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Increase Your Focus and Gain a Competitive Edge

By Alan Gehringer

    Tue, Feb 28, 2017 @ 09:00 AM Strategy Execution

    Getting more focused, more productive, and more accountable. Increase Focus and Gain Competitive Edge

    We all talk about doing this as a New Year's Resolution for our companies. But we rarely focus on ourselves as a major component in the overall energy of the business, possibly because we are so busy simply trying to get things done and run the business. What can you do to gain a competitive edge in 2017?

    The list is very long. However, there is was one thing I would strongly encourage. It is something that is on my list to get better at this year, although I realize that I am going to have to devote more time to the practice. You may have guessed it. I am talking about meditation.

    The Benefits

    There have been hundreds of studies of the effectiveness of meditation on the mind, body, and spirit. For brevity, I am not going to list all of them.

    Still, there are some truly convincing points of what meditation can do:

    • Lessens anxiety, impulsiveness, stress and depression
    • Improves self-esteem and self-worth
    • Develops emotional intelligence
    • Strengthens mental focus and neuroplasticity
    • Increases memory retention and recall
    • Heightens decision-making abilities
    • Lowers blood pressure
    • Aids in autoimmune disorders and inflammatory disorders
    • Bolsters the immune systems
    • Spikes your energy levels

    (These benefits are derived from the following sources: ScienceDaily, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (1) [and 2], NCBI, and The American Journal of Psychiatry.)

    In layman’s terms, meditation teaches us how to use our minds to overcome challenges. Meditation brings us to that place in our bodies where we can put things into perspective because all the distractions from the world are being filtered out. When you manage the business, there are countless distractions and many people get caught up in fighting the fires burning around them. This is precisely why you need meditation. A quieted mind is so, so advantageous and a lot more powerful. 

    Tips and Tricks for Beginning Meditation

    Meditation can be done virtually anywhere. Even if you only have 10 minutes during your lunch break, you can still meditate. The simplest form of meditation is breathing (known by yogis as pranayama). Yes, you focus solely on your breath.

    Here are some tips to get started:

    • Get comfortable. Before doing anything, find ease. Sit and relax. Some people have meditation cushions, called a zafu, which keeps your spine aligned. Slumping is bad for the vibes. It is fine to sit with legs crossed or uncrossed. Hands folded, palms up or down. Do what feels natural and open for you.
    • Create a ritual. Some people set up a candle and a timer. Others begin by turning on music. Do something that can be repeated. This action will become a signal to the mind that it is “meditation time.”
    • Focus on your breath. Focus on the feeling of the breath. Focus on where it begins and ends. Use the natural rhythm of your breath like you would a wave in the ocean. Let the wave carry you farther and farther away from the shores, distancing yourself from thoughts. 
    • Notice when your attention wanders from the breath. Ideally, you do not want to think about anything. Just let the body feel, let the brain settle, and try not to influence these processes. When you wander, do not think of this as a failure. Note why you drifted away from noticing the breath then return to that stillness. This process may repeat often, depending on the state of your mind. Be kind to yourself.

    The most important part of your meditation practice is to start small. A few minutes a day in a quiet space is all you need. Choose a time that is best for you for practice. Once you get better at calming the mind, you can start to incorporate the practice into other moments of your life.

    Good luck, and I wish you a prosperous year, Alan

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    Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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