5 Benefits of Adopting a Daily Meditation Practice

meditation

A 5 minute read.

I recently read Dan Harris’ new book 10% Happier and came away with a new understanding how adopting a daily meditation practice doesn’t have to be hard, nor the pastime of only monks, buddhas and New Age-y hippies, and can help improve health (mental and physical) and overall well being. A daily meditation practice became very accessible to me after reading his own experience.

Dan is an ABC News reporter and he shares his personal journey to realizing the positive benefits of regular meditation and “mindful” thinking. The backdrop is his return to New York after covering the Iraq War and dealing with post traumatic stress situations while pursuing a high-pressure network television career. My backstory isn’t as stress challenged or interesting as a war correspondent, but I found inspiration in his writing.

In the high-tech startup world in which I and my colleagues are immersed in, email, texts, tweets, and blog posts blare at us across all our devices. We’re overloading our brains with a constant stream of sensory input and the problem of disconnecting is becoming epidemic. True epiphanies only emerge when we disconnect and clear our minds. And the world needs more epiphanies.

It used to be that a six hour cross country flight without WiFi was agony, but now I kinda enjoy the opportunity for deep thinking when WiFi isn’t available and I’m not tempted to “check in.” Being connected and available to the team is a problem of our own making. So the collective “we” needs to find a happy medium between always being available and purposeful disconnection. For me mediation is a way to achieve healthy balance.

I approached mediation the same way I integrated a regular exercise routine over the past years. Started with simple goals, didn’t beat myself up if I missed a day, and just gradually eased into a cadence.

Here are my five benefits of daily 30 minute meditation:

1. Meditation helps me clear the internal comparing contrasting voice in my head. You know that voice too. It’s judging, comparing, nagging and generally either regretting the past or worried about the future. It keeps me from being in the present moment.

2. I find myself “responding” vs “reacting” in contentious situations (like a business meeting or family event.) Responding is thoughtful vs reacting is knee jerk and not the best way to collaborate.

3. Great ideas are coming forth more easily.

4. Feel refreshed after simple meditation. I’m also sleeping better because I have new tools to quiet my chattering mind before bedtime.

5. I’m more aware of my thoughts and whether they make me feel positive or negative. I can more quickly catch myself gnashing on a negative thought and steer my brain to the positive alternative.

Postscript:

The tools I use are really simple. Comfortable chair in a quiet space, headphones, and a soundtrack from Calm.com. I’m also exploring another mediation approach called Holosync.

Meditation in many forms is taking off in places one doesn’t normally associate with “mindful” thinking: US Marines and gigantic corporations. I have read studies about how introducing meditation practices to soldiers and executives improves military and business outcomes. A large food conglomerate is creating quiet spaces in their offices to allow employees a place to retreat for meditation.

Start-up executives should embrace mediation to help create a healthy balance between work obsession and personal life.

There are direct health benefits too. Medical research shows meditation can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and counteract depression.