Between Crossrail construction and office workers pouring in and out of high-rises in their droves, Moorfields, the tiny street behind Moorgate Tube station, isn’t exactly an oasis of calm.
In fact, at peak hour on a weekday it is probably one of the least zen corners of the Square Mile, which is exactly why meditation guru Rajesh Ananda chose it as the spot for the City’s first ever dedicated meditation centre.
Opened last week, the Foundation of International Spiritual Unfoldment (FISU) Meditation Centre at 45 Moorfields is an educational facility for the development of meditation and stress management techniques.
It will deliver courses for City workers, as well as consultation on organisational wellbeing and corporate stress management programmes.
“Between high-profile positions, responsibility, long hours and pressure to succeed, there’s no doubt that the Square Mile contains a worrying concentration of extremely stressed out workers,” Rajesh explains.
“My hope – and indeed my aim – is for FISU to reach the heart of the companies within the City and encourage them to help their employees combat stress through the proven power of meditation.” FISU promotes a unique form of individually prescribed meditation and spiritual practices that draw on elements of mindfulness, based on the teachings of Indian meditation guru Gururaj Ananda Yogi.
The Moorgate meditation centre will offer methods tailored to businesses, plus introductory courses for workplace meditation, consultations on organisational wellbeing and stress management structure, and advice on how companies can set up their own meditation spaces for employees.
A 2013 study from the Bank Workers Charity found that the wellbeing and stress levels of employees in the finance sector were significantly poorer than that of the general working population.
Around 65% of employees in the finance industry put in up to 30 hours more than they are contractually obligated to, 40% said they had trouble relaxing, and 60% admitted they had poor quality of sleep.
Rajesh says employers need to do more to create an environment where stress is considered a threat to the company’s overall wellbeing. “All stress has its origin in fear – we fear not being able to perform, problem solve, discipline a colleague or worry about being disciplined,” he says.
“The key is in establishing a work situation where there is a balance between positive pressure and achievement and putting resources and support systems in place. “Can a goal be achieved without causing undue stress or burn out? Can there be a relaxed atmosphere when the pressure is on? ‘Yes’ is the answer.
“Meditation not only combats stress, but eradicates it at its root, rather than dealing with the effect.”