Meditation: Finding Strength in the Solitude

Have you ever felt that the world is just, well, too much at times?

Especially now. With the world reeling from a global pandemic, it seems anxiety and stress are combining to produce a vortex of fear – which is completely understandable. Many of us are contemplating some deep concepts – meaning, purpose, the “why” behind what’s happening…

It’s affected all of us. And I’ll admit that there are times I have to mindfully check my thoughts, take a long, deep breath and dwell in the silence.

It’s through the silence – our meditation in solitude – that we regain our strength. We step away from the chaotic appearances and step into the peace of silence, doing nothing, just being.

Everyone can benefit from meditation. My friend and former colleague,  Matthias Birk wrote in a Harvard Business Review article that meditation can be an extraordinary help to us during these chaotic times. He quotes what Steve Jobs related on his meditations:

“You start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”

Meditation is a Valuable Tool for Leaders

Birk also cited the values of mediation for executives. Jim Collins, a leadership expert, concluded from his studies that it was “the presence of a gargantuan ego that contributed to the demise or continued mediocrity of the company.”

Ego. It’s a person’s sense of self-importance or self-esteem. Ego always feels threatened, that’s why we react automatically without thinking – it’s ego boldly shouting out “it’s’ my way or the highway.” Ego’s focus is always on “me” – never “we.”

I know we’ve all encountered egos in the business world – and some pretty immense ones. But we also have to look at ourselves, too. Could our own egos be thwarting our potential for advancement – and our ability to create a meaningful, lasting impact? Meditation can help us separate from the egoic “me” and expand our consciousness into a more collective “we.”

In his book, Principles: Life and Work, Ray Dalio, who founded the world’s biggest hedge fund, wrote about the ‘ego barrier.’ He defines it as a defense mechanism in us that we’re not consciously aware of, one that makes it hard for us to accept our mistakes and weaknesses.

And all his successes, Dalio admits, are because he practices mediation. Does that sound surprising? It might for those unfamiliar with the countless benefits meditation offers.

Dalio is living proof of the goldmine of meditation. Science has proven its value, too: Harvard neuroscience studies show that meditation has huge benefits for leaders – amongst many other positives, it allows us to see things more objectively and form deeper, meaningful relationships.

The Value of Meditation in the Business World

How can meditation help us form more meaningful professional relationships? Mike Romoff can tell you. As head of global agency sales at LinkedIn, he had a gradual awakening through meditation that everyone is connected – and viewing others as independent entities didn’t make sense anymore.

His own work proved his point: with his department brewing in rivalry with another one, Romoff chose to help his counterpart – instead of continuing the tension. The result? Instead of a heated deadlock, projects flowed forward, disagreements diffused, and a stalemate was transformed into great progress.

Many of us may believe that meditation just isn’t for us. Maybe you can relate – perhaps you’ve tried in the past and gave it up.

For health and for our careers, I believe it’s vital we dedicate ourselves to a regular practice of meditation. It’s been proven to lower cholesterol and even the risk of heart disease, help relieve stress, depression, and has plenty of other positive effects.

Given our rapidly changing world and the tumultuous events that have cultivated deep uncertainty and profound fear, meditation is more important now than ever before.

A Few Minutes of Meditation Can Transform the Entire Day

Consider starting the day doing something other than checking email and listening to news. That draws us immediately in to reaction, i.e. fear, anxiety, anger, the endless cycle of “what if’s”…

While lying in bed before getting up for the morning, take a few minutes to just breathe. Concentrate on the breath…the peaceful, regular breathing. Feel the energy in the hands, in the feet, in the entire body temple. Many of us may have never noticed the energy contained within our own bodies.

Or sit in a chair and practice meditation, either concentrating on the breath or repeating a simple soothing or positive mantra. Soon, we realize that we are becoming more aware – of ourselves.

Regarding today’s pandemic, Eckhart Tolle has suggested that what looks “bad” on the surface has an essential function. Meditation can be the first step that will allow us to dive deep within, to see things differently, to ultimately do things in a new way – finally giving the rebel in all of us a chance to lead.

“When the ego weeps for what it has lost, the spirit rejoices for what it has found.”

-Eckhart Tolle

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