By: Kristi Spargo
I am not a trendsetter. I am not even a trend follower. I’ve been known to quit listening to bands once they become popular and although it’s 2018, I still haven’t gotten over my fear of Facebook. There is one trend, however, that has completely captivated me: mindfulness through meditation. I understand that the vast majority of our readers are Type A meeting planners, executives and generally speaking, people that might not picture themselves taking a 10-minute break in the busy association world to seek their Zen. But before commencing the hippie talk requisite eye roll, at least consider the legitimacy of this trend.
Life undeniably has a tendency to beat people down. As soon as one area seems to improve another area begins to crumble. I felt as though I spent the majority of my time trying to catch and repair all of the falling pieces and unbeknownst to me, my feet were slowly sinking in quicksand. I realized that I can’t predict nor change everything that will be thrown at me, but I can better prepare myself to deal with it. I started to eat healthier, exercise more and get better sleep. Then my friend recommended the Calm meditation app. My first thought, ‘that sounds stupid.’ But she hit a trigger word, ‘free.’ While this is a paid app, there are a lot of free trial sessions, so my second thought was, ‘what do I have to lose.’
At first I felt silly, sitting in my chair trying to focus and listen to my own breath. I know what breathing sounds like and I also know I have 20 more emails that just flooded in. Yet once I started consistently practicing I was thoroughly surprised at the positive impact it beget. I learned techniques to physically respond better to anxiety and most importantly recognized that it’s a ten-minute investment into me. Not going to lie; sitting quietly breathing and focusing on my physical and mental being without the computer screen, music, and buzzing phone at first felt like a lifetime. But then I thought about how quickly ten minutes goes by during the workday or when checking off evening chores and I realized, it’s so little in the overall scheme of the day yet offers wide-ranging reward.
Training your body with meditation techniques can be useful in those stressful work moments. Recall the tension felt in a board meeting when a highly contentious topic comes up for debate; the moment when the keynote speaker’s presentation freezes on screen; the seemingly never-ending employee meeting that is filled with trivial complaints. These are opportunities to take a deep breath, re-focus, reduce nervous reactions and avoid long-term internalization of stress. It’s about realizing you can’t control what happens but you can control your reaction to it.
And for those science-minded folk that skimmed through the first few paragraphs, I challenge you to do your research. There are scientific studies that prove that meditation helps reduce fatigue, anxiety and depression and also improves cognition and concentration. Invest the time to teach yourself how to better handle and adjust to life’s curveballs. Speaking as a Type A with hippie tendencies, it’s so worth it.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
~ Alan Watts