Leading the charge on many of our wellness initiatives is Amy Garas, Senior Manager Spectrum & Belonging and a certified mindfulness and meditation teacher. These initiatives are a central focus for “Mind Matters,” one of the founding pillars of WE@Audible, short for workplace evolved, that focuses on implementing solutions that meet employees’ needs in our current and future work environments.
To help employees achieve better balance, health and well-being, we’ve offered fireside chats, tools, and resources including guided meditations, and have provided 10 extra personal days and reimbursement for fitness- and wellness-related expenses as well as office equipment to create a more ergonomic home set-up.
Since March, Garas has been leading weekly meditations for employees around the globe. She recently sat down with us to discuss her work and the importance of wellness in the workplace.
Tell us about your role at Audible and how you started incorporating mindfulness into your day job.
The Spectrum & Belonging team focuses on creating an environment at Audible that embraces different perspectives and allows employees to bring their authentic selves to work each day. I work very closely with Audible’s network of employee-led Impact Groups, which help guide the company on how best to support and celebrate the full spectrum of employees—and our customers.
I started exploring mindfulness during middle school after visiting my best friend's mom’s new-age bookstore where they held various workshops. I’ve focused throughout my life on learning new modalities on a personal and a teacher level whenever I could so that I can use them personally and share with my loved ones—be it Reiki or becoming certified in meditation and mindfulness.
When we first started working from home I held a few meditation sessions for close colleagues because, like the rest of the world, I was more stressed than usual and I could only imagine how people who didn’t have a daily practice might be faring. Those sessions quickly turned into a companywide series. Using my experience as meditation teacher has felt like an essential way I can be of service to my Audible family.
What tools and resources have you developed as part of your meditation series for the Mind Matters initiative?
The weekly meditation sessions for Audible employees have focused on different topics like gratitude, breathing exercises, and self-compassion. Many of these sessions, including one with the founder of the Newark Center for Meditative Culture, were recorded so employees can listen at their leisure. I’ve also led smaller group meditation sessions with various teams across Audible, including an upcoming one with our customer service colleagues in Costa Rica.
An exciting offshoot that grew out of the program’s success was being asked by the WorkingWell team at Amazon, Audible’s parent company, to create and record meditations for their employees globally. You can listen to one here.
How does meditation factor into well-being and why is that important in the workplace?
The beauty of meditation is that it allows us to exist in a space where there is no such thing as right or wrong, good or bad. There is nothing in that moment for us to fix or do. In addition to reducing anxiety, stress and depression, being more mindful enhances awareness and gives us perspective on what's truly important as we live and work amidst the multi-layered crisis of a global pandemic and the social injustices that have existed for centuries now coming to a head.
How can people incorporate meditation into their everyday lives?
Start small and schedule time on your calendar as a reminder. Even if you can only dedicate a few minutes before your first meeting, it's better than not meditating at all. Those minutes will help you create space to approach your day with a fresh mindset. If you can't get to it throughout your day, meditating before bed can help ease you into a restful night of sleep.
Do you have any Audible recommendations that can help get people started?
I highly recommend listening to the Audible Sleep collection for meditations to help you decompress and sound baths that calm the mind and body. My other recommendations are The Monkey Is the Messenger by Ralph De La Rosa, The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, and Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve by Stanley Rosenberg.