The corporate world is not typically considered to maintain a strong connection to spiritual values. Companies that have introduced provisions for spiritual and mental health have noticed increasing benefits and popularity among workers.
Bridgewater Associates founder, Ray Dalio, first introduced Transcendental Meditation (TM) to his 735 employees eight years ago. A report by Business Insider stated that his company generated a culture of “radical transparency”, which Dalio compares to being a member in the “intellectual Navy SEALs.” The company push for transcendental meditation was an effort to counter the pressures of the community of transparency.
Dalio incorporated TM practice into his own routine in 1969. His interest in meditation was sparked as a college student after learning Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the TM founder, taught the Beatles how to practice.
TM is taught by certified teachers who provide practitioners with unique mantras to personalize their practice. The mantra is a meaningless “vibration sound”, which practitioners repeat to themselves during a 20 minute seated meditation session. Meditators are guided by their teachers to let thoughts come and go without investing in them, in order to reach a state of conscious rest. Meditators and their teachers meet regularly to reflect on sessions and practice technique.
In the recent years, TM has been integrated into mainstream corporate practice. The David Lynch Foundation TM center was originally established in 2005 to provide free TM classes to neglected students, veterans, and victims of domestic abuse and PTSD. Since it’s founding, Dalio has donated roughly $20 million through the Dalio Foundation and currently makes up 20% of the foundation’s funding. In 2016 alone, the foundation taught 1,150 professionals and a total of 2,500 since 2013. More than half of the professional participants of the foundation are from Wall Street.
For his own employees, Dalio initiated a plan for employees with tenure six months or longer to take a TM course customized for the Bridgewater company. The course extended over four months and costs $1,000 which, when completed, would be reimbursed for half of the cost by Dalio personally. Since the plan was first offered in 2008, a majority of Dalio’s employees began meditating consistently twice a day. The positive response inspired Dalio to design a formal company wide TM reimbursement and training plan. Currently, about 500 of Bridgewater employees have been trained.
Dalio has become one of the largest corporate supporters of Transcendental Meditation which led him to be featured in various publications such as the New Yorker and “Transcendence”. In a passage from the book “Transcendence” he states that TM practice has helped him find his center, which he describes as “being in a calm, clear-headed state so that when challenges come at you, you can deal with them like a ninja — in a calm, thoughtful way.”