Breathe Deeply : Workplaces Embrace Wellness
On a rainy Thursday afternoon, in a plush pink conference room in Manhattan, a group of colleagues formed a meditation circle. As they sat in their own silence, sirens and traffic wailed below. “Bathe in the joy of truly loving yourself,” a former Tibetan Buddhist monk advised them.
Over the course of an hour, the participants — co-workers at WayUp, a company that matches employers with recent college graduates and students — were guided through deep breaths, spoke to one another about “flow” and “powerful creative states,” and completed a self-hypnosis exercise.
They bonded over their challenges with sleep and overworking. At the end of the session, one employee mentioned his chest feeling less tight; another described a pinch in her back dissipating.
“That was awesome,” said Brandon Santulli, the office manager at WayUp. It was his first time meditating. “I feel very energized now,” he said, “and that’s not usually how I feel until I get another cup of cold brew.”
As companies have stressed the importance of work-life balance and mental health, and a younger, more open-minded workforce has joined their ranks, wellness initiatives have ramped up nationwide.
These optional activities, often scheduled during company hours, include basic meditation and yoga, as well as vision-boarding (creating a collage, essentially), energy consulting, sound baths and hypnotherapy. They are meant to be restorative and instructive, without veering too didactic. And they’re not peculiar to millennial-led startups: Multinational corporations, restaurant owners and federal government agencies are among the employers calling for more wellness in the workplace.
“No one wants to sit down for an hour and be lectured about stress management,” said Cassandra Bianco, the founder of Wellbeings, a network of corporate wellness consultants who, in addition to leading the meditation workshop at WayUp, have performed cacao ceremonies for Spotify and hosted an intuitive eating course at the Wing, a co-working space and social club for women. “They want to sit for an hour and feel de-stressed.”
The ultimate purpose is to encourage a corporate culture that takes a more holistic approach to employee well-being and embraces imperfection in the daily grind.
“I’ve seen firsthand what five deep belly breaths before a meeting can do,” Bianco said.
文／Sanam Yar 譯／莊蕙嘉 核稿／樂慧生