Why Should a Busy Professional Meditate? (Part I)
Meditation is an interesting topic these days. It seems to get a lot of attention, and yet there are many misconceptions as well. In the end, it appears that busy attorneys and other professionals just don’t see the value in meditation.
I did a survey on topics that you my readers would like me to write about in 2014, and meditation was at the top of the list. Since there is curiosity, I will address first the value and second some of the misconceptions. And finally, a technique.
What is the Value of Meditation for Business Professionals?
There are two classes I teach where I specifically recommend participants engage in a meditation practice. They are communication, specifically in listening; and time management. Why these two topics?
Let’s start with communication and in particular, the Art of Listening. Listening is a skill. It does not necessarily come naturally to us as human beings. It is often not something that we are taught growing up. There are so many things that can potentially get in the way of effective listening. These fall basically in the category of distractions – internal distractions and external distractions. Internally, there are so many thoughts in our minds that it is often tough to stop enough to really listen to what another person is saying. Externally, there are sights and sounds that also cause us to move our attention away from our speaker and onto something else.
I recommend meditation as a listening skill. The reason? Meditation teaches focus. The basic practice of meditation is to focus on one thing – the breath or a sound or a mantra, for example. When you meditate, you learn to focus your mind on one thing. You are building a muscle – the muscle of focus. The more you build the muscle of focus through meditation, the more you can use the muscle of focus elsewhere – as in listening with the use of roids bodybuilding pills. In meditation you keep bringing your mind back to your focal point. In listening, you do the same thing – you keep bringing your mind back to your foal point – the person who is talking.
In time management, the foundation of effective time management is being present with what you are doing. In time management, as in listening, we suffer distractions – both internal and external. Internal distractions are often in the form of other things we think we should be doing that fragments our attention from what we are doing. External distractions are those projects we “try” to do at the same time; i.e., multi-tasking. If you work on one thing at a time and if you are able to think about just that one thing while you are doing it, you will be vastly more effective and will get things done better and faster. But again, you have to learn to limit distractions and to focus on what you are doing. Enter meditation. As above in our conversation about listening, when you engage in regular meditation, you build the muscle of focus. In meditation you focus on your breath. In time management practices, you focus on the one thing you are doing. Through meditation, you have built the muscle of focus that allows you to do so.
Better communication, better management of your time, and greater focus overall are only a couple benefits of meditation.
Physiological Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has been found to have the following physiological health benefits:
• Meditation decreases the metabolic rate and lowers the heart rate, thus indicating a state of deep rest and regeneration.
• Meditation reduces stress, as indicated by lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.
• Meditation reduces high blood pressure.
• Meditation has been found to help asthma patients, making breathing easier for them.
Psychological Benefits of Meditation
On the psychological level, studies have shown the following benefits:
• Meditation increases the coherence of brain wave patterns, which suggests it improves creativity and learning and actually changes the way the brain works.
• Meditation helps to decrease anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness.
• Meditation improves memory.
• Meditation increases the subjective feelings of happiness and contentment.
• Meditation increases emotional stability.
Next week, I will blog on common misconceptions about meditation and teach you a meditation practice. Until then….breathe.