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The Power of Meditation: Misunderstandings and Payoff

Alyse Hart

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Meditation or any kind of "letting go" or "downshifting" isn't passive -- it's active. It's a skill and you can learn it. When you do, you vaccinate yourself against burn-out and grow in resilience. Kobe Bryant preached Mamba Mindset. He was always about bettering yourself and it's a skill-like any other. There's a little learning curve and effort on the front end-big payoff after. Meditating (mindful or moving), TM or guided isn't about pushing, chasing or grasping, nor is it about emptying your mind and sitting cross-legged on a lotus leaf. It is an effective way to deal with the velocity of everyday life and will transform you in a positive way.

It's common to think meditating or achieving flow state is hard or weird if you haven't found it. Finding flow, a phrase coined in the 1970s, means feeling totally absorbed. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (a Hungarian American Psychologist recognized for the concept of flow, a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity) was best known for his book Flow. He also wrote Good Business: Leadership, Flow and the Making of Meaning. It's all about full engagement and enjoyment. Athletes call it the zone. You've seen it on the basketball court or with tennis players, golfers and guitarists, too. You experience "all in" when you are so immersed that you lose track of time and don't feel worn out. You feel satisfied.

If you're one of the many who feels you might die if you stop, lose your edge or get run over, rest assured it's not true. We're already getting run over by our own redundant thoughts that we can't stop. The world won't slow down but we can learn to implement periodic slowdowns and start a new habit. Think of it as an upgrade in your system. So just like we go to Starbucks for a quick espresso, this will rebalance us. Unlike coffee, which I adore, you won't have the crash - with a few taps in key places you can shift your mood and energy for a more smooth energized feeling. I like to explain it like this: Your mind might feel like Manhattan and, post-practice, you feel more like Malibu.

High achievers with decades of sustained success have a practice -- some kind of something for mastery that delivers calm, quiets the inner voices, redirects energy and intention and pace them. They may not flaunt it, but you can be sure they self-regulate in some way. Essentially mindfulness, meditation, and movement makes you bulletproof, more resilient. It's all about personal leadership and self-mastery. You come back to meditation or a practice because it's reliable, it gives you a break, a reset lowers blood pressure and cortisol and lets you not only feel equanimity but single-focused all-in immersion. Athletes call it the "zone." It's an effortless power that gives you a super advantage to others running themselves ragged.

The days of going to a studio, changing your clothes, and dedicating an hour to a practice are long gone. It was a construct of gyms to justify their membership dues for classes. Being in a community, doing any of this has its place and I still love being with my posse twice a week for longer practices, to be with like-minded people, and for my dose of communal care. (I am so over self-care-too lonely and just another obligation.)

Today we need to be masters at integrating breaks and boosts into our lives, like interval training we do at the gym. They must be reliable, repeatable, results-driven and seamlessly incorporated into your demanding life. This is how you boost inner power, peak performance. Once you learn how to induce or invite this optimized state for a few minutes a day, you will want more. Your chemistry will change. The benefits are: quieter inner critic, more confidence, inspiration, freer breathing, relaxed body (tightness gives way to available energy). We're in a wild time, leaders are needed in your home, community, and at work, and you can be the change. Who can't use more good days and who doesn't want that?

Don't miss Alyse's next Energy Management Coaching Circle this Thursday!

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