The Power of Stillness
HEART OF THE MATTER
GET BUSY BEING STILL
There’s a lot of research to substantiate that being still, quiet, meditation, day dreaming, whatever you want to call it – makes the quality of our lives BETTER!
I honestly have to admit that I think the 7 days I spend alone on Lake Ouachita every year have a significant amount to do with how much I get done the rest of the year. If I were the most gifted wordsmith in the world, I still wouldn’t be able to put into words how those 7 days completely unwind and diffuse me. (See, I just can’t find the words that are BIG ENOUGH to explain how significant they are…) I get to such a calm and centered place. I go so deep into my nothingness that it many ways it sustains me throughout the year.
I also do one ‘Pilgrim Day’ a month. A day when I eschew technology of all types. I only allow myself what the pilgrims might have had – books, conversations, simple food, walks in nature. Time to connect to myself without all the trappings of this modern day world.
And because I believe that stillness is cumulative, I believe when you get still today, you’re connecting to all the stillness and quiet times you’ve had in your life. The more you get still, the more stillness you get!
Enough of my personal musings, on to the research!
According to the Harvard Business Review a team of scientists from British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology pooled data from more than 20 studies on meditation to determine how the brain was affected. They found 8 regions of the brain were significantly affected by as little as 8 weeks of meditation. There are two areas that are significant for those of us in business.
The first area of the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex or ACC. The ACC is located deep inside the forehead behind the frontal lobe. It showed more activity in meditators than non-meditators. It’s function? It’s associated with self-regulation. Self-regulation meaning the ability to PURPOSEFULLY direct our attention and behavior, suppress inappropriate knee-jerk responses and switch strategies flexibly! How much more effective could you be on a daily basis if you enhanced your ability to do all that?
The other major area of the brain that’s affected is the hippocampus. It’s a seahorse shaped area inside the temple on each side of the brain. It’s covered with the stress hormone cortisol and can be damaged with high stress. What’s significant about meditation, is that in a 2011 study where participants meditated for 30 minutes a day (using a guided meditation), in comparing brain scans before and after the 8 weeks of daily meditation – their brains showed ‘significant increases’ in grey matter as compared to the control group. (if you’re a research geek like me, you can read the whole study HERE).
Grey matter serves to process information in the brain. The more grey matter, the better! The hippocampus really regulates our resiliency – another key skill needed in our current high-demand business world.
Want more research that there are big payoffs for meditation? Go google it! J There are thousands of articles that will support the need for, the value in and the payoffs for meditation!
And how do you do it? Well, years and years ago, I created a simple little book to help people who were new to the world of meditation. I broke it down into 10 easy steps. In fact, I think the first copyright on this little booklet was 2008 – that was before some of the research studies I mentioned above were even completed! You can access that book HERE. If you’re a pen-and-paper, still-like-to-hold-a-book-in-my-hand kinda person, this booklet is for you.
If you’re techy, there are all kinds of apps you can use on your phone. I don’t think these were available when I wrote that little booklet above either! If the thought of just sitting in a chair and breathing without any assistance freaks you out – try the Insight Timer. They have guided meditations so you will have someone there leading you through the meditation.
Another option is to do a Walking Meditation. In a Walking Meditation you measure off a certain area – roughly 10 yards long, but any distance will do. Then you DELIBERATELY walk that area, back and forth, in focus. Focusing on the breath. Focusing on a spot in front of you (not your feet.) And when your mind wanders, just bring it back! And don’t discount a walking meditation as not as effective as sitting. The juice comes from the mind, not the body!
Whatever you decide is best for you – the most important thing is just that you do it, and do it consistently!
Now off with you – to do a little bit of nothing!
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ~Old Zen Saying
“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ~Herman Hesse
“The quieter you become the more you can hear.” ~ Ram Dass
“Learning how to be still, to be really still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance.” ~Morgan Freeman
“Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river.” ~Lao Tse Tung
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, even you.” ~Anne Lamott
“Life is available only in the present moment.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
“Rest when you are weary, refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind and spirit. Then get back to work.” ~Ralph Marston
“Every now and then, go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be so much surer. ~Leonardo DaVinci
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” ~William Burroughs
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” ~Pema Chodron
Here’s a great 5 minute video that focuses on one minute meditation. If you’re a novice, this is a great place to start. You’ll actually meditate for a minute right in the middle of it! Enjoy!
I love me some Ted Talks! THIS ONE is only 15 minutes and worth the time. Pico Iyer on the Art of Stillness!
Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness. In our world of constant movement and distraction, he teases out strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day, or a few days out of every season. It’s the talk for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the demands for our world.
Want to read a laugh-out-loud book on meditation that pulls no punches, doesn’t sugar coat how tough it is, and will delightfully convince you that if he can do it, you can too? I both read this book and listened to it on audible. Awesome both ways! You can find it on Amazon. Enjoy!
10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.
Download your MODULE THREE Mini-Poster by clicking the image. Print it on regular 8.5 x 11 paper and hang it in your office, bathroom, breakroom or wherever you and your team will see it daily.
Download MODULE THREE’s Dash of Success by clicking the image. Remember it’s for your car’s dashboard so it will print in reverse image. Trim it to size, lay it on your dashboard and the image will reflect to read correctly and inspire you every time you get into your car.
End on a Smile -This is a moving meditation of nature just to make your smile. Click on the image and enjoy!