One of my favorite books is “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. In it the author makes a strong case for meditation for its own sake, beyond its usefulness as a tool to combat stress and disease. His point is that the state of mindfulness brought about by regular meditation – the state of “being” in the present moment rather than “doing” – is particularly helpful given the frenetic pace and constant distractions of life.
While I make no claims on having mindfulness mastered, I do believe there is tremendous merit in a reflective practice, particularly for those in the fast-paced, high-stress life of executive level leadership. The state of “being,” of focus on the here and now rather than on yesterday’s disaster or tomorrow’s impending crisis, is a place where creativity can blossom, where calm can replace anxiety and where solutions to problems can emerge.
Understandably, in the face of a constant stream of demands on a leader’s time, it seems counterintuitive to….sit….and do…nothing…even for a few minutes. But what if five minutes of quiet reflection calmed frazzled nerves and created new calm and focus on a stressful situation? What if ten minutes of silence resulted in an epiphany about a multi-million dollar problem? What if fifteen minutes spent emptying one’s mind caused a mental tidal wave of unique new ideas?
It’s possible. Probable, in fact. It’s happened to me – well, maybe not the multi-million dollar part, but big ideas and tremendous calm, even in a few minutes. And when I have managed to entice a client to try quiet reflection and breathing – even just for two minutes at a stretch – the impact is tangible. Sometimes remarkable.
A couple of minutes of silence in a day is a gift – a gift to yourself that pays for itself in multiples. A gift with tremendous ROI.
Have you tried it? If you have, please share your stories in the comments below. If you haven’t, what’s in the way of giving it a shot, even for a few minutes for a few days? I’d love to hear those comments, too.