Why Business Leaders Love Meditation

Words: Victoria MASTERSON

Meditation helps me lead, says Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of American software company, Salesforce. Benioff also says learning to meditate more than 30 years ago has helped him “stop the inner critic”.

Other business leaders who meditate include founder and CEO of Thrive, and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, television producer and host Oprah Winfrey and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, according to corporate meditation and mindfulness specialist Peak Wellness.

Benefits Of Meditation

Meditation dates back thousands of years, to at least ancient India and China, according to psychology insights website Positive Psychology. It is essentially a mind-training technique that is shown to benefit psychological well-being.

Meditation can help people feel calm, relaxed and mentally balanced, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a US government agency.

It can also help people cope with illness and boost their general health. Some studies suggest that meditation may lower blood pressure and reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome [IBS], NIH says. It may also help with insomnia and ease anxiety and depression.

How-To: Meditation

A quiet setting away from distractions, such as television, radio and mobile phone is a key element of meditation, says the Mayo Clinic.

Sit comfortably and focus your attention. You might focus on your breathing, or on an object, or image, or a mantra — a repeated word, or sound. It’s this focusing of attention that helps free your mind from the things that cause stress and worry, the Mayo Clinic says.

Slow and deepen your breathing. Relax your neck, shoulders and chest. “Let thoughts pass through your mind without judgement,” Mayo Clinic says.

Meditation Research

A 2019 study from Michigan State University suggests that meditation can help people make fewer errors.

The study, published in the journal Brain Sciences, took 200 people who had never meditated and made them try it for 20 minutes. The results suggest meditation can “enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes,” the authors say.

Another study — published in the journal Psychological Reports in 2021 by Florida International University — links reduced mindfulness with emotional instability and ‘cognitive failures,’ such as memory lapses, difficulty concentrating and making mistakes in routine activities.

Mindfulness is all about being aware of the present-moment, including our thoughts and feelings, in a non-judgemental way.

Meditation can also help us stop problematic habits — a 2021 study in the journal Mindfulness suggests. The things we do automatically can hold us back if our environment changes because habits are hard to break, neuroscience website PsyPost explains in its review of the study. This can lead to us making more mistakes.

A study of 73 adults, led by the University of Innsbruck in Austria, found those who meditate are better placed and able to overcome automatic responses to certain trigger events, such as checking their phone as soon as it receives a notification.

VICTORIA MASTERSON is a Senior Writer, Forum Agenda. This article was first published in World Economic Forum under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0.

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