Mindful Leadership

In May, I attended the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. It was exciting to watch and listen to the Oracles of Omaha (Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger) answer questions about their investment decisions.

But even more exciting and intellectually stimulating was what I experienced the day before when I attended an invitation-only meeting of global business leaders. There were about 100 of us in the hotel meeting room and during the course of the day, a variety of participants got up and talked about trends, leadership, their life’s journey, and more. They came from all over the world: Oman, Australia, California, Iowa, and Switzerland, to name a few.

At the end of the day, our host and facilitator stood in front of the room and asked people to share their main observations: takeaways and “aha”s.

Meditation was on the top of the list.

Yes, meditation had been mentioned by many of the leaders and CEOs in our group. Honestly, I was quite surprised to learn that so many of the world’s business leaders practice meditation. Common threads in their comments were that it was a way to create calm in the day, to give them time to get centered, and to get rid of distractions, and it helped create some inner peace.

After I traveled home from Omaha, I kept thinking in the back of my head—I really want to learn to meditate.

A few months ago, one of my personal advisors suggested I take at least 10 minutes every day to sit still and be quiet. Like many of us in business, I feel like I am constantly on the hamster wheel of life and the only time I stop is when I roll into bed at night. Go-go-go. That’s what it’s always felt like. It was nearly impossible for me to think about sitting still for 10 minutes and not doing anything. But I did try it. I was inconsistent, but I started to do it on the weekends when I was home alone. And sometimes when I got home at night, I would make a conscious effort to sit quietly in a dark area of my house and do nothing. It felt weird at first, but then it got better.

Then, about a month ago, a friend of mine told me she had started meditating. And I said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to meditate.” She said she uses an app on her phone and she shared it with me (there was a free trial).

So, I downloaded the app, got up a little earlier the next morning and listened to the guided meditation (for 20 minutes total). What I liked about this guided meditation is that Oprah gives a 1- to 2-minute overview, then Deepak Chopra shares a 2- to 3-minute insight. Then he gives you a specific mantra and peaceful music plays for 13 to 14 minutes as you repeat the mantra to yourself.

And then I would start my day.

So, I’ve been meditating for four weeks and this is what I’ve learned:

  1. I actually look forward to my meditation time. I used to be rush-rush-rush in the morning, but now I take my time. The meditation actually sets my intention for the day.
  2. I’ve noticed that I feel more calm and clear at work. More focused. Not so distracted.
  3. I am sleeping better at night.

A couple of days last weekend, I had the time to meditate a second time in the afternoon. I re-listened to the same meditation as in the morning. I felt energized and clearer. I found myself getting excited just thinking about meditating a second time on the same day.

In casual conversation with two male acquaintances over the last few weeks, both told me they had been thinking about meditating as well. I shared the link above and both of them, business executives, are trying it out.

Many Fortune 500 CEOs use this mindfulness practice: Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Ford, and Arianna Huffington, to name just a few. Harvard Business Review published this article about the trend in 2015.

Many meditation apps are available. Check out headspace.com and calm.com for starters. If you’re wondering if meditation is for you, just think about it. And if you already meditate, I would love to hear from you.

Namaste,
Karen

2 thoughts on “Mindful Leadership

  1. I appreciate the post. For me it is first thing in the morning. My phone, a bluetooth speaker, and start up the Insight Timer app. The bluetooth speaker travels well, is good for the guided meditations, though I just listen to my breathing and lets the thoughts drift away till the bell rings. It is a struggle for me to get past 11 minutes each day. My day is harder without meditative practice. I am well aware of that as I am not religious about it and have many days without meditation. Regular meditation practice makes my day run smoother.

    Insight Timer is rated as the top free meditation app on the Android and iOS stores. Other than using the app I have no involvement with it. https://insighttimer.com/

  2. I too love the 21-day experience and sign up each time it’s offered throughout the year. Last Christmas my husband purchased a Muse Meditation headband for me. Although I don’t travel with it, I can still use the APP when I’m on the road & it certainly supports my daily habit.

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