Meditation is Hot Today
By Corinne McLaughlin
Did you know that top managers at Google
learn meditation techniques—not to become more peaceful, but rather to
speed up and become more creative? The program is called “Search Inside
Did you know that Al Gore meditates regularly and that an Ohio
Congressman, Tim Ryan, recently toured the country promoting meditation
in his new book “A Mindful Nation”?
Did you know that everyone from the U.S. Marines to stars like Richard
Gere, Madonna and Goldie Hawn practice meditation?
Time Magazine reported in 2003 that over 10 million Americans practice
meditation, and the numbers have probably doubled since then. I’ve been
teaching meditation for over 30 years and I’m very happy that meditation
has finally been embraced by the mainstream culture. Now people no
longer think I’m weird, as they did 15 years ago in Washington D.C. when
I was teaching classes on Creative Meditation at the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and elsewhere.
But more importantly, many people can now more easily discover this
powerful, ancient approach for finding inner peace amidst the crises and
intensities of modern life. And when you begin a regular practice of
meditation, you’ll experience a transcendent spiritual Presence in the
stillness. You’ll raise your frequency and so experience a new sense of
well-being and authentic happiness. With all the warp speed karma
cleaning going on today, we can all use some positive support. And at
the same time, you’ll discover that meditation is ultimately a powerful
form of service for helping humanity.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation taps us into a sense of hope
for the future--which we especially need today---and provides
inspirational ideas for creating a better world. Meditation helps to
reduce stress, and develops a sense of inner peace, joy, and strength.
Scientific tests have shown that meditation can lower your blood
pressure, improve your memory and creativity, and strengthen your immune
Scientists like Dr. Richard Davidson at
the University of Wisdom have proven that meditation produces more gamma
activity in the brain which leads to a greater sense of happiness and
On a spiritual level, meditation
strengthens your intuition, opens your heart, and helps clear out
negative emotions. It helps you purify and discipline your mind,
awakening and freeing it in order to directly perceive reality or
truth. Meditation helps you develop detachment from your physical and
emotional reactions to outer events, through what’s called “the stance
of the observer.” And most importantly, meditation strengthens your
alignment with your soul and helps you discover your higher purpose in
the New Technologies
Recently I’ve been using Skype,
GoToWebinar and other teleconference tools to link up in meditation with
colleagues around the world for peace and healing. How cool is it that
the oldest technologies like meditation are now being amplified by the
Amazingly, I’ve found that you can
create almost as strong a meditative energy field with people through
the internet or on a teleconference call as you can meditating together
in person. Maybe it’s because you’re linking more subjectively with
each other through the heart, higher mind and soul, and holding a clear
intention about the purpose of the meditation—to be of service to the
world in some way. For example, I was on a teleconference with over
2,000 people during the Gulf Oil Spill for a meditation to hold a clear
intention of stopping the spill and healing the natural environment. It
was amazingly powerful, and shortly afterward, the company which caused
the spill was final able to cap the leaking well.
Did you know there’s now hundreds of
relaxing meditation apps for your cell phone, computer, iPod, etc.?
Just Google “meditation apps”—it will blow your mind. But that’s the
point of meditation anyway, isn’t it—going beyond the mind?
There are now many businesses (as well
as government agencies) that have created a meditation room to allow
employees to meditate, pray or just sit in the silence. I researched
many specific companies that are using meditation and other spiritual
approaches at work in my book, The Practical Visionary. They are
bringing meditation techniques, such as mindfulness, into their
company’s leadership development, human resources and learning
departments as they’ve found it leads to greater focus and
creativity—and it helps the bottom line. (These are publicly held
corporations, after all, so they have to focus on profits.)
have been held at many major corporations, such as Medtronic, Apple,
Google, Yahoo, McKinsey, Hughes Aircraft, IBM, Hughes Aircraft, Cisco,
and Raytheon. Twitter offers Introduction to Meditation courses arranged
by its director of Leadership and Development. Genetech, a major
international biotech company in Silicon Valley, offers a course called
“Personal Excellence” that teaches mindfulness meditation. Instead of
calling it “meditation,” they call it a “3-Point check-in: head, heart,
body.” Todd Pierce, the Senior VP and CIO who spoke at a Wisdom 2.0
conference in Silicon Valley trained his whole IT department in
meditation. Even after a company merger, the people he trained were much
happier than people in other departments.
