This article originally was published on Forbes.com. You can view it here.
I’ve been dabbling in meditation since discovering the Headspace app years ago. And by dabbling, I mean it took me more than a year to complete the introductory ten basic sessions (intended to be completed in ten days). Needless to say, it’s hard to make time for something that seems - on the surface - kind of "fluffy."
Meditation is becoming more and more mainstream, thanks to Headspace and other easily accessible apps like (my personal favorite) Calm. But it’s actually an ancient practice that dates back as far as 1500 BCE. Calm and Headspace state their missions similarly: to make the world healthier and happier. By making meditation accessible and easy to incorporate into our lives, these startups are contributing to a higher standard of consciousness that leads to higher levels of awareness, compassion, and productivity, plus lower levels of stress, anxiety, and chaos.
That all sounds amazing, right? But it’s hard to get in the habit. One thing that makes it so hard is that it’s easy to forget to do it. So, I made a commitment to myself that I would set aside just ten minutes a day for a full week to see if I could start to build a habit. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or if it would have any impact on me professionally. But after just one week, I was a believer.
Here are four ways meditation can make you exponentially more effective in your career.
Increased focus and productivity.
Our good friend the Internet has contributed to our collective challenge with focus. We’re surrounded by stimuli and interruptions 24/7. It’s so easy to get distracted, making any task that calls for immense concentration require triple the time and effort it should. The first thing you learn in meditation is the basic task of focusing only on your breath. Teachers remind you that it’s normal for your mind to wander, and that when this happens, you should gently bring your attention back to your breath.
I’ve noticed that I’m less distracted when concentrating on specific tasks. In meditation, you'll focus your breathing, giving that your full attention. The practice of gently guiding your brain back to that focus will assist you in doing the same when working on something important. When you get distracted and start down a rabbit hole, you will notice and gently guide yourself back to the singular task on which you want to focus. The result is greater productivity and a higher rate of successful task completion.
Elevated energy and memory capacity.
I can now fall asleep in ten minutes. Through meditation, it will become easier to rest your busy mind and replace anxious thoughts with a focus solely on your breath. I can now do this without any guidance, and it works like a charm, no matter what mental burdens I’m carrying when I lie down.
Getting to sleep faster, sleeping longer, and sleeping more soundly all contribute to higher energy levels during the day, as well as increased memory capacity.