What is mindfulness meditation? Quite simply, practicing mindfulness is training your mind to focus your attention on the present. Mindfulness meditation has overcome misconceptions of being religious, quirky, or New Age. While it does have roots in Buddhism meditation, it provides anyone and everyone a way to disconnect and clear the mind.
Why People Meditate
There are many reasons why people include mindfulness in their daily rituals and many benefits they receive from doing so. Some scientifically-proven benefits for individuals include:
- Decrease in anxiety, stress, and negative emotions
- Heightened immune system by improving the functionality of the endocrine system
- Enhances one’s ability to see things or challenges in new and different ways
- Improves mood and behavior by increasing the amount of serotonin in the body
- Encourages weight loss with improved blood flow, energy, and mindful eating
- Improves self-esteem levels and body image
- Enhances relationships by making one feel more optimistic, relaxed, and satisfied
- Develop mental immunity
And finally, mindfulness is good for the workplace. It can help leaders feel more confident, improve creativity, reduce multitasking, and boost client satisfaction.
Who Does It
It’s clear that mindfulness meditation has benefits for individuals. But it’s growing in popularity among CEOs from every industry and every background. Some practice mindfulness to boost productivity, like LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner or chairman of Ford Motor Company, Bill Ford. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has credited meditation for helping him relieve stress. It also allows him to listen closely and deeply before making any decisions.
Other notable figures who swear by meditation include:
- Founder of Huffington Post Arianna Huffington
- Comedian Jerry Seinfeld
- Founder of Def Jam records Russell Simmons
- Media mogul Oprah Winfrey
- Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda
If you feel you don’t have time for mindful meditation, consider what Arianna Huffington has said on the topic: “I was under the impression that I had to ‘do’ meditation. And I didn’t have time for another burdensome thing to ‘do.’ Fortunately, a friend pointed out one day that we don’t ‘do’ meditation; meditation ‘does’ us. That opened the door for me. The only thing to ‘do’ in meditation is nothing.”
Making it Applicable
To leverage the benefits of meditation, you don’t have to be super flexible or athletic. You also don’t need a lot of time. Remember that just a few minutes a day can help you begin practicing.
Here’s a quick guide on learning to meditate by sitting and focusing on your breathing (allow 10 minutes):
- Find a spot to sit where your legs can cross comfortably, or touch the floor when you’re in a chair.
- Sit up straight, but don’t stiffen your upper body.
- Drop your chin slightly, and let your gaze fall downward. Or you may close your eyes.
- Bring your attention to your breath and the sensations in your body as it moves to breathe. Continue focusing your attention on your breathing.
- Your thoughts will wander, and that’s perfectly normal. Accept when that happens, and gently return your attention back to your breath. You will do this many times during the practice session.
- When you’re ready to stop, open your eyes or lift your gaze. Be aware of how your body feels, what you’re thinking, or how you’re feeling.
- You’ve done it!
With practice you will reap the results. You will build your mental muscles. Or, as the Dalai Lama so aptly stated, “build better mental immunity.”
If you’d like more guidance, there are many websites like Mindful.organd popular apps like Headspace that can help you get started.