From the moment you wake up, you’re bombarded with distractions. Emails fill your inbox, requests pile up, and notifications alert you on your phone. Within moments your attention is scattered.
As our lives have become filled with technology, the distractions we face increase exponentially. With it, our ability to focus has diminished, but our need to think clearly in order to make complex decisions has not. More than ever leaders need to train themselves to be fully present.
Mindfulness meditation can help.
Incorporating meditation into your life can help reduce stress, improve decision-making, enhance creativity and increase emotional resilience.
Now it’s more convenient than ever to learn how to meditate on your own as meditation gains in popularity with apps such as Sattva, Buddhify, Calm, Headspace, and the Mindfulness App, to help those discovering the benefits from this ancient old practice. Its benefits have also caught the eye of the business world, as companies like Google, Ford Motor Company, McKesson and American Express are offering senior executives training in meditation programs to enhance leadership skills. Cloud computing giant, Salesforce created “mindfulness zones,” or quiet areas, on every floor of its new building in San Francisco.
According to a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 75% of Americans believe that workers today have more on-the-job stress than people did a generation ago. Constant stress increases the risk of mental and health ailments ranging from mood and sleep disorders to cardiovascular disease to musculoskeletal problems to having negative impact on your relationships and productivity. Not to mention the estimated $300 billion each year it costs U.S. businesses due to absenteeism, turnover, disabilities, and reduced productivity.
Pause and take a breath.
Mindfulness meditation at its origin is a style of meditation that involves paying attention to sensations, feelings, and thoughts in a non-judgmental way. Research shows that 15 minutes of mindfulness-based meditation results in more rational thinking when making business decisions. Leaders who focus on mindfulness at work tend to have happier employees and improved morale, according to the results found in this study.
Mind training, of which meditation is one form, can change the composition of your mind. Research by Wisconsin’s Richard Davidson demonstrated direct correlation between mindfulness and changes in the brain – away from anger and anxiety and toward a sense of calm and well-being. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center found meditation can improve executive functions (sustaining attention, diminishing distractibility) better than medication in many cases.
It’s a life skill tool that is backed by science. Start with just 5 minutes a day and gradually add more time as you feel comfortable. Pick a certain place and time of the day and commit to it. Like learning how to ride a bike, the more you practice, the easier and more enjoyable it will be.
Maintaining the discipline of practice isn’t easy. But as you do you’ll worry less and focus on what’s most important. As you become more mindful, you will be a more effective, successful and fulfilled leader.