Meditation carries many hidden benefits. People know that it’s great for relieving stress, building attention span and cultivating self-knowledge. Yet meditation also brings many other hidden benefits that can directly help improve your workplace performance. Here are three of those ways:
1. Reciprocated Warmth and Compassion
Numerous studies have shown that meditation increases compassion. In fact, neuroscientists have done brain scans showing this precise phenomena in action. This can have a big impact on your ability to lead. How?
It comes down to reciprocated warmth. Renowned leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (authors of The Leadership Challenge) examined hundreds of leaders and found that there was really just one thing that separated the top 25 percent of leaders from the rest. They tended to be warmer and more compassionate towards their co-workers.
In turn, others were more compassionate towards them as well. They cultivated teams with real bonds, with them as the glue that held the teams together. Meditation lets you systematically develop compassion, which in turn helps you build high performing teams that love working with you.
2. Identify and Eliminate Patterns
Most of everyday life is a pattern. The way you wake up, the way you get dressed, the way you drive to work, even your daily schedule. Patterns are an essential tool your brain uses to manage a highly complex life.
However, some patterns just aren’t useful. These could be emotional patterns, like getting stressed every time you see your inbox. It could be interpersonal patterns, like getting easily sidetracked in meetings. It could be performance patterns, like the tendency to work on urgent tasks while ignoring important, but not urgent long-term activities.
Most people never step outside their daily grind to take a bird’s eye view of their life, their habits and what’s unconsciously driving them. Meditation helps you do that. Meditation helps you detect unproductive patterns, understand how they work and ultimately unwind them. Once that happens, you’ll automatically become permanently more effective.
3. Unfreeze Your Brain
On any given work day, there’s a tug of war going on in your brain. It’s between your hypothalamus, which manages your “fight or flight” response, and your prefrontal cortex.
When more blood flow and more activity flows to your prefrontal cortex, you are in control. You guide your actions. You feel productive. Yet, when your mind feels like it’s under attack, your hypothalamus grabs the ropes and takes over. It literally hijacks the blood supply running to the rest of your brain, making it nearly impossible to concentrate.
That’s why it’s so hard to think of your speech when you’re in front of a live audience. That’s why when you’re stressed over a looming deadline, you start dropping balls. The part of your brain that handles complex tasks has been all but turned off.
Meditation lets you reverse this process. You gradually lessen the hold your hypothalamus has on you. You learn to let your prefrontal cortex drive, even in seemingly stressful situations. That in turn boosts your effectiveness, especially during critical projects.