Medtronic, which sells medical equipment,
pioneered a meditation center at headquarters 20 years ago, and it
remains open to all employees today.
Apple Computer’s offices in California have a
meditation room and employees are actually given a half hour a day on
company time to meditate or pray, as they find it improves productivity
and creativity. A former manager who is now a Buddhist monk leads
regular meditations there. Aetna International Chairman Michael A.
Stephen praises the benefits of meditation and talks with Aetna
employees about using spirituality in their careers.
Prentice-Hall publishing company created a
meditation room at their headquarters which they call the “Quiet Room”,
where employees can sit quietly and take a mental retreat when they feel
too much stress on the job. Sounds True in Colorado, which produces
audio and video tapes, has a meditation room, meditation classes and
begins meetings with a moment of silence. Employees can take Personal
Days to attend retreats or pursue other spiritual interests. Greystone
Bakery in upstate New York has a period of meditative silence before
meetings begin so people can get in touch with their inner state and
focus on the issues to be discussed.
project by Prof. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin studied
Pomega, a biotechnology company that had a very high-stress workplace,
and found a mindfulness meditation training produced astonishing results
in reducing stress and generating positive feelings.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., a former
professor of medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School and
an acclaimed pioneer in the use of meditation for healing, says
meditation is now being used in hundreds of schools, hospitals, and even
According to a study at Harvard Business
School published in The Harvard Business Review, business owners
credit 80% of their success to acting on their intuition, which can be
strengthened by meditation.
So if you’re feeling anxious about the
future, what better way to understand what lies ahead than to meditate
and strengthen your intuition and vision. And if you’re feeling more
peaceful from your meditation practice, you’ll help create a more
peaceful world for all of us—and a better future.
Meditation Techniques for the Home or Office:
Establishing a regular rhythm with your
meditation is essential. Ten minutes each day is better than an hour
every once in awhile, as it creates a regular habit pattern and rhythm.
Morning is best, as you are fresher at that time, and not yet caught up
in the day’s activities. Meditation in the morning sets the right note
for the day. It connects you with higher spiritual energies and a sense
of purpose. If you are just learning to meditate, the maximum length
should be about thirty minutes. If you’re at work and can’t take time
to meditate, just pause for a minute, take a few deep breaths and invite
a sense of peace to fill you. It’s amazing what even a short meditative
break can do.
It’s best to take a scientific approach
to meditation -- experiment with different techniques and study the
results. Proceed slowly and with caution. Meditation should be in
balance as part of the rhythm of daily living. Observe the effects on
your life. Here’s some key steps that you might find helpful for
1. Align your posture and relax your
physical body. It’s best to
sit up straight with your chakras or energy centers perpendicular to
gravity. If you lie down, you may become too relaxed and fall asleep.
Your hands can be folded in lap, or with palms up or down on your
thighs. Your eyes should be closed, or if this is uncomfortable, leave
them open and focus on one thing in front of you. You can tighten up
each muscle group, beginning with your neck and shoulders, and then
relax it (or you can do stretching exercises or yoga before meditation
to relax your body). Appreciate and send love to your physical,
emotional and mental bodies before you begin the meditation, holding an
attitude of cooperation, rather than suppression, of each aspect of your
personality. It’s important to stay relaxed, yet aware and awake.
2. Focus on your breath.
Breathing in peace and stillness, and exhaling any tensions or worries.
Deep breathing helps energize you as you bring in more prana or
life force. Create a regular rhythm of inbreath, holding the breath,
then outbreath. You can count to seven as you breathe in, hold it for a
few moments, and then exhale to the count of seven (or whatever rhythm
works best for you) and release the cares of the day each time you
exhale. If your mind wanders and you become distracted, always come
back to the breath. With each breath, allow yourself to become lighter
and more expanded. Experience the pause between the breaths expanding
3. Calm your emotions.
Observe your feelings, as if you’re watching a movie -- the melodrama of
your own life. Become a detached observer, just noticing what’s going
on, without reacting or judging it.
If you’re experiencing fear or anger or
negative emotions, you can transform them by seeing your feelings as a
ball of energy in your solar plexus chakra (at your navel). Visualize
moving this energy upward to your heart, in order to transform these
feelings into positive, loving energy. You can actually see it as a
ball of energy, or you can just hold the intention of moving the energy
up to your heart.
