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Zen and the Art of Corporate Productivity

More companies are battling employee stress with meditation

For Dave Jakubowski, vice-president of business development for Internet service provider United Online (UNTD ) Inc., the job isn't what it used to be. Instead of an unlimited expense account and stays at the plush Chateau Marmont, the 31-year-old Manhattanite now brown-bags his lunch and stays at a Hyatt when he's in Los Angeles on business. He logs 18-hour days to help his Westlake Village (Calif.)-based company hit its quarterly sales targets of around $8 million. How to cope? Jakubowski is no breathe-like-a-tree kind of guy. "I'm in business," he says, "and I need results." So he recently turned to a mat and 60 minutes of silence. "It's amazing," he says of his new meditation practice. "I'm able to sort through work challenges in this state of calm much faster than trying to fight through it. And I make fewer mistakes."

Increasingly, the overstretched and overburdened have a new answer to work lives of gunning harder for what seems like less and less: Don't just do something -- sit there. Companies increasingly are falling for the allure of meditation, too, offering free, on-site classes. They're being won over, in part, by findings at the National Institutes of Health, the University of Massachusetts, and the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University that meditation enhances the qualities companies need most from their knowledge workers: increased brain-wave activity, enhanced intuition, better concentration, and the alleviation of the kinds of aches and pains that plague employees most.