Nicole L. Betts is a former property executive who founded and now runs corporate stress management company Pursuit of Wellness.
If the idea of meditation commonly conjures images of monks, hippies, bare feet and tie-dye, it may be time to think again: Australian corporates are fast joining the ranks of global business leaders that use meditation programs to manage stress.
Last week, former Australian trader Tom Cronin wrote on Business Insider that working in the finance sector in the 1980s gave him insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, depression and eventually agoraphobia, before he discovered the world of Zen.
A form of ancient Kundalini meditation is even recommended by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, the practice decreases stress and increases activity in areas of the brain related to memory.
Globally, LinkedIn founder Jeff Weiner, hedge fund boss Ray Dalio, Steve Jobs, Ophra Winfrey, Bill Ford, Russell Simmons, Evan Williams, Larry Brilliant, Tony Schwartz and more recently Rupert Murdoch, also declare that meditation underpins their success.
Companies like the National Australia Bank, Victoria Police, Diabetes Australia, St Kilda Football Club, Origin Energy and CEO Institute now employ meditation programs that teach people how disconnect to improve productivity, manage their emotions and stressful situations, and better understand the needs of their coworkers.
Still, in my experience, meditation is still more widely accepted in the US mainstream culture than it is in Australia. In some more conservative industries – like property, where I used to work – it’s still viewed as too ‘alternative’.
It’s not all cross legged postures and pebble towers: meditation is in its simplest form is taking time out from constant engagement, connectivity, appointments, phone calls, emails and social networking to disconnect, to quieten the mind and embrace relaxation. To turn off from the endless thoughts, to do lists, schedules and responsibilities.
Disconnecting can be many things:
- a simple 60 second thought exercise;
- a walk or run in the park;
- a morning mantra and breathing activity;
- or a lunchtime 30 minute session of modern Qi Gong.
Meditation doesn’t need to take a huge amounts of your time. To be effective and produce results, it does, however, need to be a regular practice – a new keystone habit in your daily life – and you need to make commitment to persistently and patiently develop your skills of consciousness and awareness.
Just like physical exercise, if you go to the gym once or twice it’s not going to have much of an effect. Meditation is the gym for your brain.
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