Another technique for calming your
emotions is to visualize a calm, clear lake, reflecting the sun on a
beautiful day; the water symbolizes your emotions; the sun symbolizes
your soul or higher self. Visualize the lake being very still so it can
reflect the sun clearly.
4. Still your mind:
Allow your mind to remain poised and alert. In meditation you are
quieting your lower, rational mind and working with your higher,
abstract mind. You are learning to focus your mind like a searchlight
into the higher realms, in order to receive impressions and new ideas
that can help humanity. Your mind is held steady in the light, while
perceiving a still greater light, the light of your soul.
A good technique for calming your mind
is to become a detached observer, noticing your thoughts without trying
to stop or change them, and without judging them. Simply label thoughts
that arise as “thinking”; label emotions as “feelings”; label physical
experiences or discomforts as “sensations”. In the East, this is called
Insight or Vipassana meditation. You disidentify from your thoughts and
feelings, saying to yourself, “I have thoughts, but I am not my
thoughts; I have feelings, but I am not my feelings.”
Visualization can be very effective,
because energy follows thought. You can visualize pure white light
pouring in through the energy center at the top of your head, called the
crown center, and see the light circulating throughout your body, as you
feel lighter and more expanded.
Focus your attention in the present,
letting go of worries about the past or future: be here now. Be
fully present in this moment.
5. Align with your Soul or Higher Self:
Many meditation techniques
end with stilling your mind, but you can go a step further and use your
mind and your will to penetrate into the higher spiritual realms, the
realm of your soul or higher self, and to align with the great
enlightened teachers of humanity such as Christ or Buddha, etc.
This is called “building the rainbow
bridge” or the antahkarana as its called in the East. You
literally build strands of light from each of your bodies--physical,
emotional, mental to their higher spiritual counterparts. You raise
your consciousness to the vibratory frequency of your soul.
If you’re new to meditation, a simple
way to do this is to visualize lines of rainbow light passing through
what’s called the crown chakra or energy center at the top of your head,
and then visualizing this light connecting to a star above your head,
representing your soul and the higher spiritual realms.
If you’re a more experienced meditator,
you can focus your energy in your brow chakra in the middle of your
forehead and then visualize a strand of rainbow light from the plane of
the lower, rational mind to the plane of the higher, abstract mind (or
manas as it’s called in the East); visualize a strand from
the plane of the emotions to the plane of intuition or buddhi;
and from the physical plane to atma or the plane of the higher
will aligned with God’s will.
Then you can hold open your alignment
with your soul for a few minutes in complete inner silence to receive
impressions or guidance. This is referred to as the “higher interlude”
in meditation. After a period of silence, you enter the “lower
interlude,” where your brain can be impressed with ideas received in the
meditation and is stimulated into activity. Then allow your lower mind
to shape the energy or the impressions you received into usable
thoughtforms for your life and work, and to plan action if appropriate.
6. End with a blessing:
The last step is circulation of the energy contacted in meditation as a
blessing and form of service. The spiritual energy you received in
meditation is released and directed into the world, to bring healing and
transformation to individuals in need or to humanity as a whole. You
can visualize light, love and healing energy radiating out from the brow
center in the center of your forehead to where it’s most needed in the
world. It’s important to share and circulate the energy you’ve received
in meditation so it makes a complete circuit of receiving and giving
Lastly, visualize the presence of your
soul, and its light, love and healing energy, filling your whole being,
energizing and balancing your physical, emotional and mental bodies.
Experience your soul as your true essence, a helpful source of wisdom
for your life.
Some people like to begin and end their
meditation by sounding three OMs (which can be done silently if
needed). OM is a sacred word that helps to still the physical,
emotional and mental bodies, and closing the meditation with three OMs
helps distribute the energy.
After you end the meditation, you might
want to write down anything you’ve received in meditation -- ideas,
visions, inner guidance -- as a way to remember it and ground it so you
can apply it in your daily life, as this is a key purpose of meditation.
is co-author of The Practical Visionary, Spiritual Politics
(Foreword by the Dalai Lama), and Builders of the Dawn and
is co-founder of The Center for Visionary Leadership in California.
She directed a national task force for President Clinton’s Council on
Sustainable Development and is a Fellow of The World Business Academy
and the Findhorn Foundation. She is a co-founder of Sirius Community,
a spiritual/environmental center in Massachusetts and a member of The
Transformational Leadership Council.
lives and help citizens build
communities that are environmentally sound, economically prosperous and socially