For many looking in from the outside, entrepreneurs appear to have it all. They are in control of their own destiny, have respect, vision, and in some cases, a lifestyle that most people can only dream of.
From the inside looking out, the picture can be rather different. Entrepreneurs have chosen a life path that is often stressful and involves working long days and nights seven days a week. There are deadlines to meet, staff to get paid, problems coming from all sides. Banks. Backers. Red tape. It keeps piling up.
Then read on to find how a simple thing like meditation can relieve stress levels, refocus your mind, reduce anxiety and blood pressure, help sleep patterns, improve memory, help with depression and improve physical health, to name just a few benefits. For an outlay of 15 minutes, that’s not a bad return!
How Does Meditation Work?
For some people, the idea of meditation is simply dismissed as just another wacky alternative medicine with no proven benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The benefits of meditation have masses of scientific proof to back them up. Among these studies are two recent ones from Harvard University. The Harvard studies concluded that people who meditate regularly have an increased amount of gray matter in the sensory and insular regions of the brain.
Studies using MRI imaging have also shown a complete change across all the brains departments. This causes a relaxation response across the entire body. In my view, kudos goes to the people who managed to meditate in an MRI machine!
We could spend a whole article just covering the workings and benefits of meditation, but as far as entrepreneurs go there is one benefit that most, if not all, will benefit from: the amazing effect it has on reducing stress.
Recent research has shown that the hormone most strongly associated with stress, serum cortisol, is reduced by 56% after just two weeks of regular meditation. Once again MRI scans have revealed that changes in brain behavior is at the root of this reduction.
If you need any more persuading, just have a quick hunt on the internet; it is hard to find any negativity about meditation anywhere.
Entrepreneurs who Meditate
Entrepreneurs by nature are open-minded people, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of them already use meditation as part of their daily routine. Here are some of the entrepreneurs who meditate regularly and swear by its benefits.
Venture Capitalist and former CEO of Monsanto Bob Shapiro has practiced meditation since his student days in Harvard. He says it helps him maintain focused and level-headed.
In an interview with Bloomberg News he is quoted as saying, “As a businessperson, I noticed a number of people I knew well had really picked up on it. Many had approached it with a level of skepticism but now found it useful.”
The billionaire at the head of the online SaaS platform Salesforce, is another strong advocate of the benefits of meditation. He says he began to meditate early in his career when he was employed by Oracle. It is a practice he continued when he set up his own business.
Since becoming CEO of LinkedIn in 2009, Jeff has frequently advocated for the use of meditation. Jeff uses an app called Headspace for his daily meditation and often recommends it to friends, employees, and business associates.
The executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company sets apart some time each day for meditation. He attributes this practice with helping him through some tough times when Ford was close to bankruptcy. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, he was quoted as saying, “The practice of mindfulness kept me going during the darkest days.”
The cofounder of the Huffington Post sets aside some time each morning to practice meditation. She told High Existence, “Once I’m awake I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful and set my intention for the day. Then I do 20 to 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes on my stationary bike on days when I’m home. I also practice Yoga most mornings.”
When asked in the same article what she wished she had known when she was growing up, Arianna replied, “I wish I’d appreciated just how powerful it can be to introduce just 5 minutes of meditation to your day.”
The Hedge Fund billionaire is perhaps one of the most vocal supporters of meditation. Indeed, he has posted on Facebook that “Transcendental Meditation has been the single most important reason for whatever success I’ve had.”
And what success: he is the founder, co-chairman and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. High praise indeed!
How to Meditate
There is no doubt at all that meditation can help improve the quality of your life; not just with business life or stress, but with your home life and overall health too! With such a list of benefits and virtually no downsides, it really is a no-brainer to give meditation a try. There is nothing to lose!
An article of this scope can do no more than give you a few guidelines about how to get started with meditating. As you can imagine there are many resources online, but here is a brief rundown on a couple of methods.
As simple as it sounds, concentrate your mind on one single point. This could be a physical point that you stare at, or it could be the ticking of a clock, or the repeating of a mantra. Like with any skill, you may only be able to do this for a few minutes at first, but as you practice you will find that you are quickly able to gain and retain focus. This is a great method for reducing stress and improving concentration.
In this method, you are encouraged to shut out inner thoughts not by focusing on a single point, but by observing random thoughts as they cross your mind. This is more involved than the Concentration method and involves building a long-term picture of how you interact with the world.
There is absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain in introducing regular meditation into your daily routine. Many skeptics have been swayed after trying it for only a few days.
Science has proven it; industry leaders swear by it. What are you waiting for? There is no time like the present.
What are your thoughts on meditation? Let us know in the comments!
This article originally published on GREY Journal.