It's a trend that many of the most successful people in business share: sitting alone...and being quiet. That's right: Oprah Winfrey, Rupert Murdoch, Arianna Huffington, Katy Perry and more all meditate.
Meditation often gets a bad rap. Maybe it's because we think it's an intense practice, one that only Buddhist monks or people with hours a day can really do. Or maybe because it sounds terribly boring, I mean sitting around, not even thinking? Does anyone have time for that?
But taking five minutes, just five, could make you a happier, more productive and a more creative person at work.
Stress is holding you back
Do you find a major source of your stress comes from work? You're not alone: the American Psychology Association found that 65% of US adults cited work as a significant source of stress. Stress can affect your immune system, ability to think creatively, or change the way you eat.
This adds up into a real cost for businesses. WHO estimates that US businesses are losing $300 billion a year due to stress.
While we can't undo the heavy cost of stress with one magic bullet, meditation is a low cost and effective way to help manage stress in life.
Scientific benefits: what meditation gets you
For the rational skeptics, scientists have been doing hundreds of studies on meditation and how it affects the brain.
- improves sleep
- creates skill set to manage stress
- reduces negative emotions
- manage pain, anxiety, depression and more
- improves creativity
Meditation helps you have stronger coping mechanisms for both your professional and personal life. By training your mind, when stress and problems do arise, you have more tools in your arsenal to deal with it.
Even better? You may spend less on health care too.
All of these reasons show why major companies including, Google, HBO, Proctor and Gamble, even Goldman Sachs are creating opportunities for employees to meditate.
Leadership through deep breaths
Authentic, empathetic leadership is becoming the norm. With the rise of social media, one tweet can create a PR nightmare. The higher the profile, the higher the scrutiny. Just the other day, Lesean McCoy was called out for leaving a $0.20 tip. Our work and personal lives are becoming more meshed than ever. We're not only expected to achieve great revenue, but to treat people decently, and create meaningful engagement.
An important tool in 21st century leadership is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. More importantly, it's about using this information to guide thinking and action. Being able to understand emotion like this can help you connect better with co-workers and employees. It's easier to navigate the complex social issues at the office. More importantly, it can help you persuade and lead based on compelling emotional information.
So how does sitting in silence connect to persuasion? Meditation helps leaders expand their emotional intelligence. A few minutes of deep breathing help people to take a step back, focus better, and improve their listening skills. More importantly, you're better able to see your impact on others and stay present in the situation, especially highly stressful ones.
Instead of losing your cool, you'll be focused and able to stay above the fray.
How to meditate in five minutes or less
Just like the variety of benefits, there are many different ways to meditate. For starters, there are great guided meditations that are both short and sweet. Buddhify has a variety of guided meditations for all sorts of situations. While it costs $3, Buddhify has helped me avoid many nights of restlessness. With guided meditations from five to fifteen minutes, this app is a great way to help sneak in meditation to your daily life.
Another way to meditate is to focus on a single thing. Sometimes this includes staring at a candle, or repeating a word or phrase to yourself. Other times, it's tracking your breath. Lose track? Just start again. Even for just a few minutes a day, this form of meditation is great to help strengthen your ability to focus.
Want to have some fun? Try a laughter meditation.
To wrap it up
Meditation isn't just for gurus and hard core yogis. Science shows that sitting quietly and focusing on your breath (or laughing) can help you focus better, feel better, and bring your best to work. Who knows? You may find yourself sleeping better and saving money on coffee too.
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