As I look through the calendars of my clients, I see a day back to back with meetings, and not a break in sight… not even for lunch and often not even time to go to the bathroom. And we are not much better in our ‘downtime’ – checking phones for emails, worrying about work, looking after our families, keeping up with friends. Busy has almost become part of who we are.
Stress affects all aspects of our performance
Put simply if we want sustained high performance this is not the way to go about it. We know that stress reduces our IQ by 10-15 points and tiredness affects all aspects of our performance, including creativity and problem solving by up to 50%.
What we need to do is pause, reflect and consider every day, what are we doing for ourselves to recharge our batteries.
One of the things I really look forward to doing every morning, on the train on the way to work is meditate for about 10 minutes. It calms me and refreshes me at the same time, allowing me to be totally prepared for the day ahead.
For many people however Meditation is still a bit mysterious and slightly woolly. So what I’d like to do is first touch upon some of the many benefits and secondly share with you one of the nice and easy meditations that I use every day.
Why Meditation is so good for you
Research by Professor Richard Davidson from the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience in Madison Wisconsin, shows that through meditation brain activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) shifts from the right hemisphere to the left.
People who are more right PFC oriented tend to have a negative disposition (including anger, stress and de-motivation), whereas people who are more left are more enthusiastic, relaxed and happy. In terms of performance the left brain correlates with enhanced perception, positivity and problem solving.
Research also shows that meditation affects our brain chemistry in so many ways resulting in us feeling on top form and in great shape.
For example it:
- reduces the stress chemical; Cortisol,
- increases the happy neurotransmitter; Serotonin,
- increases the sleep chemical; Melatonin,
- increases the calm chemical; GABA (gamma amino butyric acid),
- increases the ‘focus and concentration’ chemical; Dopamine,
- boosts endorphins giving us a natural high and it even increases our levels of hormone DHEA, often called the Longevity Molecule. This hormone as we get older, starts to decrease which speeds up our aging and leaves us open to disease.
Meditation doesn’t have to take long to benefit you
I’m really hoping you are convinced and if you are, I’d love you to try this meditation with me. It doesn’t have to take too long, but ideally it does need to be incorporated into your daily life. For me, that’s on the train into work every morning.
A recipe for simple meditation
Try this simple meditation and start feeling the benefits.
It really is as simple as observing your breathing and if we count whilst we breathe this helps us to really focus the mind on the breath. You don’t even have to close your eyes; in fact it’s a good idea to softly focus on a spot in front of you.
Let me guide you:
So to get started sit comfortably, take nice calm deep breaths and watch and follow your breathing. Allow your breathing to be relaxed and at a steady pace. Now let’s count.
As you inhale count 1 and as you exhale count 2….
As you inhale count 3 and as you exhale count 4…
As you inhale count 5 and as you exhale its 6….
As you inhale count 7 and as you exhale its 8….
As you inhale count 9 and as you exhale its 10….
When you reach 10 you can start all over again breathing in and counting 1 and breathing out and counting 2. Carry on breathing and counting for at least 5 minutes.
As you continue to breathe and count, any time your mind starts to wonder and your attention starts to drift off, simply bring your focus back to your breathing and counting. It doesn’t matter how many times you catch your mind wandering, just bring it back to the breath, counting on each inhale and each exhale.
If you lose count, simply go back and start at 1, continuing to count with each breath.
And that’s it… simple!
Finally if you find your mind wanders off all the time, I would see this as a positive thing, as it shows that this is a really important skill for you to practice and master. And you will master it in time.
Build meditation into your daily life
So think about when you can build this pause into your daily life and enjoy the many benefits that meditation brings. Even if you have just a few minutes to spare, maybe waiting for a friend or a meeting to start, grab this time for yourself and meditate.
If you would like Emma to come in and talk at an event or work with you or your teams please get in touch today.