THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

CEO Secrets Part Two: A Meditation Practice

The best leaders are able to be totally present at will. In a board meeting or when closing an important deal, the best leaders can be in the present while integrating their knowledge and all the events that are happening around them simultaneously.

 The truth is anything can cause your conscious mind to let go of comparative thought and find "Integrative Presence." It would be impossible to catalog all experiences people have had. What is important is to know the difference between the two states of mind. Meditation is a practice that will help you find your personal road map into this powerful state. 


When I have asked people to describe how they feel when they experience "Integrative Presence" they say things like: confident, at peace, exhilarated, powerful, graceful, focused and present. Some report a slow-motion effect. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told how the five seconds he had to win the NBA championship with one shot seemed like five minutes. He felt relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world, yet he appeared to move like lightning to the rest of the world -- the very definition of "Integrative Presence." His creativity, within these few precious seconds, was nothing less than pure genius. He was integrating the skills he had learned over the years, his desire to make the shot, and the flow of the moment, without interruption from his thoughts.


There Is No Substitute For Practice

Most people have experienced this state of mind; the question is what percent of your life is spent in this state. The art of getting into this state of mind is letting go of thoughts and connecting with the flow of events in the moment. Meditation is practice for your mind and body. An athlete must practice their sport, a leader must practice disciplining their mind. Meditation is a time-tested form of practice. 

There is no Substitute for Practice. 
As in sports, there is no substitute for practice. Knowing how to move from "normal thinking" into Integrative Presence comes from practice. Take time to connect with your peak experiences and observe how you transitioned yourself. Find ways to still your mental chatter and connect with the present, and you will become a much more effective leader and a happier person.



Meditation Technique

The following is a simple meditation technique that can help you clear your mind. It will help establish an inner road map to stillness, which allows you to flow with present reality.

The Right Environment: Find a quiet place and arrange to have no distractions or interruptions. A special place in your home or a place out in nature. It is especially important in the first stages of meditation to find a special place. It helps you move towards stillness naturally. Over time you will be able to meditate anywhere, at any time, even as you walk through hallways.

Sit Comfortably: You want your body to be at ease. Find a chair that is comfortable and sit up straight; be sure not to cross you arms or legs. Sitting up straight in a way that you will not have to move should one of your limbs fall asleep is important.

Three Deep Breaths: Take three deep breaths and hold the oxygen in as long as you can on each breath, and let the oxygen out suddenly once you can no longer hold the air.

Breathe Normally: Return to your normal breathing pattern. Close your eyes and put your attention on your breathing process. Follow your breath in and then out. Notice the rhythm and depth of each of your breaths. Spend 2-3 minutes just following your breath with your attention.

Imagine a Beautiful Place: Imagine yourself in a beautiful place in nature.
Choose a favorite spot or create a spot that would be ideal for you. Each time you begin meditating come back to this place. It will serve as an anchor for peace and help you to relax each time. Once you have felt the peace of this place, use it as a background and return your attention to your breathing.

Let Go of Thoughts: As thoughts arise in your mind, do not resist them. Practice observing without processing, and then letting go of them. You can imagine them floating up into the sky or being absorbed by nature. As you let go return your attention to your breathing.

Deepen Your Breathing: Once you have found your natural rhythm increase the depth of your breathing. Inhale 10-15 percent deeper and exhale 10-15 percent deeper. Play with this deeper rhythm until it becomes natural. Continue to let go of thoughts as they arise.

Notice Stillness: Notice that at the moment you fully inhale, just before you exhale, there is a still point. Likewise, after you have fully exhaled, there is the same still point. One, the inhale, is full and the second, the exhale, is empty. Notice the difference.

Fall into Stillness: At times when your total focus is on this deeper breathing process, you will notice the stillness inside you. Let your consciousness fall into this stillness. Let go and don't be afraid; it is your destination. Stay there as long as your ego will allow. It might take a number of sessions before you achieve this, but it is worth the practice and discipline.

Open Your Eyes: In about 20-25 minutes gently open your eyes without moving and notice the world around you. Notice your state of mind and journal your experience.

Take This State of Mind With You: Practice staying with this state of mind as you get up from your chair and walk, focusing on your breathing as before. Find a rhythm between your steps and your breath. Count how many breaths per step until you find a comfortable pace that is a little deeper than normal. This will help you begin to integrate this state of mind into your daily life.

Do Short Meditations: Once you have mastered this practice you will be able to take a few minutes to clear your mind between meetings or even with short pauses during meetings.

Meditation creates the same state of being that Florence Joyner and other athletes achieve when they are in "The Zone." Your consciousness will deepen and widen and you will be able to perform more effectively. Remember, there is no substitute for practice.

As you continue to meditate, you will find the quality of your thought improving. You will have great ideas and find it easy to solve problems. Creating this space of stillness within you leads to Integrative Presence. Meditation is a powerful tool for those who are creating the future. It helps with idea generation and stress reduction. If you are a leader, you need both to be successful.