Mental Health Monday: Slow Down to Speed Up

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Mental Health Monday: Slow Down to Speed Up

This is a tough topic to narrow down into one entry, but for today’s Mental Health Monday we are going to delve into the buzz around meditation. Specifically, why meditation is no longer reserved for yogis and therapists.  No it’s for you entrepreneurs, business professionals, real estate agents, and all hard-working individuals seeking to maximize potential.

This quick 3 minute video offers a funny (but true) introduction to the world of meditation along with a chance to see who’s using it.

 

This topic is timely for many reasons—one of which being that just today Philly.com featured a piece about a local business leader who emphasizes mediation and self-awareness and highlighted the benefits to her business and employees.  We know now that meditation is a widely-used practice not only to effectively treat anxiety and depression, but also for competitive professional athletes looking to gain an edge, soldiers in combat, students in demanding academic settings, and hopefully maybe we can make a believer out of YOU so that you too can excel (without sacrificing your friends, family, and peace of mind to do so).

Let’s shoot straight– in business return on investment is often the name of the game.  Namely, to maximize efficiency and minimize waste so the idea (myth) of sitting around “wasting time” can be anxiety provoking for some entrepreneurs. As we sit in silence trying to meditate we literally begin to hear dollar bills flying out the window and now instead of picturing ourselves on a beach with waves crashing in we see our electricity being turned off and the concerned faces of our employees and their families flash across our radar.

However, research can help turn that myth on it’s heels.  This is far from wasted time. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review Emm Seppala takes this on in her piece How Meditation Benefits CEOsShe looks at key outcomes such as improvement of attention, memory and emotional intelligence for business execs who regularly practice meditation.

Here’s the 6 benefits she identifies: (Full Article)

  1. Meditation builds resilience. Multiple research studies have shown that meditation has the potential to decrease anxiety, thereby potentially boosting resilience and performance under stress. 
  2. Meditation boosts emotional intelligence. Brain-imaging researchsuggests that meditation can help strengthen your ability to regulate your emotions…it is critical that leaders be able to manage their anger, and put themselves in others’ shoes. 
  3. Meditation enhances creativity. Research on creativity suggests that we come up with our greatest insights and biggest breakthroughs when we are in a more meditative and relaxed state of mind. 
  4. Meditation improves your relationships. While stress narrows your perspectiveand that of your team, and reduces empathy, negatively impacting performance, meditation can help boost your mood and increase your sense of connection to others, even make you a kinder and more compassionate person.
  5. Meditation improves your relationships. While stress narrows your perspectiveand that of your team, and reduces empathy, negatively impacting performance, meditation can help boost your mood and increase your sense of connection to others, even make you a kinder and more compassionate person.
  6. Meditation helps you focus. Research has shown that our minds have a tendency to wander about 50% of the time. Add in work interruptions, text messages, IMs, phone calls, and emails, and it’s no surprise that employees have a hard time staying focused. But studies show that meditation training can help curb our tendency for distraction, strengthening our ability to stay focused and even boosting memory.

We know that those 6 benefits (while all essential to success) are not where the benefit train stops for meditation, it’s also about containing reaction and cultivating awareness.  This improves one’s ability to tolerate distress without reacting negatively. How Meditation Can Transform Your Business featured in Entrepreneur outlines that, “By not immediately reacting to feelings of pain and pleasure, we not only toughen our minds and boost our sense of inner peace, we also broaden our perspective and capability to understand things a stressed out, self-absorbed mind would miss.”

We can appreciate that some people need the science, so good news meditation is evidenced based and plenty of data exists to satiate the skeptic.  Emma M. Seppala breaks it down in her article 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today (go to the article and each benefit is linked to actual research!) If you can’t get to the research we will give you a glimpse of her reasons:

 

It Boosts Your HEALTH

Increases immune function,

Decreases Pain

Decreases Inflammation at the Cellular Level

It Boosts Your HAPPINESS

Increases Positive Emotion

Decreases Depression

Decreases Anxiety

Decreases Stress 

It Boosts Your SOCIAL LIFE

Think meditation is a solitary activity? It may be (unless you meditate in a group which many do!) but it actually increases your sense of connection to others:

Increases social connection & emotional intelligence 

Makes you more compassionate

Makes you feel less lonely

It Boosts Your Self-Control

Improves your ability to regulate your emotions

Improves your ability to introspect

It Changes Your BRAIN (for the better)

Increases grey matter

Increases volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive emotions & self-control

Increases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention

 It Improves Your Productivity (yup, by doing nothing)

Increases your focus & attention

Improves your ability to multitask

Improves your memory 

Improves your ability to be creative & think outside the box

It Makes You WISE(R)

But please, don’t take our word for it give it a try yourself.

Included below are two brief mediations for you to try today.  Find a quiet space at home or at work or put your earbuds in and do it right in the middle of Reading Terminal and experience the transcendent power of meditation that can benefit not only your personal wellbeing but can extend and maximize your professional potential.

 

 

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