Why is meditation essential to brainstorming innovative ideas? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
When a child does something wrong, most parents ground them or put them in time-out.
When I was a kid, my parents made me write essays about what I did wrong. It forced me to contemplate what I'd done, the rules I'd broken, and how I could avoid getting in trouble again.
It was a different approach--one that was influenced by my dad's Buddhism and his beliefs about meditation. He spent time traveling in Nepal, and when he came back, he applied what he had learned to his business and life.
As a kid, I thought it was fun to meditate in the spare bedroom he had converted to a meditation room. It was full of prayer rugs and crystals, and it always smelled like incense.
But as I got older and began to develop my own sense of self and independence, I began to really understand the benefits of meditation. I faced quite a few challenges running my first company. I knew that meditation was something I could rely on. Not just in my personal life, but also in the business world.
Whether professional or personal, here's how meditation makes for better brainstorming:
1. Takes Your Ego Out Of The Equation.
I don't mean "ego" in the way that we often use it--a way to describe someone's level of pride or arrogance. I mean it in a more natural way, as in the construction of your identity that influences how you interact with people.
When you meditate, it helps you understand "ego death." This is basically the ability to put your ego aside in order to better focus on the people around you. You'd be surprised at how much this can improve your interactions and thought processes in the business world.
Take sales, for instance. To be a good salesperson, you have to put your motivations aside. You can't think about what your goals are, but instead must think about what the customer's motivations and goals are. Those motivations are what you're trying to sell to, right?
It's the same when you meet an investor and want them to fund your business. You need to understand their motivations if you plan to convince them to give you money.
2. Teaches Active Listening
Have you ever been in a conversation and felt like the other person wasn't really listening to you? Probably so. It felt like they were talking at you, not absorbing and using what you were saying to them.
Without active listening, the conversation doesn't flow. It doesn't follow a pattern. Nothing is really being accomplished and no new ideas are discovered. That's what happens when one or more people in a conversation are not practicing active listening.
Active listening is crucial to having meaningful conversations and building strong relationships. It makes you focus on what the other person is saying, shut down the running commentary in your mind, and actually contemplate what they're telling you.
And mediation is a great way to exercise that muscle in your mind. It helps you set yourself aside and quiet the inner voice while having a conversation.
I've been in office meetings where, before we'd get into any meaningful discussion, everyone meditated for five to ten minutes. After, we'd engage from that point. This keeps your mind from wandering and primes you to focus on what other people are saying. It's a really useful activity when you need to brainstorm and investigate a particular topic.
3. Increases Your Receptivity To New Ideas
Brainstorming is all about looking for new ideas, examining old ideas in new ways, and diving deep into the layers of a given subject. Meditation helps put you into a receiving state, a state where you're open to new thoughts and perspectives.
In the business world, unfortunately, things are very focused around "doing." We have to do this or that. We have to get something done right away. But mediation allows you to turn that on its head. You do something by not doing anything. I'll give you an example.
I like to sit and meditate, but I also like to get outside and walk. I'll pace around the block just to get myself in motion, because that's when I'm the most meditative and alive. Things just start coming together. And that's because I'm quieting some of the chatter in my mind.
I'm not focused on doing anything; I'm just walking. That opens up space in my mind for the reception of new ideas. I'm able to quiet my mind, make connections, perceive things that aren't as obvious.
I believe it's a mistake for anyone to dismiss meditation as "not for me." You don't have to be particularly spiritual to experience the benefits of quieting your mind and focusing on new ideas. Give it a try and see if you notice a difference in the quality of ideas you generate.
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