Ladies, do you meditate? I’ve never found the time to learn to meditate myself, always considering it a luxury — but I just got back from an alumni networking event that featured a lot of mini-talks about the benefits of meditation for business women, lawyers, and other executives, and now I’m kind of fascinated. Did you realize that when done right, you’re literally changing the physical structure of your brain (a concept called neuroplasticity)?
I’m still looking into it, but here’s what strikes me as some of the best benefits of meditation and a “mindfulness practice”:
More focus, less brain fog. Appreciating the moment is a struggle for me, even when I’m around my kids — I always feel like I have to be taking pictures or writing down their silly quotes and so forth — and studies show that meditation can help your brain be more still and learn to appreciate the moment. One of the speakers (an engineering professor!) talked about the “flashlight effect” with your attention — the ability to shine your flashlight on what you want to is a learned skill.
It can make you more resilient. He also talked about how this flashlight effect can sort of be a way of framing your successes and failures, as well as setting your intentions (as well as your attention), such as when he counsels his Type A students to focus on succeeding — not on avoiding failure. (Subtle but important shift in thinking, right?)
It doesn’t have to be super difficult. I had always worried that meditation required, like, weeks of dedicated study followed by a daily, hour-long “mindfulness practice.” When I would try to meditate and become overwhelmed by all of the thoughts scampering around in my little head, I worried I was “doing it wrong.” But one of the videos we saw was from the Headspace app, which noted that that’s actually normal — the object isn’t a clear mind, per se, but to detach from the busyness of your mind. (The 2-minute video shows a little cowboy sitting in the middle of traffic. watching his thoughts go by.) Another speaker was a psychologist who led us through guided meditations — and they got easier the more we did! The 2-minute one was super difficult for a lot of the women in the room, but somehow the 10-minute one passed quickly. She noted that if we had a thought clamoring for our attention we could label it, then let it go (e.g., “stress,” “anxiety,” “sadness”), and kept bringing us back to our breathing. Some of the other things she encouraged for “mini-mindfulness exercises” were things like “notice 5 things about this room that you haven’t noticed before.” (So yes, in theory, you might even be able to meditate on your rush hour in that you could be more mindful while stuck in traffic or riding the subway.) Headspace starts guided sessions at just 3 minutes!
Ladies, do you meditate or otherwise try to be mindful? Where (and when) did you start? Do you have any favorite guided meditations, either on YouTube or in podcasts, or apps such as Headspace? What benefits have YOU gotten from meditation or a mindfulness practice?