More and more executives the world over are turning to meditation or mindfulness to relax, get a clear mind and improve their mental and physical health. In this article, we cover why meditation can make you a better leader.
Once considered an ‘alternative life choice’, meditation has been becoming more mainstream for the last few decades. meditation can make you a better leader – the benefits are scientifically proven, and there is no cost to get started. Let’s see why more managers are turning to meditation than ever before.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.
There are many different ways to meditate, however commonly meditation may be seen as when you focus on one specific thing—such as your breathing, an object or an emotion. The point of this mindful meditation is to focus strongly on one point and continually bring your attention back to that focal point when it wanders.
The benefits of meditation
There have been many scientific studies on the effects of meditation to both mental and physical health over the years. Some of the known benefits of meditation, include
- Decreased anxiety or stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved positive emotions
- Less or less intense pain
- Increased immune function
- Improved heart function
- Heightened intelligence
- Reduced loss of brain cells due to ageing
In this mindfulness in healthcare study, the conclusion states “The evidence supports the use of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) to alleviate symptoms, both mental and physical, in the adjunct treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders and in prevention in healthy adults and children.”
No wonder more people are turning to meditation to relieve stress and improve health!
The benefits of meditating managers
We all agree that when managers are relaxed and focussed, they perform better. Using meditation or mindfulness techniques, even just a few minutes per day, can make a manager feel more relaxed and have better coping mechanisms when faced with stressful situations.
The end result means that meditation can make you a better leader. Managers who regularly meditate are more likely to interact with others better, and perform more effectively in their role.
Meditation may help managers make better financial decisions as well.
In a study at Insead business school in France, they found that research participants who had spent just 15 minutes in “mindfulness” meditation, focusing on their breathing, were 77% more likely than others to resist what’s known as the “sunk-cost bias,” the tendency to stick with a less-than-optimal strategy merely because a lot of money has been sunk into it.
You can read the research results in more detail here.
Famous leaders who meditate
Many well known business leaders and achievers have publicly supported meditation.
For example, Larry Brilliant, former director of Google.org, emphasized the importance of peace of mind, wishing the graduates lives full of equanimity — a state of mental calm and composure, in his 2013 commencement address at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Other business leaders who meditate include;
- Oprah Winfrey, Chairwoman & CEO, Harpo Productions, Inc.
- Russell Simmons, Co-Founder, Def Jam Records; Founder of GlobalGrind.com
- Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corp
- Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
- Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group
- Padmasree Warrior, CTO, Cisco Systems
There are hundreds more examples of successful individuals who have used meditation as part of their daily routines. For example, in this Business Insider article, they list 14 Executives Who Swear By Meditation.
Different meditation methods
As I mentioned earlier, there are many different meditation methods. Some may take only two minutes per day, with no need for any equipment, and others more time intensive and require other objects to help.
Common meditation techniques include;
- Breathing meditation
- Walking meditation
- Body scanning
- Gratitude meditation
- Prayer meditation
As well as these common meditation techniques, there are other activities that contain meditative components, such as the popular movement based exercised, Tai Chi and Yoga.
Spend some time researching the different types and evaluate which is the best fit for you. There’s a wealth of information available on the subject, from CDs and DVDs with guided meditation to books describing different techniques.
“Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had.” – Ray Dalio, Billionaire.
Companies with meditation programs
There are a number of organisations across the globe that believe meditation can make you a better leader, and are now offering employee meditation classes or one on one programs. Some of the better known organisations that see benefits in encouraging meditation amongst their employees, include;
The global computer company is known to offer meditation at its main campus, and it is known that the late Steve Jobs often took part in meditation retreats, was married in a Zen ceremony, and maintained lifelong friendships with many monks.
Employees at the sports product company have access to relaxation rooms, which they can use to take a nap, pray, or of course meditate.
A 2007 program at Google, called “Search Inside Yourself” helped more than 500 employees learn how to breathe mindfully, listen to their coworkers, and even improve their emotional intelligence.
Employees of Yahoo! can take advantage of meditation rooms or engage with others who share their interests in a more mindful work day by taking free classes offered on-site.
This global financial services company has been offering meditation classes and quiet spaces on site for several years, hoping that it will help encourage better decisions and to reduce stress.
Why not consider doing the same within your organisation?
We all know that meditation can make you a better leader. Why not encourage your management team to consider including meditation as an employee benefit? You can arrange for someone to come in to the workplace during the week to discuss or teach meditation to your employees. Many health companies offer this service as an ‘in house’ program.
Where to learn meditation
There are many different methods to learn the basics of meditation.
You may opt to join a meditation class close to your work or home, download a mobile app and learn on your own, attend a weekend seminar or arrange a meditation class or program through your company.
Let us explore six websites and three mobile apps that may help you learn the basics and build a habit.
Here are our hand picked favourite six websites to learn meditation, or improve your meditation practice.
There will be one site in the above list that can help you learn the basics of meditation – you could even consider sharing this list to your colleagues, and encourage others to learn at the same pace.
Meditate with your mobile
Here are three mobile apps which feature on the HealthLine article, The Best Meditation Apps of 2016
Meditation made simple. Guided meditations suitable for all levels from Headspace. Meditation can help improve your focus, exercise mindful awareness, relieve anxiety and reduce stress.
The Mindfulness App
Start your journey to a more relaxed and healthier state of mind with The Mindfulness App. Whether you are just starting out or experienced in meditation, The Mindfulness App will help you to become more present in your daily life.
Smiling Mind is meditation made easy. A simple tool that helps put a smile on your mind anytime, anywhere and everyday.
Smiling Mind is a unique web and App-based program developed by a team of psychologists with expertise in youth and adolescent therapy, Mindfulness Meditation and web-based wellness programs.
The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.
Local classes and seminars
Using your favourite search engine, you should be able to find a local class in your town or city. Many meditation classes or centres offer 4-8 week beginner meditation courses, so you can learn over a few evenings or days, as well as ongoing classes or meditation times.
Everywhere from health centres, to gyms to buddhist or religious places offer beginner meditation or regular meditation classes to the general public. You are sure to find somewhere convenient to you to try your hand (and mind) at meditation.
Meditation can make you a better leader. It is scientifically proven to help reduce stress and give you better insights into your daily life, including work.
Take the time to build a regular practice and see how it benefits both your personal and professional life. It is free, doesn’t require any special equipment and can literally be done in a short period of time every day.
I am a strong believer that meditation can make you a better leader – with regular practice, both yourself and your company will enjoy the ongoing benefits.