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  • Writer's pictureDillon Kelleher

Peace Training Brings Movement, Mindfulness, and Meditation to the Workplace (Part 1)

Peace Training, the thoughtful healing system that addresses mind, body and spirt, emerged out of necessity.

In order to best understand the problem at hand, consider Mark, a fictional representation of the tolls western society takes on our bodies and minds.

Mark is middle-aged and has been a part of the workforce since he graduated college. His job requires him to sit down at a desk for the majority of his day, and like eighty percent of his fellow Americans who will experience back pain at some point in their life, Mark’s lower back has been screaming at him for the last few years. It is so uncomfortable that his quality of his work has started to decline. Additionally he is missing two weeks per year as a consequence. This is the average amount of time an employee with back discomfort loses from their job each year. Similarly, his sleep has been suffering from the nagging pain, and he never feels rested, contributing to his overall irritability that his coworkers sense and are forced to navigate. Due to the fact he has grown increasingly sedentary, since the days of his youth when he played high school football, he is also mildly overweight now. His only experience with exercise dates back to athletic training growing up and his joints are too fragile, achy, or outright incapable of working out like he used to. His family has a history of heart attacks, he recently had a health scare of his own, and he has fears about what he can do to change his fate, or whether that’s even possible. Around seventy-five percent of people going to the primary care doctor are visiting with a stress related condition. Mark is one of the ninety-seven percent that doesn’t receive adequate treatment of their needs with regards to stress management.

Consider Amy, another composite generated from current statistics and case studies of every day people who implemented the Peace Training methodology.

Amy is in her late sixties, and when she isn’t the backbone for the team at the office, she is the matriarch of her ever growing family. Her weekends are ideally spent chasing her grand-kids, and tending to her garden. Like over seventy million other people, she experiences chronic joint pain. The sciatica and plantar fasciitis that appeared during her last pregnancy never quite dissipated, and her knee pain followed. After burning the candle on both ends, taking on more at work, while watching her grandchildren for an extended visit, her knee became swollen to the point of not being able to get out of bed. When she visited the doctor they told her she had degenerative arthritis, and had a mild tear in one of the ligaments in her knee, likely sustained from repetitive trauma over a lifetime. Even if she took more time off from work than she already had been, leaving a big hole in her absence, getting the surgery her physician strongly recommended didn’t even guarantee increased mobility or confidence, and only aimed mitigate the symptoms of pain. It was likely that her movement would still express compensations post surgery, therefore leaving part of the original issue unaddressed, and probable to reappear. Afraid to lose her job, or upset her family, or coworkers, and feeling limited with her options for recovery treatments, she decides she can live with the pain. She has a hard time gardening now, and has had to scale back work and grandma duties to her own chagrin, joining the twenty-five percent of Americans who are physically inactive, and the majority of which that sit for six-ten hours day, and then lie down in a bed for the rest of it. Amy wants to make a change, but doesn’t know what to do.

Lastly, consider Ace. He is in his thirties, graduated from a good school, and holds a high stress position for the company.

His job pays well, but also, has demanded that he have a robust work output for almost a decade. What his job doesn’t know is that Ace is one of the twenty-one million adults experiencing depression each year, and he’s not sure if even he sees his future with the company anymore or at all. Our bodies are not designed to endure prolonged states of fight or flight chemicals, which often flood through us as a stress response during routine work interactions, and in turn, dysregulating our nervous systems. This prolonged state of arousal, panic, or heightened stress pulls energy away from vital organs, and as a practice, in general, makes Ace more susceptible to coronary heart disease down the line. He currently sees a therapist, where he discusses the source of his trauma, and coping strategies for feeling triggered. However, once the work day starts, he gets stuck in a negative-thought loop that runs away from him and doesn’t end when he clocks out. His brain is addicted to it, and every new task he is given at work activates his fear. Where our attention goes, our energy flows, and fear begets more fear—Ace can’t help but feel fixated on the worst case scenario always playing out. He tries to eat healthy and works out at a gym, when he can. He knows that nutrition is important and exercise is good for him. Yet, when he doesn’t go to the gym, or succumbs to fast food, he beats himself up, drowning in shame. These habits surrounding the lower vibrating emotions are debatably as bad for him as not going to gym or eating poorly in the first place. Ace understands that if he doesn’t make a change, his health will continue to deteriorate.

