Ten, or even five years ago, if you told a colleague you were into meditation they may very well have considered you a bit New Agey.
If that was a bad and misled attitude then, it’s even more so now. Far from being something kooky to try on holiday in Koh Samui, or at a team-building workshop, meditation has entered the mainstream. Millions, including some of the world’s top business leaders, are openly committed to some sort of daily meditation and praising its life-changing benefits. Increasingly, it’s being mentioned in the same breath as healthy eating, exercise, reading and quality sleep as some of the vital components for professional and personal success.
Okay, so why should I meditate?
There are myriad reasons to meditate, it all depends on what you want to get out of it. Some do it to expand their spiritual outlook. Others, like athletes, meditate to focus their minds before a big game. But, since it’s you who’s asking, we’ll presume you want to know how some daily Om will add to your personal development. Here goes:
This is normally the number one reason anyone starts meditating. Remember that time when things got a littl overwhelming/scary/frustrating, and you took a quiet, extended breather in your office? This is a kind of micro-meditation, and you’ve probably done it more than once in your professional career. But while a five-minute respite like this might re-centre you for the rest of the day, wouldn’t you rather be near-impervious to stress, 24/7? Daily meditation can do this because it builds up your resilience. After a few weeks of habitual meditation, you’ll become a calmer, more rational and confident leader without even having to think
Instil positive thinking
In his book ‘Evolve to Succeed’, Warren Munson dedicates a section to the perils of ‘limiting beliefs’. These are thoughts and thought patterns based on what we CAN’T do rather than what we CAN. Consciously or subconsciously, these limiting and negative beliefs are a huge stumbling block to achieving your full potential. Whether it was a teacher at school, a lecturer at university or even a friend or parent, there has probably been a moment in your life when you’ve been told you’ll never be good enough and/or the goals you’ve set yourself are ‘too high’ or ‘unrealistic’. Once this seed has been planted in a mind that isn’t yet completely self-aware, it can be tremendously damaging and it takes a lot of effort and discipline to de-program. Daily meditation with an affirmative mantra (i.e. “I am more than good enough”, “I am successful in whatever I do”) will steadily eliminate your limiting beliefs and replace them with positive ones.
Reducing stress and eliminating self-sabotaging thoughts will free up large portions of your mind for better things. Like raising sluice gates on a dam, regular meditation will unlock creative thinking. Inspiration will flood out so furiously that you’ll basically never be short on ideas again and, because you’re on the path to removing self-doubt, you won’t second guess your ideas either.
Self-awareness is essential to success in all aspects of life. By striving to be fully cognisant of who we are, we enhance the respect and empathy we feel for ourselves and others. The side- effect is a heightened understanding of the needs and wishes of others and your own. Too often, an ambitious, driven person is intent on professional achievement because they assume
it will result in the success they’ve always sensed was their destiny. Aiming to be your best is fine, of course, but what often happens is that in the pursuit of this goal, one ends up skewing one’s priorities. Because of the false yet permeating idea that great professional and financial success requires flat-out dedication at the expense of all other ‘extraneous’ factors, the simple—but hugely important—life pleasures, such as quality time with family and friends and being outdoors, get pushed to the side. Sooner or later, a situation like this will only lead to one thing—self-destruction. This is where mindfulness comes in. It trains our brain to be more present and more aware of where we are, who we are and how we behave. Mindfulness
will be greatly enhanced by daily meditation, but the great news is you can also practise it on the go. Next time you’re rushing to a meeting, or about to commit to a big deal, or simply walking into the office, take a breath and reflect on yourself and your place in the surroundings—what are you seeing, hearing, smelling?—and just be present. If only for a moment, let go.
What type of meditation is right for me?
There’s no straight answer for that. Some people like to meditate in a class with other people and have a teacher guide them. Others prefer to sit alone in a room and close their eyes. You’ll probably find it a little hard at first because your mind just isn’t used to that mode, but if you make a habit of it—15 minutes a day is a good start, and you’ll see benefits even from that—it’ll become more natural and your life will undoubtedly improve.
And what about those meditating business leaders you mentioned?
- Marc Benihoff
- Ray Dalio
- Jack Dorsey
- Bill Ford
- Arianna Huffington
- The late Steve Jobs
- Rupert Murdoch
- Russell Simmons
- Jeff Weiner
- Oprah Winfrey