|What is mindfulness mediation? Many people misunderstand it. There’s this misperception that the practice is new age, quirky, or maybe even religious in nature. And, while it does have roots in Buddhism and Hinduism, many people refer to it simply as their “quiet time,” as it provides a way to disconnect and clear the mind.
“Mindfulness is a way of paying attention that originated in Eastern meditation practices. It has been described as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999, p. 68) and as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4)”
Given this, there are many reasons why people include mindfulness in their daily rituals, many benefits they receive from doing so, and there are many CEOs who, for obvious reasons, are not only getting in on the action, but swear by the practice.
Why People Meditate
There was an article recently written on this topic, and the author produced a top-100 list of beneficial reasons for meditating. Here, however, we’ll just take a look at the top 10 most people name as their motivation:
- Alleviates stress by providing a more intense feeling of relaxation
- Controls or eliminates pain—both physical and mental/emotional
- Reduces anxiety by: “activating the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which are areas of the brain involved with executive-level function”
- Enhances one’s ability to see things or challenges in new and different ways that may not otherwise be possible
- Improves mood and behavior by increasing the amount of serotonin in the body
- Encourages weigh loss—with improved blood flow, energy, happiness, and control, weight loss ability is also improved
- Heightens immunity by improving the functionality of the endocrine system
- Increases self-esteem levels, which is understandable given an improvement in health, mood, inner peace, stress levels, and more
- Improves relationships—when you’re happier, people notice and want to be around you
- Creates a better quality of life
Who Does It
For these reasons and many others, CEOs from every industry and every background are vouching for the effectiveness of meditation. It is so popular in fact, a recent article on the topic was aptly titled “This is the New Favorite Pastime of the Business Elite (Hint: it’s not Golf).” In it, Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, is quoted as saying the following of former Apple CEO and avid believer in the power of meditation, Steve Jobs: “He needed to look at world from inside out… His message was to look inside yourself and realize yourself.”
Benioff himself agrees with Jobs’ approach and has practiced meditation for more than a couple of decades. Other well-known partakers include Mark Bertolini, Aetna CEO; Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO; John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO; Nancy Slomowitz, Executive Management Associates CEO; Ariana Huffington, President of the Huffington Post Media Group and Soledad O’Brien, CNN anchor and Starfish Media CEO, just to name a few.
Making it Applicable
To leverage the benefits of meditation, you don’t have to be super flexible or athletic. You also don’t need a lot of time. In fact, you can experience all its benefits with just a few dedicated minutes every day. It begins with learning how to breathe, and here are some great resources to get you started:
One of the best books on the subject that includes a link to download eight guided exercises: Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
A terrific book by the Google engineer, Chade-Ming Tan, who introduced mindfulness to Google’s executives and employees: Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (And World Peace)
A guided 9-minute meditation exercise by yours truly to give you a sample of what we mean: Click here to access the mindfulness meditation exercise on my website