Meditation: Stress Management for High Achievers

Most of the leaders I know tend to deal with a fair amount of stress in some form or other in their daily lives, especially in attempting to keep a healthy balance between their work lives and their personal lives. Meditation is one very effective technique to help manage this stress successfully.

No, meditation isn’t a religion; and no, you don’t need to sit cross-legged in the lotus position to do it. It’s a way to relax and refresh your mind and re-focus your energy so you can feel better and be more productive. There is plenty of medical research to document these benefits.

It’s a great tool for stress management, and it beats the heck out of alcohol, drugs, and other options available. You can feel better anytime you want without needing these other aids for this purpose.

The basic idea is to turn off your internal dialog or self-talk (the voice that is constantly running in your head which is like “a wild monkey”) so you can relax and focus better. In addition, we in the Western world tend to overuse rational thinking and under use our feelings and intuition. Meditation allows you better access to these valuable tools for enhanced decision making, productivity, and happy living.

  • Choose a quiet place. While not essential, a quiet external environment can help to create a “quiet mind,” or internal environment.
  • Get in a relaxed, seated position. You can use the lotus position if you like or just sit in a comfortable chair. You can meditate lying down, but it usually results in sleep (“power napping” is another useful skill for high achievers, too)
  • Practice relaxed “belly breathing.” This is using long, relaxed breaths letting your lower abdomen, or “belly” rise and fall. Belly breathing tends to be more calming and relaxing than “chest breathing.”
  • Repeat a “mantra” over and over. Any word or phrase will suffice as a mantra, even a nonsense word. The idea is to occupy your mind by repeating a word or phrase that gives you a pleasurable feeling. One popular Eastern mantra is “Love is all there is.”
  • If you like, use visual imagery that makes you feel good. For example, sitting on the beach at dawn or dusk, sitting in a pleasant green meadow in the spring, or breathing in pure love with every breath.
  • Alternatively, just pay attention to your breathing. Some schools of meditation (especially Buddhist) just have you focus on your breath as you breathe in and out. Once again, the whole idea is to find a way to shut off your inner dialogue so you can relax and feel good.
  • 15-20 minutes morning and night is usually sufficient for most people to get the benefits. You certainly can meditate longer if you enjoy it.

High-Performance Habits

  1. Meditate regularly to increase your energy, well being, and focus
  2. Choose a quiet place and a relaxed seated posture.
  3. Practice relaxed “belly breathing,” repeat a favorite mantra, and imagine a pleasing scene if you like.
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