Design company uses Buddhism to create happy place to work
by Liz Day, Wales Online, Mar 22 2013
Newport, Wales (UK) -- You Buddha believe it!
This group of Welsh workers are meditating away the stresses of office life with Buddhism – and they hope their practices will make their company reach a state of Nirvana.
The Newport web and development agency Mettaengine was established in June last year by three kindred spirits, who met at a Buddhist centre.
Creative director Graham Shimell said: “We usually try to meditate together every morning – it’s a good way to start the day.”
The staff meditate three times a day in a specially-adapted shrine room, which contains a statue of Buddha, along with candles, incense and a singing bowl.
“We strike the bowl before we start meditating. The vibrations are calming and fade into silence, which helps us to get into the right mindset,” added Graham.
“Meditation has made a huge difference to my state of mind. It has helped me to let go and not cling to certain wants and desires.”
Managing director William Elworthy said: “Sometimes, if things get a bit stressful, I go and meditate for a few minutes and when I come back into the office, I have a completely different perspective on things.”
The staff aim to bring Buddhist practice to the workplace by following a code of ethics based on Buddha’s five precepts, which include helping others, truthfulness and generosity.
William said: “We want to take meditation off the cushion and spread it into the workplace.”
Graham explained the principles translated simply into everyday life. “It all comes down to acting with kindness and working as a team,” he said.
The staff hope the company will counter negative perceptions of businesses.
“Hopefully we can be an inspiration for certain companies out there, especially following the recent problems created by the credit crunch,” said Graham.
The founders were inspired by a Cambridge-based all-Buddhist business called Windhorse Evolution, which grew from a market stall in the 1980s into a leading UK gift business with a multimillion pound turnover.
The web developers came to Buddhism from a variety of backgrounds – Graham by American Beat writers of the 1960s, while William developed an interest through martial arts.
Both started reading Buddhist texts and meditating, before joining the Cardiff Buddhist Centre about four years ago, where they met operations director John James.
William said: “We went on a retreat together and it became clear that we all shared the same vision. We have a good business dynamic.”
He became increasingly disillusioned with his previous working environment.
“I ran a business for six years, but it was taking over my life. It was too cut throat and the balance weren’t there. The vision of just making money wasn’t enough,” he said.
The staff have observed a growing demand for Buddhist teachings in Wales and believe the Welsh Buddhist community is growing.
Graham said: “There is a very materialistic culture in the western world, but some people have realised there is more to life than just desiring new items.
“Buddhism is about the internal rather than the external. It’s about realising there are more important things than just desiring the latest BMW to make you happy.”
The business is currently run by three members of staff, who are hoping to expand by offering training courses and apprenticeships.
“We would like to work with other Buddhists, but we would not want to be seen as excluding other people. The most important thing is that they are prepared to follow the ethical precepts,” said Graham.