First, I want to clarify the understanding around meditation. Most people think they have to sit with their eyes closed and force their mind clear of thoughts to meditate. Some places claim there are 108 ways to meditate, others increase or decrease the number. Meditation is classified under different forms with fancy names for each type.
In its simplest form, meditation is the space where one feels truly connected to oneself. It is about being present, about “being” not doing. This can happen during dancing while being lost in music, a guided recording, chanting, trekking in nature or closing your eyes and sitting among others.
Living in this fast-paced VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Changing, Ambiguous) world, most of the time our mind is filled with thoughts on what to “do” next. We believe that the center point of control is on us, in doing what is best or right in our opinion. Meditation becomes extremely important for leaders dealing with many dynamic situations; millions of issues to be resolved, making critical decisions that impact lives and resources at scale. Leaders need to tap into the reservoir of unlimited energy that meditation can supply to impact people and outcomes at scale. There are so many benefits to it in an environment fraught with uncertainty, risk, and stress.
Meditation is becoming a daily habit for so many successful people from diverse fields including the arts and the business world. Some CEO’s that practice regularly are Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square fame, Mark Benioff, Orpah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington and many more
So how does it work?
What it does is: it reduces the resistance that we give to our own intentions. People will always tell you to listen to your heart but not many will tell you how exactly to do that. You see, the heart murmurs. To listen to it, you have to reduce the noise in your head. Meditation is the answer to that. Most successful leaders do this internally and are constantly listening to their heart. They have to clear the clutter in their mind before they can do that. For all the things their job demands - the ability to focus, concentrate, make good decisions, inspire and influence, meditation enables all that. However, like anything else, it has to come from you believing in it. The belief can form only when you try it a few times. You will slowly start seeing the benefits, especially and uniquely through your own perspective.
One of the most fundamental leadership skills that meditation sharpens is self-awareness. I can list a hundred benefits of meditation and scientific reason for it but the only thing that has convinced successful leaders is trying it out for themselves. You will know, as clarity draws in.
The actions that spring from the quiet space are authentic and creative. The absence of resistance you feel during meditation brings forth inspired action. I am an accidental writer. I give the credit to meditation. It helps you tune into the solution while the active thinking mind is more connected to the problems and obvious solutions.
Leaders that have been long-term meditators are not only more courageous but they also have slower reaction times to emotional situations. They have learned the skill to pause for that split second to respond to situations and not just react. It leads to improved cognitive functioning, creative thinking, and productivity. Even improved physical health is an added benefit.
It is hard to be adaptive in a rapidly changing world because we have attachments to how things are supposed to be. However, when we strive for goals, aspirations, and desires without being attached to a specific outcome, we are more open to possibilities and opportunities that are in front of us, and we act with less fear and with greater presence. Mind you, this does not mean that you lose sight of the goal.
People feel leaders become great and emotionally intelligent by suppressing emotion. Meditation allows for emotions to arise in a non-judgemental manner and get its release so that it does not come in your way at the most inopportune times like making tough critical decisions at work.
True meditation is an on-going never-ending practice, being more and more present in every moment. The art and science of leadership become a lot easier to understand and practice once this is internalized.
The views expressed in this article are not those of Fortune India
The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a Leadership Development Specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book - Team Decision Making.