A constant stream of stuff surrounds us. Every day there’s news, gossip, debates, and entertainment. There are hundreds of channels, podcasts, and websites. Let’s not forget about the never-ending feed from your various social media streams. At work, customers have needs, employees have complaints, bosses have concerns, and you have to wade through all of it today only to repeat the journey tomorrow.
Moving through all of these inputs puts you under emotional stress. You are challenged to respond whether a response is required or not. Even the act of considering a response can add to your stress. There is a way to keep yourself from being overwhelmed by this barrage of inputs – meditation.
Now, before you dismiss meditation out of hand as some hippie-level bullshit that doesn’t work for you or your beliefs, let’s take a moment to understand the role that meditation can play in your future success. The goal of meditation is to actively connect you with your Self. This connection, or awareness, increases your ability to manage your emotions and determine what things will affect you and to what degree.
Meditating doesn’t require any specialized equipment, belief systems, clothing or time commitment. If you sit quietly, close your eyes, breathe evenly, and pay attention to those breaths you are meditating. It’s a formal practice of taking a moment to gather your thoughts and then being aware of them. In that sense, you’ve taken the initial steps to meditate all of your life. In the article, “Try Meditation to Strengthen Your Resilience,” author Peter Bregman describes what happens next:
“Soon enough, you will notice that your mind is thinking about something. Maybe it’s wondering what you’re doing or what you look like doing it. Maybe it’s trying to solve a problem. Maybe it just remembered something you forgot to do. The person noticing those thoughts? That’s you. That’s your Self. Your Self just noticed ‘thinking’ . . . . You are not your thinking. You are the person watching your thinking. That little distinction is the difference between feeling your feelings and being them . . .”
The ability to stand apart from your thoughts and emotions is key to defending yourself from the barrage of stimuli that surrounds you every day. As you learn to master this skill, you will find that you are better able to actively control what used to seem uncontrollable. Research shows that, like a muscle, you can rewire your brain through meditation.
In the article, “Just 8 Weeks of Meditation Can Change Your Brain for the Better, Science Shows” from Inc. Magazine, author Jessica Stillman reports on the meta-study of meditation. She writes, “these results strongly suggest that just two months of meditation is enough to rewire your brain in ways that could encourage greater focus, emotional control, and thoughtful decision making.”
Eight weeks may sound like a long time, but it’s not, certainly in comparison to a lifetime of being free from the emotional barrage that you’re enduring today. In just two months of daily practice, you can become the master of your inner world and all the benefits that come with that title.
The greatest benefit for a manager is summed up by Peter Bregman, “Identifying with your stable, predictable Self makes you a stable, predictable person and leader, one who doesn’t get tossed around by random events and the decisions of the people around you.”
So take the time to free your mind from being buffeted by the world around you. As we’ve noted here before, you can’t manage others until you can manage yourself.