(This post by Joseph Rodarick Law originally appeared in the January-February issue of Forbes China, the Chinese-language edition of Forbes)
Today many leading companies, such as Google, Apple, and Amazon, are offering meditation classes to their employees. Many research studies have scientifically proven the health benefits of meditation, which include managing stress, developing concentration, and increasing self-awareness. Many super achievers and billionaires attribute their success to meditation. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates cited meditation as a great tool for improving his focus. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff meditates, as did the late Steve Jobs. Legendary billionaire investor Ray Dalio has stated that meditation is the single most important reason for his incredible track record of success.
Meditation is a technique for resting and calming the mind. Our minds are often restless, scattered, and distracted due to excessive stimulation of the senses as we respond to outer demands in our everyday lives. Meditation is a practical, scientific, and systematic technique through which we turn inward and explore. It helps us attain a state of peace, balance, calm, concentration, and serenity. As meditation progresses, quietness, stillness, and calm deepen.
What meditation is and is not:
· Meditation is not an activity—sometimes when we focus too hard on technique, we forget that meditation’s fundamental purpose is to attain calmness, serenity, and peace of mind.
· Meditation and concentration—concentration in meditation does not mean applying excessive effort, which may cause strain and tension. It means being alert yet relaxed with focused attention.
· Meditation is not thinking—in its purest form, meditation is not thinking or contemplation of a concept. There is no attempt to give instructions or control the mind. The fundamental essence of meditation is to remain as a silent witness through awareness, in a state of allowing.
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· Meditation is not emptying the mind—it is not that we empty the mind, but we quiet the mind by having a single focus, thereby calming the restless mind. We don’t control the mind but allow the mind to become calm and quiet.
· Silent witness—when a thought passes through our mind, we simply observe the thought without judgment. The spirit of meditation is awareness. We remain a silent witness and watcher of our thoughts, emotions, and mind, without being carried away.
Mindfulness is a common technique used to reduce anxiety. With mindfulness, you give your full attention to what you are doing in the moment. You notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you. When your full focus is on the present moment, there is no room for feelings of anxiety.
1) Stay present in the now. When you find yourself thinking about the past or future, come back to your present moment, your “now” experience. Make a conscious effort to sense your body and your relaxed breathing; notice how you feel. Realize that thoughts about the past and the future are just thoughts; they hold no benefit in the now. You are here now, so cherish this moment, for it will never come again. Remember, whatever you think, you become.
2) Practice walking meditation. This is a wonderful exercise for grounding and stilling the mind, keeping you focused, aware, and in the moment. The next time you find yourself walking, whether from the car park to your office, to catch public transportation, to head over to the coffee shop, on your lunch break, or even within your work area, be conscious of each step you take. Allow each conscious step to be a gentle and focused way to develop a regular rhythm to keep you focused in your heart. Couple this with conscious breathing for alertness and relaxation.
3) Practice being mindful when eating. In many Eastern spiritual traditions, people eat slowly, consciously, and in silence. In that silence, the mind is not stimulated by discussion; it is calm and focused on our connection to the earth that provides the food we eat, it is grateful to the people who gathered or prepared the food, and it is thankful for the life-sustaining energy and vitality of the food. There is so much to be grateful for when eating a meal, even a simple one. Adopting this practice will bring stillness to your mind and create inner connection, joy, and calmness.
Note: Forbes China columnist Joseph Rodarick Law is an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He is executive chairman of J Rodarick Corporation and the author of “Authentic Power and Greatness” and “The Chill Panda: Dealing with Change in Work and Life.”
For more from Forbes China, see www.forbeschina.com