Meditation and the pressures of modern life

You may think that meditation is a bit too ‘counter culture’ for a savvy professional or successful entrepreneur … but read on. Employee or business owner, I hope you agree that  to achieve success in today’s competitive world you need:

  • Clarity of vision
  • Inspiration
  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Engagement

“INSEAD research shows mindfulness meditation is linked to better decisions”

According to research undertaken in 2014 by INSEAD, the world’s largest business school, just one 15-minute of focused-breathing meditation may help people to make smarter choices.

The research undertaken with Harvard Business School concluded that the two most effective business tools for twenty-first century executives are meditation and intuition. Mindfulness along with Wellness has become increasingly popular in western culture over the past decade.

Mindfulness, our basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us, can be achieved through meditation.

“An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us … to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour”

Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre

Meditation (Dhyana) is not a new practice, in fact it’s believed to reach back into prehistory. The first written references are thought to be those found in India in the Vedas around 1500 BC. The word Dhyana in Hinduism means both contemplation and profound abstract meditation and is part of self-directed awareness.

Although the original meaning of the term Dhyana is not fully understood, etymologists agree that the root Dhi in the earliest text of the Vedas refers to ‘imaginative vision’ and is associated with the goddess Saraswati who was blessed with knowledge, wisdom and poetic eloquence.

Today meditation is an interal part of yogic exercises and is also found in other Indian religions such as Jainism and Buddhism. Via Buddhism and the Silk Road, meditation was introduced to other eastern countries and by assimilation and evolution took on a variety of forms.

Alongside their people, the most valuable asset for any business owner is the mind (of the founder, leaders, team). CEOs of some of the most successful global businesses now recognise the benefits meditation can bring to both personal and corporate improvement:

  • Increased attention span
  • Improved memory capacity
  • Increased resilience
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Positivity of mind
  • Improved empathy
  • Decreased stress levels
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Long-term mental health

In 2013, a report by the Association for Psychological Science suggested that meditation increases our capacity to empathise and decreases stress levels. This supports the Buddhist teachings that an increase in compassionate response should be a primary outcome of meditation. By helping us to look at the long-term implications of actions and the impact on all stakeholders we start to make decisions based on commonality, thereby improving personal and professional life.

“As the demands of everyday life increase and we search for ways to access more energy and achieve balance, there is a growing body of evidence to support the use of meditation as a tool to gain deep rest, better health and greater happiness.” Dr Jillian Lavender

Dr Jillian Lavender will be the keynote speaker at The Room Upstairs lunch on 28th March, when her topic will be “Meditation for a Modern Life: be clear and calm … while juggling it all“. Book here

There is abundant research pointing to the intrapersonal benefits gained from meditation (increases in grey matter density (Hölzel, Carmody, et al., 2011), improved positivity (Moyer et al., 2011) wide ranging mental-health benefits (Hölzel, Lazar, et al., 2011))

While stress narrows our perspectives and negatively impacts performance, meditation helps us to relax and focus, increasing our sense of connection. In a more relaxed state of mind our thinking becomes divergent, we begin to see a wider range of solutions, leading to innovation and creativity.

Amygdala and prefrontal cortex are both effected by meditation. The amygdala, our prehistoric ‘fight or flight’ brain, has less grey matter in meditators than in non-meditators, while the prefrontal cortex, which controls awareness and decision making, is thicker. This suggests that long term meditators take more time and develop a considered response to emotional stimuli and are more efficient decision makers.

Research is proving that neuroplasticity can be improved and the degeneration of brain cells slowed through a mix of exercise, new learning, reduced stress, love, different perceptions and diet. Hara Hachi or ‘eat until you are 80% full’ is associated with exceptional health and longevity in certain populations (Willcox et al., 2014)

Meditation provides the tools to accomplish all the above by teaching us self-awareness, self-control, will power and the ability to remain calm.

If meditation can provide such powerful results, surely we owe it to ourselves to find out how to benefit from, and incorporate, a few minutes of meditation into our busy, modern, stressful days. Dr Jillian Lavender has developed a method of incorporating meditation into busy lives in a manner that is deeply beneficial. She has been teaching people to meditate since 2003. Jillian is a  co-director of London Meditation Centre and New York Meditation Center with her partner, Michael Miller

To find out more join me and Dr Jillian Lavender, keynote speaker, at The Room Upstairs lunch on 28th March, when Jillian will be speaking about “Meditation for a Modern Life: be clear and calm … while juggling it all“. Book here

Sandi Goddard is a business and branding strategist working with SMEs whose boards/owners wish to reposition their businesses for dramatic growth.

The Room Upstairs – monthly events for business and professional women launched by Sandi Goddard 15 years ago. They are warm, inclusive and supportive; a place to network, build new relationships, seek and share requests, and build business. All with great speakers over a meal and glass of wine (or soft drink!)

#Sandi Goddard #womeninbusiness #meditation

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