The benefits of meditation and mindfulness have been observed over thousands of years, since the first reference to it around 6 BC. Meditation is done in many ways and takes many forms, but it is commonly defined as a mode of consciousness that has the purpose of the observation of feelings, both external and internal. This is done to promote relaxation, to develop and foster feelings of compassion and acceptance, and to energise the person that is meditating.

More recently, meditation has become big in business – a billion-dollar industry, no less. Like yoga, this ancient practice is finding a foothold in business as its benefits become clear. In the US alone, meditation and mindfulness workshops generated revenue of close to $1 billion, not counting the exponential turnover of the numerous meditation apps that are available today.

Why meditate?

Meditation has a myriad of scientifically proven benefits, both in everyday life and in business.

1. Creativity

In a world where creativity in business has become just as important as any other professional skill, meditation helps to bring about a state of mind where creative breakthroughs and insights – the so-called “a-ha” or “eureka” moments – are possible.

It has been shown that different types of meditation foster both divergent thinking (a type of thinking where many possible solutions to a particular problem can be generated) as well as convergent thinking (a process whereby one possible solution to a particular problem can be generated). In a professional context, where problems and challenges are a dime a dozen, creative and critical thinking is, well, critical.

2. Focus

Not surprisingly, another benefit of meditation is that it enhances focus. Any modern-day professional knows the prevalence of distraction in the workplace. The constant pings and message notifications we encounter on a normal day at work have the tendency to take the attention away from the task at hand, and while meditating won’t take away the distractions, it might just help to make them easier to ignore while you are focusing on something specific.

3. Lessens anxiety and boosts emotional intelligence

Meditation has also been proven to lessen anxiety and boost resilience and performance, even when you are stressed. Regulating your emotions in this way consequently builds emotional intelligence, which is an attribute that is invaluable to both managers and employees, as emotional intelligence is crucial to any team and its inner workings.

How does it work?

As meditation – or mindfulness training, as it’s more commonly referred to in the business setting – becomes a tool that is incorporated more frequently, it runs the risk of just becoming another item on the to-do list of your organisation.

Be wary of doing this: promoting mindfulness shouldn’t be something that becomes one more thing to tick off, but it can be a vital part of the daily running of your business. Just 10 minutes a day over a period of 16 weeks already brings about significant changes in brain functioning related to enhanced focused attention, according to studies published by the medical journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Apps to help you meditate

Mindfulness training isn’t quite as prominent (or expensive) in the South African business world as it is abroad just yet, and integrating it as a part of your business strategy will only cost you a few minutes a day. Not sure how to start? Try these mobile apps:

• Stop, Breathe, Think for iPhone or Android
• Omvana for iPhone or Android
• Calm for iPhone or Android

About The Author

Angie Gallagher

Angie Gallagher is in client relations at a pharmaceutical company. Aside from writing content for Counting Coins, Angie has tried her hand at a few juvenile attempts at poetry filled with storms and stress, and a marginally successful radio station, Radio Grootoor, recorded on cassette tapes when she was ten.

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