Written by Erika Marcoux
The media is touting the benefits of mindfulness backed by hard science. Many business leaders are taking notice and utilizing mindfulness to catapult their businesses.
Why is mindfulness important to you? Whether you are a business leader or employee, mindfulness offers the mental skills training to reinvest in yourself and the health and performance of your brain. As exercise rose in importance in maintaining physical health in the 1980s, mindfulness is imperative in maintaining mental agility today.
CEO Marc Benioff of Salesforce recently installed meditation spaces on every floor of his new office building for employees to practice mindfulness. He encourages company founders and CEOs to create these designated areas to enhance cutting-edge thinking. “You need to create space and connect with people that are innovative,” Benioff said. This is the advice from a business leader who is bringing in nine-figure sales deals.
Mindfulness is no longer considered a soft skill. It is essential to strengthen your mind and maintain beneficial levels of stress, much like physical exercise. There are at least eight regions of the brain that improve with meditation according to data pulled from more than 20 research studies by a team of scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology.
Business professionals are reliant on their ability to make decisions, be adaptive, and self-regulate. Self-regulation is the ability to focus your thoughts and behavior and respond to problems in an adaptive way. One area of the brain that increases in activity with meditation is the anterior cingulated cortex (ACC) located deep within the forehead. The ACC governs self-regulation and optimal decision-making that every professional needs.
Another area of the brain that literally grows is the hippocampus located inside the temple on each side of the brain. The hippocampus is covered in receptors for the stress hormone cortisol. Meditation increases the gray matter in this region of the brain that builds resilience to stress. Regulating your response to stress is key to experiencing mental, behavioral, emotional, and physical health.
Businesses began the trend of corporate gyms in the 1980s as employers began to take on a greater responsibility for employee health. Now we’re seeing the trend of corporate meditation spaces as employers are taking greater responsibility for the health of their mind and that of their employees.
It is one thing to be educated on the benefits of exercise. It is another to actually exercise on a regular basis and see results. Just like it is one thing to be educated on the benefits of meditation and another to actually have a regular meditation practice to yield the results of decreased stress, and the increase of decision-making and self-regulation.