Meditation – that quiet inward reflection – putting the brain into neutral to settle runaway thoughts, can be one of the most powerful forms of relaxation.
Cultures the world over from Buddhist monks to Muslim Sufis have practiced mindfulness for centuries to achieve a clear, calm and enlightened state.
In our busy changing world, meditation techniques can be incredibly helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, especially as we round out the year and try to find time to unwind.
Beyond individuals seeking mental respite through introspection, there also appears to be a global movement for group meditation.
One of these significant events takes place in Thailand at the Phra Dhammakaya temple near Bangkok, with one million children gathering to meditate together each year.
The V-Star Change the World group pray and meditation began in 2008 as part of the World Morality Revival project initiated by the temple’s abbot, Luang Phor Dhammachayo.
The belief was that when all these children meditate together for a whole day it can help change the world, healing the scars humanity has inflicted on Mother Earth.
Children from 7000 schools across Thailand and the world come together for the day-long meditation – a powerful act of good will and positivity.
This ambitious meditation project considers the power of the people, that together the million little children sending positive vibes out into the universe might shift the global consciousness towards a more peaceful state.
For those new to meditation, the Dalai Lama says the number one key is to observe the mind.
“Generally speaking, our mind is predominantly directed towards external objects. Our attention follows after the sense experiences …But in this exercise, what you should do is to withdraw your mind inward; don’t let it chase after or pay attention to sensory objects.”
The spiritual guide says it’s also important not to completely withdraw during the mindful state.
“At the same time, don’t allow it to be so totally withdrawn that there is a kind of dullness or lack of mindfulness. You should maintain a very full state of alertness and mindfulness, and then try to see the natural state of your consciousness—a state in which your consciousness is not afflicted by thoughts of the past, the things that have happened, your memories and remembrances; nor is it afflicted by thoughts of the future, like your future plans, anticipations, fears, and hopes.”
Those who meditate say it can take years to master this floating state, but it seems some of the world’s most successful leaders including Twitter’s founder Jack Dorsey and talk show legend Oprah Winfrey cite daily meditation as one of the most rewarding practices to combat stress and burnout.
Spiritually, the meditation may help us quieten our mind, with its daily concerns and fears for the future. Scientifically, the meditation may actually improve our physical function, increasing the electromagnetic energy that the body generates.
Some of the research also points to meditation’s benefits for decision making, confidence, clarity and control. In their book “Just Sit: A Meditation Guidebook for People Who Know They Should But Don’t” authors Elizabeth and Sukey Novogratz state that meditation increases the cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which runs the long term memory as well as the ability to learn new things.
So, it seems when it comes to leadership, something as simple as taking a few minutes each day to pause and be still with your thoughts, can be one of the most powerful things you can do to bring energy and clarity to your work life – giving you the freedom to be your most authentic and composed self.