Search meditation in Google images and you'll get a tirade of people sitting in cross legged postures and pictures of pebbles precariously balanced on top of one another. The idea of meditation commonly conjures images of monks, hippies, bare feet and tie-dye; interestingly though, in modern culture it is becoming more commonly associated with business suits and corporate success.
Its time for the business and corporate world to let go of their stereotypical ideas and begin to embrace meditation practices for what they can deliver. Jeff Weiner, founder of LinkedIn claims meditation as his 'single most important productivity tool', Ray Dalio, one of the worlds most successful hedge fund managers says meditation is his secret to success. Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Ford, Russell Simmons, Evan Williams, Larry Brilliant, Tony Schwartz and more recently Rupert Murdoch, all declare that meditation underpins their success in business and in life.
So, what is it and why should you do it. Meditation is in its simplest form, is taking time out from constant engagement, connectivity, appointments, phone calls, emails and social networking to disconnect. Disconnecting can be many things; it might be a simple 60 second thought exercise, it might be a walk or run in the park, it might be a morning mantra and breathing activity, it might be a lunch-time 30 minute session of Mindful Movement. Meditation can be almost anything, anything that enables you to disconnect, to quieten the mind and embrace relaxation. To turn off from the endless thoughts, to do lists, schedules and responsibilities.
Meditation has been declared a game changer, a productivity tool and essential for maximising success by some of the world's most successful people. Meditation can deliver results. People report increased productivity and creativity, lower stress and anxiety, increased clarity and focus, improved physical health and better decision making abilities.
If the recommendation of the worlds most successful people isn't enough, an increasing amount of research shows that meditation and mindfulness techniques effectively lower stress and anxiety and improve memory and cognitive function. A form of ancient Kundalini meditation is even recommended by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation, the practice decreases stress and increases activity in areas of the brain related to memory.
Some of the biggest and most successful businesses in the world are embracing corporate meditation programs for their teams and leaders. These programs teach people how disconnect so they can achieve more; how to manage their emotions and stressful situations, and better understand the needs of their co-workers.
I can hear what the little voice in your head is saying… Where do I find the time to meditate? It doesn't need to take a huge amounts of your time. To be effective and produce results, it DOES however need to be a regular practice, a new keystone habit in your daily life and you need to make commitment to persistently and patiently develop your skills of consciousness and awareness. Just like physical exercise, if you go to the gym once or twice it's not going to have much of an effect, meditation is the gym for your brain.
If you want to maximise your success, optimise your team or take a step up to the next level in your career then its time to embrace a meditative practice. Forget the idea of hippy fluff and cross legged postures and do what the most successful people and businesses in the world recommend for success - meditation.
When an important situation or event is happening in our lives it can be overwhelming… It might be something that is really super exciting, like the anticipation of a great holiday you’re jetting off on tomorrow or a big day for you, like your wedding or graduation.
Sometimes that overwhelming feeling is filled with anxiety, tension and stress. Maybe you’re waiting to find out if you got that job you really want, passed that exam or maybe its the 2 week wait that Rebecca Hopkins talks about in her 2WW Survival Guide. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to make it through those two weeks where you’re waiting to find out if your IVF round was successful and you’re pregnant!
Being overwhelmed shows up in many forms; excitement, anxiety, sadness, stress, tiredness, depression, even joy. Sometimes I’m so excited by the work I’m doing and the projects and people I’m involved with that I find it difficult to wind down at bedtime, or I’m awake really early and ready for action (not so much a bad thing!).
Whether the sense of being overwhelmed relates to positive or negative emotions, finding a way to disconnect, a way to unpack and release those overwhelming feelings is essential to our personal growth and our sanity. Your self talk can drive you nuts - ‘what if’ this and ‘what if’ that, our minds become like a washing machine whirring constantly and in turn feeding our emotional fires. Finding a way to quieten the incessant flatmate in your head that won’t shut up can be challenging even for the most relaxed of us.
So how can we deal? When we don’t know which way is up, when we are overwhelmed by our work or family commitments, when we’re crazy excited about what tomorrow will bring or we’re enduring a two week wait. How can we regain our equilibrium and a sense of relaxed calmness despite what is happening around us?
Here are my top 3 tips to get you on your way:
1. Embrace a practice
My life has been completely transformed through embracing a practice, by bringing some daily rituals into my life. For me it is practicing Mindful Movement (qigong, tai chi and breathwork) and meditation.
2. Make it a daily ritual
Every morning before breakfast I dedicate some time to these practices, sometimes its a few minutes, sometimes its an hour. I find when I start the day from a relaxed and centred place its easier to deal with the challenges that arise and my practice equips me with go-to during my day if things do get overwhelming. Bringing a ‘practice’ or some ‘rituals’ into your life that help you to maintain or to regain your equilibrium, despite what is going on around you will revolutionise your life. It might be hard at first, to be disciplined, to make the commitment, but it will soon become your saviour.
3. Make it your ‘Go-to’
Having a practice to turn to when you’re feeling overwhelmed is a way to release stress and anxiety and to bring calm and centred energy into your life - instantly. When I get too busy, when worry creeps in or I’m feeling confused I take a mini-break and put my Mindful Movement practice to work. A few minutes later I’m feeling calm, clearer and filled with renewed energy.
The Qigong Show - Whole Living Magazine
Click the image to check out some easy movements
While we advocate embracing something into your daily life, a practice doesn’t have to be daily, it just needs to be a go-to for you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe its going for a run, maybe its journalling, maybe its a minute of deep breathing. Your practice can be anything, all it needs to be is something that calms and relaxes you, and something that is accessible to you at any time, in any place, when you’re feeling shaken and stirred.
If you’re interested in learning a short Mindful Movement routine that you can adopt as your go-to when you’re feeling overwhelmed, join our next introductory workshop on April 27th.
Nicole L Betts
Nicole Betts is an internationally accredited Qigong & Meditation Teacher, Fitness Instructor and Holistic Health Coach.