramatic and misleading

    Image: Reddit / SICResearch

    The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

    Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

    The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

    Let's zoom in:

    • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
    • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
    • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
    • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
    • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
    • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

    "Frightening map"

    Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

    This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

    • "The end is near."
    • "The idiocracy grows."
    • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
    • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
    For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
    • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
    • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
    • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
    • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

    Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

    • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
    • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
    • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
    • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

    "Old people learning to Google"

    Image: Google Trends

    CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

    But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

    • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
    • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
    • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
    • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

    A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

    The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

    One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

    Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

    It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

    CNN, Fox and MSNBC

    Image: Google Trends

    CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

    For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

    • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
    • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
    • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

    And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

    The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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