When you hear the names Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Marc Benioff, Ray Dalio or Arianna Huffington, the words that may come to your mind are "successful," "visionary," "genius," "rich," "powerful," etc. But what if you were to add one more to the list: meditator? In fact, these influencers have been meditating for years and credit it for much of their success.
I'm a serial entrepreneur and have been a meditator for the last couple of years. There was a phase during my first startup when things got really rough. We were a part of a Stanford incubator program, and I was ranting to a friend and fellow entrepreneur about the issues we were facing. That's when he introduced me to meditation. I wanted to spend every waking moment trying to get things back on track at work, and here a guy was telling me to sit for 40 minutes to an hour every day doing nothing!
However, as I heard more about the benefits and transformation he had experienced, I decided to give it a shot. I knew deep down that if I did not change my routine for the better, I ran the risk of experiencing burnout. It took a little bit of getting used to, but I saw immediate benefits, and the journey has been nothing short of a life-changing experience.
Plenty of studies conducted at top institutes prove the measurable benefits of meditation. Here are several benefits I've personally experienced that can be hugely beneficial for any entrepreneur:
Better Quality of Sleep
One of the immediate effects and biggest benefits of meditation can be an improvement in your quality of sleep. As an entrepreneur, I was becoming an insomniac, but as I practiced meditation more regularly, my quality of sleep improved tremendously, and it reflected in my energy levels during the day. It's amazing how a good night's rest can exponentially improve your productivity.
Calm, Relaxed, Stress-Controlled Aura
As entrepreneurs, we invest blood, sweat and everything in between to pursue our passion, and we're responsible for everything that happens to our venture. A lot of times, things aren't in our control, yet we're still responsible; that's just the nature of the job. As a result, stress, anxiety, confusion, frustration and helplessness are emotions that become very familiar. Meditation can help reduce the occurrence of these emotions. Over time, you'll became more self-aware and you'll be better able to control your emotions. Your stress won't disappear, but you'll learn how to manage it better.
Since I was CEO, this had a positive, cascading effect on my entire organization. As research has shown, meditation is associated with increased cortical thickness of the brain and a decrease in negative dimensions of psychological stress.
Clarity of Thought and Improved Decision-Making
Entrepreneurs are expected to deal with ambiguity and imperfect information all the time. This is because we are always trying to challenge the status quo -- making room for a lot of first attempts. Indecisiveness can be a big inhibitor to success, and meditation can help you reduce all that mind chatter to develop a better clarity of thought. This leads to improved and more streamlined decision-making.
Through meditation, I'm able to make decisions quickly and present a strong rationale for my decisions. This has positively impacted my product management skills, and has enabled me to successfully launch multiple products. I'm able to make sound product decisions based on customer feedback, which enables us to iterate and release new feature sets quickly.
Heightened Creativity and Innovation
Meditation can also help your intuition become stronger over time. Some of my best ideas have come to me during or immediately after my meditation practice. As my instructor explained, this is because meditation allows the mind to enter a deep state of rest. You decompress, declutter and let go of all the thoughts that are clouding your mind. As a result, you create room for fresh thoughts and ideas. You can come up with your greatest insights when you're in a more meditative and relaxed state of mind.
Increased Positivity and Sense of Well Being
Oftentimes, I used to take a reactive stance while fighting fires at work. Meditation helped me deal with this same stimuli in a more positive manner. I've developed a "solutions" mindset and have become better at assessing worst-case scenarios and moving on rather than worrying about future outcomes. Almost always, the final outcome is never as bad as we predict. Regular meditation ingrains that perspective inside you. The highs and lows become more normalized. According to Transcendental Meditation, meditators have a far greater clarified gamma output (positive feelings like love and happiness).
Meditating regularly has transformed my worldview, helping me become more self-aware and present. It's as if you develop an inner witness that monitors your attention, thoughts and emotions at all times. In the same way that regular exercise is necessary for a healthy body, regular meditation is essential for a vibrant, healthy mind. I strongly recommend all entrepreneurs give it a try.
Karan Chaudhry is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Comnplus and DropThought.