04/11/2013 06:05 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2013

Meditation: The Diamond in the Rough

Running marathons is cool. Triathlons are cool. Tough Mudder -- an event that hosts a 10-12 mile obstacle course that was designed by the British Special Forces -- is cool.

Lighting incense, closing your eyes, and listening to hippie music is currently not cool. I see possibly the greatest diamond in the rough being portrayed in popular culture the wrong way.

Roughly 20 million Americans meditate; I'm not sure why the number isn't at least 80 million considering how great of a tool it is.

Meditation is a diamond in the rough, and it's caked in mud with so many misconceptions. I've read hundreds of books on meditation, and I have to say there are way too many rules. For example, a vast majority of people think you have to sit down to meditate -- you don't. Eastern cultures have been doing standing meditation for years. Another misconception is that you get so blissed out that you can't concentrate on getting things done -- this is not true. You don't have to listen to hippie music or burn incense. You don't need a meditation space. Make the world your meditation space. Make your desk, the free throw line, the jog out in the park your meditation space.

Meditation is perhaps the greatest tool for laser-sharp focus, happiness, and a calm state of mind, something that every professional athlete and business executive should have in their arsenal.

If you're a business executive the facts don't lie; you're up against a $300 billion gorilla that is smashing your earnings. The facts say that American businesses are losing $300 billion a year.

Exercise is an incredible way to reduce stress, but the combination of meditation and exercise could be the holy grail. This is another topic I don't see addressed that much, the combination of physical exercise and meditation. How about doing 10 minutes of meditation before you go to the gym? How about doing some meditation before you run and leave your iPod at home? How about doing it after you workout?

A recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology shows how mindfulness meditation may decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Stress impacts your focus, and if you're a professional basketball player standing at a free throw line with three seconds left in a game that is tied, how you manage stress is going to impact that outcome. Phil Jackson, perhaps one of the greatest winning basketball coaches of all time, knows this -- he had the Los Angeles Lakers doing meditation. The U.S. Marine corps use meditation. Men and women at Facebook, Aetna, Target, and General Mills are using meditation. U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan does meditation.

If you're a business executive, how you manage stress is going to be a determining factor in how well you perform.

Fear is also a stressor that meditation may help curb. The amygdala is a small little almond-shaped apparatus in your brain that can make the bravest, boldest person in the world live in a state of fear when it activates. Meditation has been shown to help calm this powerful device in your brain down.

I don't care who you are, every day you are encountering hundreds of fears and stressors that are stopping you from achieving what you want in life. Meditation helps you to recognize this process and builds space from it so that you don't have to act on these emotions. Meditation also makes you happier, and when you happier, your family life and work life will be better.

Meditation is a lifestyle. It's a decision to live with a calm, happy, and focused mind.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

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