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Imagine a manager in a busy office notices that one of his key employees is sitting at her desk and appears to be doing absolutely nothing. She simple sits quietly, stares straight ahead and breathes deeply.

And as her boss, he is pleased by what he sees.

Just a few years ago, such “do nothing” behavior might have produced a reprimand. But this worker isn’t exactly doing nothing – she is taking 15 minutes to meditate. After she finishes, her work will be more efficient than ever. She’ll be more creative, get more done and help her company succeed like never before.

Business owners and managers are catching on to what mindfulness meditation can do for employees. It not only makes them better, more efficient workers, but they tend to be happier in their jobs, take fewer sick days and stay more loyal to the company. Job burnout is reduced by dramatic levels.

Science has been taking a keen interest in recent years on how meditation makes actual changes in the human brain. People that have practiced meditation for several months or years may experience a thickening of the brain’s gray matter, according to a study by a Harvard team published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. The Harvard team also found lower levels of stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol.

So meditation makes the brain smarter and reduces stress in the body. Add those two together and you have a superior, happier employee. Better yet, you don’t need months or years for benefits to start appearing. Many people report positive changes within the first few days of taking up meditation.

The benefits of meditation have been known for thousands of years. Some form of meditation is found in all major religions although it perhaps most associated with Eastern traditions, such as Buddhism.

Today we know that meditation need not be attached to a particular belief system. Basically, it involves just sitting quietly, clearing the mind – or letting thoughts go – concentrating on deep, rhythmic breathing and “just do nothing.”

A growing number of companies — including Google, Apple and Nike, says Inc. Magazine — are encouraging employees to meditate at work. Rather than getting jazzed up with caffeine and sugar on a coffee break, a bit of mindfulness can supercharge an employee like nothing else can.