Some Thoughts on Meditation

Experienced . . . or Not

Are you new to meditation, or have you tried it “unsuccessfully” in the past? We are often deterred from learning something new by the language used or the teaching setting.  This is the case for many people who try to learn about meditation. Traditionally, meditation has been taught in religious settings, yoga studios, and spiritual retreat centers, generally using the language of that setting.  In contrast, the Meditation4Leadership program integrates the language of business and leadership (much of which is universal across cultures) with various meditative practices in order to make these practices more accessible to people who are comfortable with that language.

If you have practiced meditation for many years, Meditation4Leadership helps you identify additional techniques and a “practical” application for the meditation techniques you already practice.  By integrating your meditation practice with your daily experiences, your meditation practice can become more meaningful and help you become more successful and effective, both personally and professionally.

Your Way is the Right Way
A critical point to keep in mind—particularly if learning meditation practice makes you nervous or uncomfortable—is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Meditation is not about sitting cross-legged in the traditional lotus position for hours; rather, meditation allows for a wide variety of different techniques and positions you can easily integrate into your daily life, generally in only 5-20 minutes per day. While some people practice one meditation technique exclusively, others prefer variety.  Different techniques work differently for different people at different times in their lives, depending upon their needs at the moment.  For example, some people who want to improve the effectiveness of their relationships may achieve success through a loving-kindness practice, while others may find a gratitude practice; or silent mind-focused practice helps them achieve higher levels of consciousness and wisdom that positively impact their perspective.

You Can Do It
Many people find the biggest resistance to mediation is your mind telling you, “I can’t meditate.”  Meditation is not about “doing” anything or “thinking” anything or “accomplishing” anything.  Meditation is about “being.”  There is no one alive who can’t “be.”

At Meditation4Leadership, we use the term meditation to refer to a broad variety of centering and concentration practices that allow you to focus on your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual state. The practice of the concentration technique is the tool to assist your consciousness to enter a meditative state of being and observing.

Meditation is simply a practice in which an individual’s inner self trains his or her mind to focus on something (or nothingness) that induces a different state of consciousness from the day-to-day mind chatter consciousness. In this meditative state of consciousness, where the everyday chatter in our mind is quiet, your inner self become a witness and can observe the insights that fill the void that mind chatter usually occupies.

No Judgment
Try not to judge your meditations or label your practice for the day as a success or failure. As leaders, we fall into the habit of constantly judging ourselves and others.  Keep an open mind. Try not to judge whether you “can” meditate or whether you can integrate the meditation and leadership techniques until you try them.  There is no way to know upfront what will work best for you.  There is no predetermined timeline for how long it will take for you to see the benefits of meditation manifesting in your life.  Accept that you will perceive some meditation sessions to be more impactful than others – and that this is not an indication of either success or failure.  It may take weeks or even months to feel or understand the impact of a meditation session, as meditation tends to build upon itself with revelations (“ah ha” moments) coming seemingly out of nowhere.

The primary purpose of Meditation4Leadership is to provide you with tools to practice universal leadership traits (and maybe receive a few incremental insights along the way to fine tune your leadership style).  It is the linking of the meditation techniques to the universal leadership traits that we hope you find a unique and different approach to these teachings, but we expect that the most valuable learning will come not through any insight we may have shared with you but through your personal practice of these meditation techniques.  We encourage you to practice what you learn in our seminars.  The monumental impact from meditation is possible for each and every one of us — all arising from only 5-20 minutes a day

Some Thoughts on Yoga

The word yoga derives from the word “yoke,” which involves connecting the body to the mind and also to the soul.   There are many forms of traditional yoga, including:

Kkarma yoga—pursuit of action devoted to the divine

Jnana yoga— pursuit of the path to wisdom

Bhakti yoga—devotion to union with the divine

Classical yoga—a path that combines the many ways to integrate the body and mind

These practices were not designed for exercise, but as practices to explore human potential.  What would it be like to function at the maximum potential of our minds and bodies?  At its core, the practice of yoga is meditation in motion. It’s not about what happens on the mat. It is about how you react to it. Yoga is a practice that prepares us to be ready for anything

Physically, yoga pushes you to be aware, pay attention, and focus on what you are doing.  While you are learning the positions, you may literally fall over if you are not present, aware and paying full attention. A good yoga teacher will bring your attention to the body part being worked so that your practice includes focused awareness as well as movement.

Yoga is a practice of postures without attachment to results.  It doesn’t matter how far the person next to you can go or what you could do on a different day.  The lesson is to go to your edge, and not beyond, in each moment.  The difference between yoga and stretching is intention and awareness—awareness not just of body but of both breath and body moving in sync. With yoga practice, you will become more aware of your own body and your body’s capabilities (without self-judgment) at that moment in time as well as the ability of your breath to nourish your body and keep you in balance.  The practice can extend off of the mat to greater awareness in any given moment in everything you do, and the ability to focus on your breath to bring you back into balance, equanimity and perspective at any time.

Yoga is also an ideal meditative practice to develop the intangible leadership quality of grit. We practice postures to our edge at that moment on that day.  There are variations of each posture to adjust for different body types, injuries and other physical limitations.  The key is to make the effort, be aware of the difference between difficulty and pain, and persevere through the discomfort.  When you fall out of a posture, be resilient and come back to it.  When you open your body, you open your heart, move through what you previously considered limits or barriers and become aware of your passions and opportunity.  Remember to breath. When yoga practice (or life) is moving too fast and seems too hard, we can seemingly slow it down by focusing again on our breath and taking one thing at a time–one breath at a time, one movement at a time.  We keep up the effort. We persevere through the experience. We are resilient. We bounce back when we are not able to accomplish something or have to adjust. We try to do so without any negative self-judgment.

Meditation4Leadership’s goal is to help you live life as we practice on the mat—to learn be more aware of our bodies, our breath and, ultimately, awareness itself.  We learn through greater connection with our bodies and inner self to better connect with our inner wisdom and with others.  That inner wisdom helps keep us balanced and brings perspective to our decision making and our actions. You will become more aware of your passions that may have become buried over time but are unleashed during opening postures and the barriers that hold us back.   We practice to break through what our mind previously established as our limits to reach our own potential.

Yoga is a practice that never becomes perfect.  Yoga is a practice without limits.

FOLLOW UP RECOMMENDATIONS

Take the 30 Day Challenge

You can only change your life and better fulfill your potential one moment at a time, one intention at a time, one day at a time and one meditation practice at a time.

Commit right now to trying meditation as a tool to reach your potential.

Devote yourself to 30 days straight of meditation practice at the same time in the same place for about the same length of time.  If it helps you, set a timer or alarm to beep when you are supposed to be done.  Beginners may find 5-10 minutes a day a good start for their practice. Overtime, you will find what feels right for you (usually 10-20 minutes).

You may choose to focus simply on your breath or practice any of the meditation techniques provided on our website or in the book, Leading from Within.  You may use the same technique every day or a variety based on what feels right in your gut that day. It takes about 30 days to begin to train yourself so that meditation becomes a habit.

After that, if you miss a day, you miss a day.  If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you.  You won’t know unless you give it a fair try.  A fair try is 30 days.