A friend of mine just returned from a five-day business trip to New York City. When I asked her how it went, she said, “Great! My meetings went well and I enjoyed the night life. But wow, I’m feeling frazzled. I really just need some quiet!”
I gave her a knowing smile, and she said (while rolling her eyes), “Oh, please. You don’t have to tell me … I know what I need to do.”
What I wanted to tell her, and what she already knew, was that her body was missing the meditative practices she had grown accustomed to (and yes, I had something to do with that). The constant noise that most of us are subjected to, whether it’s the sounds of electronics, traffic, machines or other people, can take a toll on your mind and body, especially when that noise level is beyond what you’re used to.
And that’s not even counting the other “noises” we deal with every day in our head, like: negative self-talk; obsessive list-making; worrying over deadlines; replaying stressful conversations; negotiating business deals or preparing for conflict resolution.
Most us of spend endless days running from task to task and place to place, tending to our colleagues, customers, family, children or bosses. We text, call, talk and listen to multiple conversations and stimuli pretty much around the clock. But we rarely take the time to breathe, calm down and get centered. Meditation is a practice that can transform your life and restore your energy and balance. The art of being quiet can bring with it an extensive list of additional physical and mental benefits, including:
- Stress reduction
- Increased attention span
- Lower blood pressure
- Better sleep
- Higher brain function
- Increased immunity
- Clarity and peace of mind
There’s no doubt about it – meditation can be transformational. But don’t just take my word for it. “Getting away from the noise,” as my friend described it, is nothing new. For centuries, civilizations have known the benefits of this practice. But what might surprise you is how meditation is finding its way in places other than yoga studios and nature retreats. Here are some great examples:
Professional athletes use meditation to improve their game.
School systems in San Francisco, New York City and other communities around the world successfully incorporate meditation in the classroom.
Stressed-out employees find ways to meditate at their desk, and during their normal work day.
Some innovative (and maybe a little unconventional) quiet-seekers gravitate to extreme and unusual places like icy lakes and on top of buildings to find their calm.
Progressive CEOs, like Aetna’s Mark Bertolini, provide the space and opportunity for thousands of their workers to meditate and practice yoga.
As my friend discovered, meditation requires regular practice. But the good news is that it only takes a few minutes a day, and for many of us, that’s all we have! Anyone can learn to do it, and the benefits can help you create the very life you want to lead. Ready to find your quiet? I can help you with that.
What’s your quiet?
Do you practice meditation regularly? Where is your favorite place to practice it, and what type of benefits have you experienced? I’d love to hear about your stories. Please leave your comments below.