“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
For a long time, I had considered starting a meditation practice. I researched its benefits, I learned how to get started, but it took years for me to finally commit to a daily practice. Like many, my excuse was often that I was too busy to carve out time in my day to do nothing. The truth is, I was a very busy person! As the president and co-founder of my company, imageOne, I’m pretty much always busy. But now that I have a daily practice, that old Zen saying finally resonates. If I’m too busy to take 20 minutes a day to rejuvenate my mind and body, something’s not right.
Before developing my practice, being busy often equated to being anxious. The demands of leadership and running a company are intense, and while I love what I do, I had accepted that I would have to operate at a high level of stress to achieve success. Finally, I reached a breaking point and gave meditation a try. Nearly a decade later, my reaction to “being busy” has changed entirely. Now, with a daily meditation practice in place (and I take two silent retreats a year!), I’m a stronger, calmer, and more effective leader than ever before.
Am I any less busy than I was before I started meditating? No! If anything, as my business grows, I’ve become busier. But I’ve trained my brain to react differently to stress, conflict, and other difficult situations. As a result, my productivity and efficiency have improved drastically. It’s not just my experience — science has proven the benefits meditation has on the brain.
Mindfulness meditation helps me manage my stress and anxiety, be a more productive leader, and a better person to everyone in my life. If you’re too busy to meditate, here’s the case for why now is the perfect time to start.
Life is full of stress. Every morning we wake up to an expanding to-do list, and when you check off one task, another quickly appears to take its place. Likewise, we live in a world designed to distract. Technology, social media, and our fast-paced culture clamor to win our attention by taking priority over our goals for the day.
The positive impacts of meditation extend beyond the minutes you spend on any given day sitting in silence, focusing on your breath. Meditation increases your ability to focus on the task at hand, whether it is a problem at work or a conversation with a loved one, in a meaningful way. In fact, a study conducted by the Information School of Washington found that meditation training increases the ability to concentrate on a task and improves memory. Study participants also reported lower levels of stress and less distractions.
We’re socialized to view any given task in the context of our lives: what does this say about my past and how will it affect my future? As a result, your mind diverts its power to worrying about anything but the present moment. When we train our attention to focus on what’s happening right now, we’re more productive, efficient, and effective.
Across disciplines, a regular meditation practice has helped high-achieving individuals reach pique performance. Recent studies have proven that the discipline helps to decrease stress, increase your ability to multitask, and boosts creativity and innovation.
Tim Ferriss, best-selling author and host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, interviewed hundreds of top performers in every arena of life and uncovered a common thread that unites them all: meditation. From Olympic athletes to scientists to venture capitalists, the majority of the highly-successful individuals that he interviewed practiced meditation.
In my own life, I’ve found that with a clear mind I’m better able to unravel team member challenges, creatively resolve problems with clients, and tap into new ideas that take our company to the next level.
Whether I realized it or not, many of the decisions I’ve made in business have been based on a deep-rooted fear. It could be a fear of failing or of being outside of my comfort zone. During a retreat and with a regular practice, I’ve come to realize that nothing matters but this moment.
A regular meditation practice helps to build the muscle in your brain that regulates emotions. By nature, leaders have to take a lot of risks to become successful, and the fear of failure often holds us back. With a regular meditation practice, you’ll learn to become more comfortable with vulnerability, helping you to finally take that next big step for your business.
Whether it’s implementing open finances, launching that great product idea, or having an honest conversation with a client, meditation changes the brain to prepare you for your next big move.
So, are you still too busy? If you answered yes, I challenge you take five minutes and try meditating. It might just be the most rewarding decision you’ll ever make.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com