Meditation has been used by the Eastern world for years to hack emotional intelligence. Silicon Valley mega companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook find it to be a crucial way to spike creativity and calm the mind. Google has had over 1,000 employees take courses offered in-house on meditation. Now entrepreneurs and high performers all over the world are looking to meditation to get the edge in their career or their industry.
Due to the vast amount of stimulus in the modern world, humans need a way to shut down the chatter upstairs – especially entrepreneurs and executives.
Think about it…
You sit down at your desk….emails are rolling in, the phone is ringing on your desk, a new text just comes through, calendar reminders pop up…OH and don’t forget Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…You get the point.
With all of this stimulus, the brain goes into overdrive and it doesn’t take much to drive us into the sympathetic “flight or flight” response. From here, our focus, creativity, and drive go out the window. Meditation will help get your brain back into a parasympathetic state, allowing for better performance, execution, strategic though, and over-all wellbeing.
Let’s Look at the Research
There is exciting research rolling out every day on the neurological benefits of mediation, confirmed by EEG and MRI. The University of California Los Angeles found that meditation helps preserve the aging brain. People who have meditated for an average of 20 years had more gray matter volume in their brain than those who did not. Florian Kurth, the doctor who performed the study, stated, “…what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”
Yale University studies have found that meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN) in the brain. The DMN is the network in the brain responsible for “monkey mind” or “mind wondering”; when your thoughts aren’t focused and you find your brain floundering from thought-to-thought. Meditation will fast-track you towards more focus.
A John Hopkins’ review of study found that meditation has the ability to reduce depression, anxiety, and pain.
Sara Lazar from Harvard University found that mindful meditation can actually change the structure of the brain. Within just eight weeks of mindful meditation, Lazar and her team of researchers found an increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which is responsible for emotional regulation, learning and memory. There was a decrease in the cell volume in the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. The participants reported an overall increase in mood and wellbeing.
How to do Mindful Meditation
Mindful meditation is how I learned to meditate, and it is a great way to start your day. Instead of reaching for your cell phone, see what happens when you set aside time to quiet your mind. Here’s what I do:
- Find a quiet room or place in nature. Take a seat, sitting up nice and straight. Put away all thoughts of the future and past.
- Become aware of your breathing, as air travels in and out of your body. Feel the air pass through your nose and into your lungs. Feel your belly rise and fall.
- Watch your thoughts pass through; thoughts of fear, anxiety or happiness should not be suppressed or ignored. Acknowledge your thoughts and keep breathing deeply. If you start going down rabbit trails of thought, go back to focusing on your deep breathing.
- After two minutes, start focusing on your surroundings. How do your hands feel? How does the breeze feel?
Begin doing mindful meditation for five minutes each morning, then graduate to 10, 15, even up to 30 minutes, if you have time.
Let me know how mindful meditation has changed your performance, focus, and overall well-being in the comments below.