Take a look at this video from the movie, City Slickers:
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. 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.
Harvard Medical School recently completed a study on mediation. The study published in May in a prestigious medical journal showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress. This means that meditation actually helps prevent autoimmune diseases and inflammation that is linked to many diseases.
As if that weren’t cool enough, regular mediation actually lengthens the telomeres on our genes. These shoelace-like structures shorten with age. So meditation is a bonafide way to reverse the aging process!
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 and more resilient to stress.
I have created a guided meditation CD that takes you through a progressive relaxation followed by visualizations. If you are interested, you can contact my Executive Assistant, Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org. We should have it on the store on brentdarnell.com very soon, but we can find a way to get it to you if you are interested.
You can also check out my book, Stress Management, Time Management, and Life Balance for Tough Guys if you want more information:
Let me know if you want to learn more about meditation and the various techniques.