In these challenging times it’s more important than ever to take care of your mental health. I bet you heard the terms “mindfulness” and “meditation” quite often in the past 12 months. And if you still have never tried this practice; now is the best time to start. Meditation is not only great for your well-being but will also help your career. Here are some good reasons why you should make it a daily habit to meditate.
1. meditation improves your focus
We live in a world full of distractions – especially in the workplace it can be challenging to navigate through tons of emails, tasks and meetings. If you struggle with focusing on one thing at a time, just take 10 minutes out of your day to meditate. It is scientifically proven that meditation helps you to improve your focus and increase your attention span.
"If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes things worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things — that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. - Steve Jobs
2. meditation makes you more confident
The biggest enemy of a successful career is negative self-talk. Thoughts like “I am not good enough”or “I will fail” can damage your self confidence and motivation. But don’t worry – through meditation you can learn to observe your own thoughts without getting anxious. Often we don’t even realize that we have these kinds of thought patterns that weigh us down. But when you learn to objectively observe your negative thoughts without judging them, you will be much more confident and less emotionally drained.
3. meditation reduces stress
Various studies have shown that meditation reduces the stress hormone cortisol and helps you to sleep better. Through meditation, you learn to be less reactive to difficulties and unplanned happenings which makes your stress levels go down. Big companies like Google, Facebook, and SAP already offer their employees specific meditation rooms and mindfulness workshops. So if you are looking for an easy way to relieve stress and be more calm at work, meditation might be a good solution for you.
4. meditation increases your creativity
Not only does meditation help by reducing, but it also increase your creativity. A study conducted by UCLA shows that meditation improves the connection between the analytical and the creative side of your brain. Many successful people like Oprah Winfrey or Steve Jobs even mentioned that they often receive sudden inspiration during a meditation session. What happens during meditation is that your mind is less distracted by outer circumstances and you focus more on your inner voice. This helps you to tap into your intuition and unleash your creative side.
5. meditation makes you happier
The last reason, why meditation is good for you, might also be the best: it makes you much happier and more compassionate. This is due to the fact that meditation helps you to conduct self-reflection and see your own good qualities. A study conducted by Headspace has shown that through meditation you are also less reactive to provocation and can handle stressful situations with more ease. Needless to say that this has great effects on your work life and makes you more productive.
how to get started?
“This all sounds great but I find it so hard to stop my thoughts during meditation”
I hear this excuse all the time and it couldn’t be more wrong. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts, it’s about observing them. Nobody can stop thinking completely but you can be aware of the thoughts in your head and bring your attention back to your breathing.
The first step is to find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably and close your eyes. Just slow down and start focusing on your breath – in the beginning your body might resist the stillness but don’t let it distract you. Breathe slowly and be aware of the present moment. Every time you get carried away by your thoughts, bring your focus back on your breathing. You will see that with every session it gets easier to concentrate on your breathing. You can start with 5 minutes and then increase the amount of time until 15-20 minutes. If it’s too difficult for you to sit in silence in the beginning, I recommend guided meditations on YouTube or following meditation apps:
Even if you don’t have the time to sit down every day for 15-20 minutes, you can implement mindfulness exercises during activities like brushing your teeth, eating a meal or taking a shower. Just try to be in the present moment while doing these things and be aware of your breathing & body.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of meditation, I also recommend the new Netflix series “Headspace Guide to Meditation”.
Author: Melike Dogan
Steve Jobs Biography – Walter Isaacson, 2011