If you haven't incorporated meditation into your routine yet, you're not alone. Maybe you've always heard about it but aren't sure where to start. Maybe you've tried it out but felt like you weren't getting a lot out of it. No matter what your experience, it's time to take another look at this life-changing practice.
Need a reason to give it a go? Well, if you don't at least try then you're passing up a science-based habit that will set you up for success. It's also proven that our brains can do amazing things. So if you're looking to capitalize on your brainpower and, say, get more sleep, meditation is an excellent place to start.
For more information about why you should meditate and what's going on if it's not working, check out my interview with André Elkind. He's the CEO and founder of Mantri, a conscious leadership and stress management consultancy serving individuals and businesses.
How can meditation change your life?
Meditation will change your life if you practice it regularly (at least once a day). Meditation makes the different parts of your brain act more in sync with one another. Before you meditate, your brain is like an orchestra rehearsing -- one instrument is doing one thing and the other something totally unrelated. Once you start meditating regularly your brain becomes like an orchestra under the guidance of a conductor, and all different parts of your brain act in a coherent manner. This makes you see things more clearly, and you make better decisions as a consequence. So that alone changes your life, not to mention many other benefits like sleeping well and having less anxiety.
If someone wants to get started meditating tomorrow, what are the key essential steps?
They should look for a meditation teacher or coach with experience and a proven technique and go through the course. I recommend Transcendental Meditation first but also Deepak Chopra's technique, Art of Living, Vipassana, and mindfulness. I do not recommend learning meditation from a book. Meditation books are good to help you along the way once you have learned a good technique.
If someone is meditating and they're not experiencing any benefits, what might they be doing wrong?
They are either not practicing the technique correctly or are not practicing regularly (once or twice a day), and what they are doing wrong can vary from technique to technique. The other possibility is that they did not learn an effective technique. One should be careful not to just pick up any meditation technique they see online or in a book. So if someone learned a proven technique from an experienced teacher, they are probably not practicing the technique correctly and should go back to the teacher for a review session.
What are the changes that you've seen in your clients who have incorporated meditation into their lives?
The very first thing we see is better sleep and less stress and anxiety. These two changes come quickly, in a matter of a few days or weeks of regular practice. I had one executive who had not slept more than four hours per night for five years. He was taking prescription drugs to battle the symptoms. After the second day of practice, he slept for five hours. After the third day, six hours. After the first week, he slept for seven hours straight! He became less stressed and anxious. His energy levels increased. He became more patient with his direct reports. Soon after, his management team learned to meditate. He says we saved his life. I reminded him that he was the one who practiced it daily; my team just handed him the tool. This is very important: We make the change by practicing.
How can meditation benefit your professional life?
You become calmer and more alert when you meditate. Once these changes happen, you start to waste less time with unproductive discussions, tasks, and projects. You get into fewer arguments. You deal better with your team and peers. You focus better on your goals. As you become more present you become less distracted, enabling you to find creative solutions to your work-related challenges.