When you think about meditation, what comes to your mind? An image of Buddhist monks deep in the monasteries of Tibet? Or a tool that can improve your performance as an entrepreneur?
If you answered the Buddhist monks, you’re not alone. Many people still see meditation as an activity reserved for mystics and the gurus, not something that belongs in an entrepreneur’s busy schedule.
But over the last few years, meditation has become a daily practice for several of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Jack Dorsey, Tim Ferriss and Oprah Winfrey, just to name a few, all meditate every morning before starting their workday, as it helps them perform to their full potential throughout the day. Plus, it improves their emotional mastery and cognitive performance over time.
Not sold yet? Here are five reasons why you start meditating -- like right now.
Increases willpower. Willpower is one of the entrepreneur’s most precious assets. It’s the force that allows you to do all the things needed to move your business forward, day after day.
Kelly McGonigal Ph.D, who teaches a class on the Science of Willpower at Stanford University, ranks meditation as her number-one way to increase willpower.
“Practicing mindfulness meditation for a few minutes each day can actually boost willpower by building up gray matter in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and govern decision making,” McGonigal says.
Ramps up creativity. Coming up with original solutions to customers’ problems is at the core of successful entrepreneurship.
In a study conducted by professor Melissa Hines at Princeton University, she discovered that meditation improves what psychologists call "ideational fluency", or the tendency for mental associations to flow easily, rapidly and productively.
Boosts productivity. As an entrepreneur, the speed at which you grow your business and reach your goals is directly correlated with your ability to stay focused. Meditation will train your mind to concentrate on the task at hand, which will help you move through your daily to-do list swiftly and efficiently.
A study at Yale University showed that people who regularly practice meditation are able to switch off areas of the brain linked to daydreaming, lapses of attention and disorders such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.
Decreases your stress levels. While a little bit of stress can be beneficial, too much of it is extremely destructive. It inhibits your immune system, drains your energy and negatively impacts your mood.
Meditation elicits what Harvard researcher Herbert Benson calls the “relaxation response,”a state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress.
For instance, an Indian study found that “the practice of meditation reduced the physiologic stress responses without taking away the beneficial effect of stress, namely, improved memory scores.”
Helps you deal with fear. Whether it’s an important call with a prospective client, a pitch to investors or a meeting with the board, the ability to shine in the face of fear is a critical skill for any ambitious entrepreneur.
In this this study lead by Britta K. Hölzel from Harvard Medical School, it was shown that meditation shrinks the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear.
When people meditate, it actually shrinks the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear, according to a study from Harvard Medical School.
As counterintuitive as it seems, sitting in meditation will develop your ability to perform at your best when the stakes are high.
Now you can see why more and more successful entrepreneurs are embracing meditation. Are you ready to do the same?
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.