When I do these leadership programs, the participants always ask me, what’s the one thing that I could do that would make the biggest difference? I understand the question. We are all busy. We can’t do dozens of things. We can’t commit to an hour in the gym, seven days a week. We can’t go on a sabbatical for a month. So what is that one thing that can make a huge difference? It’s meditation. We strongly emphasize this in our courses. In order to create well-being, in order to be productive, in order to tap into that higher power, we must have reflection time each day. It doesn’t have to be long. It can be as little as 10 minutes. But it has to be consistent. I probably average four to five days a week where I sit down and be quiet and not do any planning or worrying or problem solving. Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, says that anyone who is trying to attain personal mastery should practice some form of meditation.
Studies have shown that meditation increases focus and changes physiology. It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases DHEA, the “youth” hormone. It relaxes you. It increases problem solving. It increases your energy levels. Harvard Medical recently found that regular meditation actually changes the expression of genes and lengthens the telomeres. Shortened telomeres indicate aging. So it actually reverses the aging process. So if it does all of these amazing thins, why doesn’t everyone do it? For some it seems too “new age”. For some, it seems cult like. They think that it conflicts with their religious beliefs. But think of it as just an exercise in concentration. You can apply your own belief system to these techniques so that you are comfortable with it.
Here is a very simple meditation technique:
Take a deep breath in. Breathe out and think the number one. Breathe in again. Breathe out again. Think the number two. Breathe in again. Breathe out. Think the number three. Breathe in a fourth time. Breathe out and think the number four. Then start again at one. Other thoughts will enter your mind. Politely dismiss them and go back to breathing and counting. Do this for around 5 to 10 minutes. Set a timer if you need to.
You will no doubt find this hard at first. But the more you do it, the more you will be able to focus. Not only during the meditation, but in all areas of your life and work. You will be more relaxed, more resilient to stress, and you will have more energy at the end of the day.