Is it just the latest corporate fad or is meditation really capable of giving a business leader the edge? Steve Jobs did it; software pioneer Marc Benioff and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner do it. Panda Express founder Andrew Cherng is reputed to have once stopped a business meeting to encourage a stressed participant to take time out to meditate.
Today it's not just trendy Californians practicing meditation in order to lead their companies more effectively. The practice is now catching on in Wall Street and in London's Square mile. Not even the most cynical of observers would dispute the fact that taking time out to learn how to meditate may be a relaxing experience. But there's so much more to this ancient practice than simple relaxation. Let's take a look at 5 reasons why regular meditation really might make you a more effective business leader.
1. Meditation Improves Clarity
What are the main qualities of an effective boss? An effective leader needs to be someone who can see the big picture and move things in the right direction. That requires exceptional clarity of thought and an ability to focus on the things that really matter. Studies have shown that those who meditate regularly experience changes in the brain which improve the ability to focus. These changes can be seen in brain scans.
2. Meditation Helps Build Resilience
Research has shown that practicing meditation can be more effective than a vacation in building resilience to daily stress factors. One of the reasons why so many people fall off the corporate ladder is because they simply cannot keep up with the relentless demands of working long hours in a stressful environment. If you meditate daily you might experience less need to sleep, and might start to see situations which you previously found stressful in a new light.
3. Meditation Helps Decision Making
Whether you're running a small business or a multinational corporation you need to have the ability to make the right decisions at the right time. A study by Eileen Lunders at UCLA Laboratary of Neuro-imaging found that the brains of those who meditate regularly over a long period of time are more likely to undergo increased "gyrification"- a process which is thought to increase the brain's ability to process information and make decisions.
4. Meditation Builds Empathy
Certain types of meditation have been found to make participants more able to empathize with others and to read facial expressions. This makes for better communication and would be an asset in anyone attending meetings or dealing with clients or customers, as well as when dealing with one's own team members.
5. Regular Meditation Might Make you Healthier
It's no good being the greatest business leader known to man if your health gets in the way of you doing your job. So it's good to know that meditations can help boost your immunity, reduce blood pressure and, according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, might help control alcohol and substance abuse.
Where to Start?
There are a lot of online resources and apps that can assist you in learning to meditate and building a consistent practice. Here are two great mainstream resources: 10% Happier and Insight Timer. And if you are interested in a more spiritual approach to meditation here are some great guided meditations to help take your meditation to the next level.