Something changed the moment six years ago when Jason Garner’s mother, sick with stomach cancer, took her last breath in his arms.
After mourning her death, Garner, then 37, returned to his job at event promotion giant Live Nation, where he served as chief executive of the concert division. He didn’t last another year there.
“I realized how much of my life had been subconsciously driven to make my mom proud, to make society proud, to do something, to be a good boy,” Garner, now 42, told The Huffington Post in an interview this week. “I realized there had to be something more. This emptiness and lack of fulfillment I was feeling -- there had to be something more.”
He embarked on a spiritual journey, meditating in the Shaolin Monastery in China and connecting with himself. Now running a consultancy from his home in Manhattan Beach, California, he has devoted himself to teaching business people how to meditate and find inner balance between work needs and personal, spiritual ones.
“As business leaders, we know that if we don’t take care of our workforce, we end up with a sick and diseased workforce,” said Garner, who authored a book on his experience titled … And I Breathed. “The same thing is true with the workforce that are the cells of our bodies. When we nurture them, they respond.”
Each year, American companies lose an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion because of issues related to workers' stress. Meditation can help. Meditating for just 25 minutes a day for three days in a row can decrease how much of the stress hormone cortisol the body emits, according to a 2014 study by Carnegie Mellon University.
Not everyone has the luxury of quitting a high-paying job to find inner peace on the other side of the planet, though. Fortune magazine twice featured Garner on its annual list of the highest-paid executives under 40. Near the end of his Live Nation tenure, he oversaw global tours by such musical acts as Madonna and The Police.
“Luckily, I had worked really hard my entire young life,” he said. “So I was able to put that money to really good use on taking care of myself and discovering these things about myself.”
But finding spiritual balance doesn’t require a Chinese monastery or a full-time commitment to meditation, he said.
“The idea of balance sounds like, if I spend 10 to 12 hours a day working, do I need to spend 10 to 12 hours a day doing some of these monk-like activities? No way,” Garner said. “There’s some really powerful activities that you can build into your daily routine.”
Start the morning with meditation, for instance. Practice yoga after work. Eat nutritious meals.
He compared mending a relationship with the body to making up after clashing with a boss at work.
“If you stopped by the boss’s office and said, hey look let’s smooth things over, they’d say OK and you’d move forward,” he said. “It’s never too late.”