Three reasons why meditation is great for female leaders
Love to cope better with stress, give your brain a boost and be more enthusiastic at work? Find out how meditation can help female leaders.
Beyoncé claims it’s one of her ‘self-care routines.’ Oprah says that it keeps her connected with her inner self. Arianna Huffington maintains that it helped her achieve success. The ‘it’ that these powerful and successful women refer to is something you’ve probably heard before: meditation.
It’s a familiar concept, but people most often have preconceived notions about it. For one thing, it isn’t just about gongs and chanting bald men in robes sitting cross-legged surrounded by a haze of incense smoke. And it isn’t just about religion or spirituality, either. Although it can be, if you want it to. Mostly, though, meditation is a way of alleviating stress. It can scrub off the mental dross that builds up in your mind. Meditation can also help reset your brain.
But exactly what is meditation?
What is meditation?
If you ask three people who practice meditation about its meaning, you’d probably get three different definitions. Meditation can mean many things to many people. However, meditation, at its core, is the practice of training your mind to focus and achieve calmness and emotional stability. It can be a technique to alter consciousness, which can provide psychological benefits and well-being to practitioners.
Like yoga, meditation is also considered a way of healing the mind and body.
The most common types of meditation
Meditation has also many styles and types. Here are some of the most common types of meditation.
This type of meditation is done with an instructor’s guidance. The instructor will ask you to focus on relaxing any part of your body, for example, your hands, or to focus on an object, such as beads or bracelets like the ones from tiny rituals. Meditating with an instructor is good for beginners; you’d be less prone to distractions if someone is there to guide you. The instructor can talk you through different focusing techniques.
This type of meditation is currently the most popular in the US. It trains you to focus on your breathing. Mindfulness also teaches you to focus on your feelings without judgment, reaction, or any interpretation. It involves guided imagery, breathing methods, and other techniques to help relax both mind and body, and in the process aids in reducing stress.
With mindfulness meditation, you can channel your attention away from all the stress of problem-solving, decision-making, planning, and all the negative and random thoughts that can be taxing to your mind and body. However, it’s important to be consistent. The more you practice, the easier it gets to focus. As you become more experienced, mindfulness meditation becomes a habit. And this habit could help you become more balanced emotionally and mentally.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Transcendental meditation is also known as mantra meditation. As a technique of improving your mental focus, it can be similar to a guided meditation, but instead of a body part or objects like beads or crystal bracelets, you’d be focusing on a word, phrase, or sound. Like other types of meditation, TM teaches you how to ignore distractions and how to focus, in the process helping you be more aware and relaxed as well.
Additionally, TM, like other types of meditation, is safe. It may even improve your quality of life. The caveat here is that TM and the other types shouldn’t be used as a replacement for standard modern medical care for treating a specific health condition.
But, how much can meditation really help you? What with all the events that happen around the world, such as the pandemic, political turmoil, economic uncertainties, and others, does meditation have a place in your life? Read on.
Three reasons why meditation helps female leaders
Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult, even if you’re a beginner. You don’t have to undergo some kind of structured training or any studying. Besides, you’d only have to set aside around 20 minutes each day. It wouldn’t take too much time off your busy schedule. Remember, the busier you are, the more you need to set aside time to center yourself.
Besides its well-known benefits, many powerful female leaders use meditation because of the following three main reasons.
1) Meditation improves how your brain works
You’ve probably read about meditation’s many health benefits, such as pain management, lower blood pressure, and others, but one of the most significant benefits of meditation for leaders is that it can improve how your brain works. With regular mindfulness meditation, the amygdala—your brain’s region associated with emotions including fear, can actually shrink.
As the amygdala shrinks, your brain’s pre-frontal cortex, which is associated with planning, concentration, reasoning, and other forms of higher thinking, grows thicker. What’s remarkable is that changes in your brain can occur in just a couple of months of practicing mindful meditation.
For a leader who makes decisions, meets business challenges, manages many people, and other things that a leader does, practicing mindful meditation can be a game-changer.
2) It can help to relieve stress
A leader’s stress can hurt the whole team; it’s contagious. If your subordinates see you stressed, exhausted, and anxious, they’d also feel what you feel. A leader who can’t communicate in high-pressure situations can be demoralizing. Team members wouldn’t be able to trust and have confidence in you. Overall efficiency and productivity will suffer.
A major facet of leadership is inspiring and motivating the people who work for you. You’d want to project an air of confidence and competence. A tired stressed-out boss who wilts under pressure is of no use to anybody. If you react poorly, then as a leader you’d be affecting those who work with you. Their performance will be affected. What’s more, others who watch how you act will not only mirror the way you communicate, but could act in ways that damage results.
So, start working on keeping your stress level under control. As a leader, your actions will determine what the workplace culture is going to be. By meditating, you can train your mind to relax. It can guide both your mind and body to a calm state and prevents stress from triggering your negative emotions.
3) It helps to encourage genuine enthusiasm
A sincere and genuine enthusiasm for an idea or a project can be infectious. That’s why the best female leaders draw others in to support their ideas. They can be passionate and confident, and these characteristics will spread to others. And no, this isn’t one of those fake-it-’til-you-make-it situations. Your employees will most likely sense insincerity.
Capturing that sincere enthusiasm and drive is easier when you’ve fallen into the habit of practicing mindful meditation. It’s one of the secrets of successful female leaders.
Could meditation be right for you?
While the health benefits of meditation are well-established, meditation is particularly helpful to leaders because of the way it affects the brain and how it can relieve stress. It can turn you into a positive, optimistic leader who inspires the people around you.
If you haven’t started, remember to be patient—not only with the process, but with yourself as well. Getting into the habit of meditation is easier that way.