1. Stress Relief
First, the research: Hundreds of studies have demonstrated how meditation reduces stress. I’ve picked just one study in case, if you start sitting around with your eyes closed, you need something scientific sounding to convince your friends that you haven’t lost your last marble.
This one really is a no-brainer. I mean everyone knows that meditation reduces stress, or to be more accurate, enhances our ability to manage stress in a healthy way. But let’s take a closer look at how important that is. The first two causes of death in the USA, where I live, are heart disease and cancer. And one of the main things that contributes to both of those conditions is, you guessed, stress. Excessive stress weakens your precious immune system which protects you not only from little annoyances like the flu, but also helps you avoid these kind of big bad problems. But managing stress is not just about avoiding dying young. It’s about improving your quality of life. Take care of this and you’ll enjoy better sleep, greater peace of mind, better digestion, less anxiety and improved all round health and well being.
I think just this one benefit makes meditation it worth the effort. But there’s more…
2. Concentration and Focus
Research: Since meditation is a concentration exercise it should come as no surprise that it improves, well, concentration. But someone felt they had to prove it:
Apple CEO Tim Cook says Apple is the most focused company he’s ever come across, and they seem to be doing ok, so maybe he’s onto something. Focus is the big secret of success that every professional coach talks about and every creative leader struggles with. Imagine if it became your default mind-set. Think of the mental energy you’d save if you could concentrate better, resist distraction easily and home in on what matters, all day, every day. You’d finally start harnessing the potential of your mind, and that’s big!
Research: While there is tons of anecdotal evidence that meditation enhances creativity, there are very few studies, because creativity is so hard to measure. But there is at least one, and I think it is pretty juicy:
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo’s famous statement is as true today as ever. As imagination feeds innovation, new ideas are the life-blood of modern business. Some companies, like Disney, even set aside rooms for dreaming up new ideas. With meditation can just walk into that room inside your own head. And when you connect directly to your inner source of ideas you come up with solutions that would never have occurred to you before. And sometimes that one right idea can make all the difference.
Research: Stanfords CCARE research project has demonstrated how compassion based meditation helps to regulate emotion and support clarity of mind.
When the mind is unclouded by emotion we can view ourselves and the world from a different perspective. This gives rise to a clearer kind of thinking, less affected by our ego-centric bias. In fact it feels like more than just clear thinking – it can lead to a more direct kind of knowing.
With this broader point of view confusion dissipates, priorities fall into place and clear decisions arise out of a harmonious blend of reason and intuition.
Research: Stanford University and other top research institutions have studied how certain meditation practices nurture the areas of the brain associated with both compassion and empathy. Here is just a taste of the extensive work going on in this field:
People usually know if you care about them. And if members of a group care about one another the whole dynamic changes. Compassion creates a solid foundation for teams where people listen to and understand one another. Work becomes the fulfillment of a shared vision rather than a feeling like an exercise in satisfying someone else’s ego, or a chore performed in exchange for a paycheck. And with shared vision come a degree of dynamism and passion that can’t be manufactured.
Want to transform your workplace so that everyone looks forward to Mondays? Try love. It’s magic.
“Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.” – Steve Jobs