Like Mark, and Amy, he’s stuck in sympathetic overload, in need of parasympathetic restoration, wishing to heal, and willing to do the work if guided in the right direction.

These are the two gears of our Autonomic Nervous System. The ANS has the overall job of regulating our involuntary bodily functions and maintaining homeostasis in response to external stimuli. The sympathetic nervous system controls the fight or flight response, and is also referred to as the ‘drive gear.’ Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system facilitates our rest, recover, relax, and digest reflexes, and is also known as the ‘brakes.’ If we consistently meet the challenges and tasks of our lives with a sympathetic response, this maladaptive behavior gets ingrained into the mind, and thus the body, and a host of subsequent health problems are spawned, think back to Mark, Amy, and Ace.

“Neurons the fire together, wire together.” In order to make a health change, interrupt a negative-thought loop, or break free from a cumulative injury cycle, we have to train. We train to build up the skill set of becoming durable, physically and mentally, to have options when we need them, and to rehearse experiencing the ideal outcome. In any given moment, whenever Mark, Amy, Ace, or anyone for that matter, encounters a stimulus, a sight or sound, their brain scans its archives for the last encounter with that stimulus, and then acts accordingly to protect you to its best ability. By this logic, I can predict my future. I am living in the past by reacting to the present based off of my previous experiences, and unless, I make a change, I will continue to unconsciously respond the same way. Therefore, painting a clear picture of what my future, at large, and specifically my future responses to that stimulus will look like.

When we meditate with the intention to heal, and summon elevated emotions, such as gratitude, joy, love, freedom, bliss and courage, we can change our DNA. The body doesn’t know the difference between in an internal experience and an external experience, and by internally experiencing these high vibrating emotions repeatedly, our external reality begins to reflect this internal change. For someone like Ace, meditating regularly, honing that skill, and utilizing the Heart Math Institute’s techniques of self-regulation, he was able to visualize a bright future at his company that allowed him to more fully realize his talents, ultimately bringing even more of himself to his work, including his joy.

The Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in 2024, argued that “movement snacks,” moving for even a minute an hour, was more beneficial for long term health than visiting the gym for an hour at the end of the day. The design of the typical desk chair is configured in such a way that the bucket/concave style seat pushes the sitting person’s hip bones to the front part of the ball & socket, effectively jamming them up, and then simultaneously, the lower back rounds under the pressure gravity, compressing the diaphragm, collapsing the chest, rounding the shoulders, and protruding the neck forward, leaving the spine vulnerable. This bodily behavior is similarly experienced when we sleep on our backs or stomachs on particularly soft mattresses (see the graphics). Therefore, what this study is highlighting, while the getting up and moving around is essential, there also seems to be a disparity in how we are spending our time resting. If we wish to be healthy and free in our bodies, we can’t just practice that at the gym, it’s an all the time thing. Mark acquired an ergonomic chair that supported better posture and breathing, he learned low-impact, high-reward joint maintenance exercises that he could do right at his desk, and within the first month of training, from these changes alone felt symptom relief for the first time in over a decade.

Amy, like Mark and Ace, was also able to benefit tremendously from a few minor changes, and a new healing program. One of the things Amy had never considered was the notion that her footwear was actually reinforcing her instability. Due to the pronounced arch support in the sole of the shoe, when Amy walked barefoot around the house, she felt the effects of her collapsed arch without the support. Her arch never had to support itself, the shoe had coddled her foot, and in this case, short term comfort had compromised long term security. Additionally, most modern shoes also have a toe box that is too small, which contributes to the formation of bunions, and disconnects the foot from the hip, putting extra pressure on the knee. Overall, the combination of the narrow toe box and conditional arch support is a recipe for accelerating plantar fasciitis and joint pain. Amy got a pair of barefoot shoes, started wearing toe spreaders at night, performed regular myo-fascial release, paired with complementary, easy to remember exercises, and within a few months her orthopedist couldn’t believe her transformation.

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