By Dr. Larry D. Parker, Jr.
Department Chair, Supply Chain Management, Contracting and Acquisition (SCA)

Meditation is the act of thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind for a period of time, and there are many benefits to meditating regularly. According to Healthline, there are 12 science-based benefits to meditation. It can help us:

  • Reduce stress
  • Control anxiety
  • Improve our emotional health
  • Enhance our self-awareness
  • Lengthen our attention span
  • Reduce age-related memory loss
  • Generate kindness
  • Fight addictions
  • Improve our sleep
  • Control pain
  • Decrease blood pressure

Meditation also has the additional benefit of being accessible everywhere.

The Use of Meditation Is Rising and Is a Useful Way to Combat the Stress of COVID-19

Karen Kaplan, science and medicine editor for the LA Times, published a 2018 article regarding an increase in the number of adults practicing meditation. Kaplan noted, “A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 14.2% of American adults surveyed in 2017 said they had practiced meditation at least once in the last year. That means it rivals yoga as the most popular type of complementary health practice in the United States. It’s a dramatic change from 2012, when only 4.1% of adults said they practiced meditation.”

As we currently struggle to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more therapeutic practices are necessary to help us de-stress and unwind. Meditation can help us to combat stress, both in the workplace and at home.

Headspace reminds us that during this time, physical health isn’t the only thing we should be keeping track of. Headspace observes, “It is important to keep in mind that our mental health absolutely affects our physical health, and — crucially — our immune systems. For example, when we are stressed, depressed, or anxious, our sleep is affected, and chronic sleep deprivation is linked to obesity and diabetes, as well as many other health issues. Poor sleep also weakens the immune system.” Meditation can be very useful in helping us to minimize sleep disorders, depression, anxiety and loneliness.

Related link: Maintaining Physical and Mental Health during the Holidays

Why Isn’t Meditation Used More in Business?

With the easy availability of meditation, why isn’t everyone meditating? From a company’s viewpoint, why are employees not encouraged to take a few moments to meditate?

In a Harvard Business Review article “Can 10 Minutes of Meditation Make You More Creative?” written by researchers Emma Schootstra, Dirk Deichmann and Evgenia Dolgova, the authors point out that meditation can enhance creativity by opening one’s mind to more possibilities and ideas. Even creative people experience writer’s block and a lack of new ideas. But meditation can help one to focus and bring about new thoughts that can lead in different directions.

Schoostra, Deichmann and Dolgova note that “mindfulness meditation helps to increase creativity and innovation,” enabling the meditator to have not only a more open mind but a more positive one as well. If you have a bad day, bad week or even a bad year, for instance, the negatives are what you tend to dwell on during the day.

But if your mind and body are calm, you’re better able to see and experience the positives that are occurring in your life. The three authors also say that “ten to twelve minutes are enough to boost creativity,” so meditating for an extended period isn’t necessary.

Can you meditate for much longer than 10 minutes? Of course. I’ve read numerous articles about how long a person should meditate, but the consensus is that the focus shouldn’t be on the quantity but on the quality.

If you can meditate for an hour and be in your own peaceful space, go for it. However, if you find yourself struggling after 10, 20, or 30 minutes and your body and mind have become restless, a shorter period of meditation is more beneficial for you.

Schoostra, Deichmann and Dolgova conducted an experiment using a test group of meditators against two groups who didn’t meditate. Ultimately, they found that “most participants reported that meditation helped them clear their minds, focus more on the task at hand, and come up with original solutions.” Companies could capitalize on this idea by implementing a 10-minute meditation session to break up the stress, tension and lack of forward thinking brought on by a heavy workload.

Related link: Why the COVID-19 Pandemic Should Change Business Leadership

How to Meditate

There are many meditation apps out there, such as Headspace. If you’d rather try meditation on your own, here are the suggested steps from Schoostra, Deichmann and Dolgova:

  1. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed.
  2. Sit in a comfortable position and set a timer.
  3. Gently close your eyes.
  4. Ask yourself what you are currently experiencing, and observe your feelings, sensations, and thoughts.
  5. Shift your attention to your body and spend a moment or two zooming in on the sensations in places that touch the chair or floor.
  6. Shift attention to your belly and observe your sensations. Focus on how it extends and falls with every breath.
  7. Observe your breathing some more without changing it.
  8. At some moment, your mind will naturally wander away.
  9. When you realize that your mind is no longer in the present, recognize it as a moment of awareness and shift your attention back to your breathing.
  10. Now focus on your whole body, observing your posture and face. When you are ready — or when the timer reminds you that you should get back to work — open your eyes.

About the Author

Dr. Parker currently serves as the Department Chair, Supply Chain Management, Contracting and Acquisition (SCA) within the School of Business. He serves as an adjunct faculty for various universities around the world. Dr. Parker is a native of Temple, Texas, a certified Inspector General by the Association of Inspector Generals, and a proud member of professional organizations advancing knowledge and professionalism, such as the Association of Supply Chain Management and the National Naval Officers Association.

Dr. Parker is a published author, inspirational speaker, consummate entrepreneur, and consultant who speaks worldwide on diversity, inclusion, and leadership. He holds a Ph.D. in organization and management from Capella University, a MBA from Liberty University, and a B.A. in history from Wittenberg University. Dr. Parker has a long history of passion and interest in local communities and is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Learn more about Dr. Parker by visiting Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr. Inspires.

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