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14 Executives Who Swear By Meditation

Photo: AP Images

CEOs have stressful jobs, and some have taken to intense hobbies to find solace from the daily grind.Some practice meditation—or even Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based technique derived about 50 years ago from ancient Indian practices.

We’ve compiled a list of leaders who say that meditating gives them an edge in the competitive business world. Some have even built it into their company’s culture.

Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio uses Transcendental Meditation to check his ego

Dalio -- founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund -- has built many of the TM principles into his firm's culture.

According to a New York Magazine profile, Transcendental Meditation informed Dalio's 'belief that a person's main obstacle to improvement was his own fragile ego; at his firm, he would make constant, unvarnished criticism the norm, until critiques weren't taken personally and no one held back a good idea for fear of being wrong.'

Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff started to meditate because his job at Oracle was so stressful

He's a longtime practitioner, according to a 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article.

'I enjoy meditation, which I've been doing for over a decade -- probably to help relieve the stress I was going through when I was working at Oracle,' he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Panda Express Founder Andrew Cherng once paused a business meeting to encourage a frazzled store manager to meditate

'I want to fix my people from the inside,' Cherng, who regularly practices meditation himself, told Forbes.

Former Monsanto CEO Bob Shapiro turned office rooms into meditation spaces

Shapiro, who co-founded Sandbox Industries, a VC firm, told Bloomberg News that he turned to meditation after being introduced to the practice by a friend from his Harvard days.

'As a business person, I noticed a number of people I knew pretty well who really picked up on it, people who perhaps had come into it with some degree of scepticism and found the experience useful,' he said.

Former CEO Bill George did the same thing at Medtronic

George, who now teaches at Harvard Business School, told Bloomberg News that he likes to close his eyes and breathe deeply as soon as a flight begins.

''The very best time to meditate is on a plane,'' he said. ''I have to go to Europe a lot. If I land at 8 a.m., meditation gives me an opportunity to get deep rest and refocus before my board meeting at 10.''

While at Medtronic, George dedicated one of the firm's conference rooms to being a quiet space where employees could go for a break, according to the Bloomberg report.

Def Jam Founder Russell Simmons says Transcendental Meditation has changed his life

Simmons wrote about transcendental meditation in a 2010 column at The Huffington Post:

About two years ago, I visited a school in South Africa where all the students practiced one particular form of meditation--Transcendental Meditation (TM). They were bright, alert, energized with life. A short while later I returned to New York and I met a long-time TM teacher, Bob Roth...

Even though I had been meditating in different ways for over 10 years, I asked Bob to teach me. I have now been doing TM for two years. It has changed my experiences in meditation and therefore my experiences in life.'

Oprah Winfrey says she uses TM to connect with God

Oprah told Dr. Oz last year that Transcendental Meditation has helped her 'connect with that which is God,' according to the Huffington Post.

A fairly new devotee, Oprah was introduced to the practice during her work with inner city school systems, where TM has been introduced to children with academic and behavioural problems.

Berkowitz told Inc. Magazine the ritual is an important part of his day.

'The first thing I do in the morning is retreat to my den and meditate,' he said. 'I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, closing my eyes, clearing my mind, and repeating my mantra until I'm in a semiconscious state. Sometimes, I'm wrestling with an issue before meditation, and afterward the answer is suddenly clear.

Green Mountain Coffee Roaster Founder Robert Stiller brought in meditation instructors for his employees

Stiller in 2008 told Bloomberg News that he regularly brought in a meditation instructor to the company's Vermont-based offices to lead employees in meditation.

'If you have a meditation practice, you can be much more effective in a meeting,'' the now ex-chairman said. 'Meditation helps develop your abilities to focus better and to accomplish your tasks.''

Ramani Ayer, former Chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group, says TM makes him a better decision-maker

Rubin serves on the Board of Trustees at Maharishi University of Management, the Fairfield, Iowa-based school that was founded by Transcendental Meditation teachers.

He has said that TM gives him a 'competitive advantage' in the business world.

'I have the mental clarity and alertness for both laser-like focus on the details as well as broad comprehension,' he said.

Executive Management Associates CEO Nancy Slomowitz reduced her company's health care insurance costs by offering TM classes to her employees

Marnie Abramson, who owns Tower Companies real estate firm, says offering TM courses for employees is the best way to increase productivity

After many of her co-workers reported positive results from practicing Transcendental Meditation, Abramson decided to begin practicing as a means of coping with her hectic work environment, according to TMwomenProfessionals.org.

'I would say that arranging a TM course for your employees is probably the fastest, easiest, and least expensive way of getting more out of your workers than you could ever imagine,' says Abramson.

Tupperware CEO Rick Goings meditates daily to refocus

Goings told The Financial Times that he tries to meditate for at least 20 minutes every afternoon.

'For me, it's a practice that not only burns off stress but gives me fresh eyes to clarify what's really going on and what really matters,' he said.

Meditation isn't the only key to success

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