As a leader, only through presence can you stay at the cutting edge. It is so easy to get comfortable with our old conclusions. These cozy conclusions become entrenched in our minds. They then become assumptions or even beliefs, and these begin to shape the way we look at things. And so, over time, we
If you want to excel, you need the laser-sharp focus that comes only by being truly in the moment. The costs of distraction are enormous. For businesses, distraction causes accidents, injuries, unnecessary work, diminished creativity, reduced output, and critical incidents, not to mention ethical lapses and PR disasters. And in these digital days, with the
If you want authentic leadership presence, start by being present in the moment. Some leaders just seem to have “it”—an aura of authority, a sense of being comfortable in their skin, an air of quiet confidence. They have the ability to inspire others to follow them, trust them, and invest in them. The best also inspire others
As a leader, you can find the calm, clear mind you need, right now … and turn stress into an opportunity. Chronic stress has disastrous consequences. It diminishes your ability to think clearly and respond appropriately, and it contributes to serious health problems, from insomnia and addictive behavior to high blood pressure and cancer. The
Leaders need vital information about what is going on right now. Do you really know what’s going on? Although many leaders feel enormous pressure to “know everything,” and many act as if they know everything, leaders can often be the last to know. Surrounded by minions, protected by barricades, and taking the elevator straight to the
Invest in the moment? Yes, that might seem paradoxical. Investment is intended to build something over time, but moments are fleeting. Investment is intended to yield growth in the future, but this moment is always right now. By “invest in the moment,” however, what I mean is simply this: you have decided to develop your own
According to this article in the New York Times, “How 1-Minute Intervals Can Improve Your Health,” high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has significant physiological benefits.
HIIT is an approach to exercise that involves alternating short, intense bursts of exercise with equally short rest periods — for example, one minute on and one minute off — for a total of about 20 minutes.
Although athletes have been using HIIT to boost speed and endurance, according to new research, HIIT has other benefits, too. These include the improvement of blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity, improvement in the functioning of the blood vessels and heart, lowering the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and the “creation of far more cellular proteins involved in energy production and oxygen.”
The most attractive thing about HIIT, however, has to do with its user-friendliness. In general, the research subjects tested seemed more motivated to do HIIT than the the longer, if less intense, forms of aerobic exercise typically recommended.
I was delighted to read about this research, not just because I am a fan of HIIT and do it regularly at the gym, but because short, intense physical training provides a wonderful metaphor for the short, intense mental training that I have been teaching, which I call “One-Moment Meditation.”
The key idea of One-Moment Meditation (r) is that short, intense bursts of meditation have some significant benefits. And taking a short break after a short period of meditation (before you do another such period, or before you go back to everyday life) has some interesting benefits, too.
For many people, shorter forms of meditation are attractive because they fit more easily into a busy schedule. Shorter forms of meditation are also attractive to people who have tried longer forms of meditation and “failed.”
Beyond that, as with HIIT, there seems to be some value in approaching these short intervals of meditation with intensity. Indeed, when I train people in the first exercise, which I call the “basic minute,” I actually encourage them to “go for it” — to put some oomph into it.
This may seem an unusual instruction for meditation: After all, most people think of meditation more in terms of relaxation than effort. But it is not uncommon to hear meditation teachers say that some energy and commitment is required. And for most of my trainees, the instruction to “go for it” is actually quite helpful. It encourages them to be optimistic — even enthusiastic — about the upcoming minute of meditation. To give it all they’ve got.
I also recommend to trainees, after they complete their basic minute, that they take a little “down time” to notice how it was for them. This mental recovery period, which I call the “cool-down,” has unique psychological benefits in its own right (even though it, too, is very short).
In the cool-down, people notice how much better they feel having done a minute of meditation, and what a pleasant effect was achieved in a short amount of time. This creates a very positive feedback loop, making them more likely to try this practice again sometime.
In addition, the recovery time gives them the opportunity to notice how they make the transition from a more “meditative” state of mind to the more “everyday” state of mind — a state of mind that is, in all likelihood, coming back soon. And as they are cooling down, they may even be able to notice which thoughts cause them to get stressed again, and choose not to pick those up or put them on. Thus the cool-down, although also brief, is quite valuable — a mindful minute in which there is often great learning, reflection and consolidation.
Note that one-moment meditation is not intended as a stepping stone to longer meditation, just as HIIT is not a stepping stone to running the marathon. (Nor is one-moment meditation intended to replace longer forms of meditation.) Rather, the point is to learn that you can change your state of mind quickly — that you can go from where you are to peacefulness in 60 seconds or less. So if you were to practice this simply in order to train for longer meditation, you would be missing the point.
Indeed, rather than being additive, one-moment meditation is actually subtractive. In other words, as trainees become more advanced, instead of adding adjacent minutes together to make a longer meditation, they reduce the length of the meditation, step by step, until they can do it in just a moment.
To my mind, those who can meditate in a moment, and can meditate at a moment’s notice, are true athletes of the mind. Psychologically and spiritually, they are strong, agile and resilient, for they know that each and every moment offers them a fresh start — a new burst of vitality.
And when we are truly awake to this awareness — that this moment, right now, is offering us a fresh start, and that it takes no time to get there — then we are not just mental athletes. We are young at heart. And wise beyond our years.
originally published in the Huffington Post on April 18, 2012