Living at one’s highest potential on a daily basis seems to be an unrealistic goal for many people. But Susan Wilk, founder of Focused Mind Dynamics and No Place Like Aum LLC, has a different perspective based on 16 years of teaching meditation. This state of being can be available to anyone through a regular practice, she says. Everyone can meditate, even those who think they can’t because they have “chatty minds.”
Wilk will introduce the topic of meditation and its benefits and will share simple techniques to release stress and improve overall well-being at an upcoming event: “Self-Care in Transition — Meditation’s Got You Covered” at the Princeton Public Library on Friday, January 13, from 9:45 a.m. to noon as part of the free Job Seeker series. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Susan Wilk at email@example.com.
Professional Service Group is a community program providing networking events and seminars for anyone exploring new career opportunities or undergoing career transitions.
Although the universal goal of meditation is to quiet the mind, there are a variety of approaches that can achieve that state, such as breathing, walking, listening to music, mantras, affirmations, and visualizations. “I give my students a whole toolbox so they can choose something that works for them depending on what they need at that particular time,” says Wilk.
For instance, after or before work, you might choose to listen to music. At work, sitting at your desk, you might choose a few minutes of breathing exercises or silent repetition of an affirmation. At lunch you might choose a walking meditation. “Meditation is a portable paradise,” Wilk says. “You can practice it in a couple minutes anywhere, even sitting in a cubicle, say before a conference call, or at home, before starting a busy work day.”
Based on her experience as a meditation teacher and former senior attorney, Wilk finds that reducing excessive stress is a win-win for both workers and business owners. According to the National Institutes of Health, workplace stress robs American businesses of approximately $300 billion per year causing increased absenteeism, turnover, workplace accidents, short and long-term illnesses, and increased healthcare costs.
Wilk’s research and work experience show that meditation offers particular benefits in the work environment at all levels, from rank and file workers, to executives and business owners. It improves concentration, creativity, focus, and problem-solving skills, and communication. All these benefits work together and flow into the business, improving performance and operations, which ultimately improve bottom lines. Although meditation has not been embraced by all executives, many now realize that the goals of meditation and business are in sync.
Since Wilk started teaching in the 2000, she has seen some changes in attitudes about meditation. People in the workplace tend to be more aware of meditation and more receptive to practicing it, she says. But there is at least one problem that still persists: People think they’re too busy to meditate. “It’s a paradox. When you think you don’t have enough time, that’s when you need meditation the most,” Wilk says. Students tell her that when they make the commitment to meditate in the morning, even for three or five minutes, they have a better day.
Many business owners are more receptive to meditation, but some still think it requires sitting cross-legged on the floor. They need be shown that you can meditate sitting on a chair in a conference room, Wilk says.
Wilk became interested in meditation several years ago after her mother died. In a state of deep grief, she tried different antidotes for relief like exercising, telling herself to be strong, and other techniques, but nothing worked.
She finally tried meditation and found it to be a great help in dealing with her loss. “Meditation doesn’t take away the pain of losing someone you love, but it expands your perspective,” she says. Since then, meditation has helped her deal with other issues, and it has also enhanced the good experiences in her life, she says.
Based on her positive experience, Wilk decided to take teacher training. She enrolled in programs at the Expanding Light, Nevada City California, where she studied Ananda meditation and earned teaching credentials in meditation and stress management.
Wilk has taught at several settings in central New Jersey, including the former Transnet company in Somerville, Hunterdon Medical Center, the Princeton Public Library, and PEAC Health & Fitness, and is scheduled to teach at the Center for Relaxation and Healing in Plainsboro. She also teaches at churches and private homes and provides sessions by phone.
In her early career days, Wilk was a senior attorney at Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Washington D.C. Metro Area, and before that, a senior attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She earned her law degree from Rutgers.
Wilk grew up in Scotch Plains where her mother worked as the family home maker and a teacher’s aide, and her father ran his own business in computer services and equipment sales. Both her parents influenced her career choices by example, she says. Her mother was very compassionate and showed her that all people are connected. Her father, who was very committed to his business, showed her the value of dedication.