Zenpreneurs — not all meditation is created equal

The life of an entrepreneur is stressful. Money is tight, competition is fierce, the pressure is constant and intense. So, with all the claimed benefits of meditation, I’m pretty sure it can make your rich quickly, it’s no wonder that everyone at google is meditating. However, simply starting to meditate may not be enough. Below I highlight four benefits that meditation has been associated with and the type of meditation that has led to that improvement.

Meditation to reduce stress and anxiety

Search for “Studies on meditation and stress” and you’ll get over 8 million results. The most cited study, that being “Effectiveness of a Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Program in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders” concludes that the practice of Transcendental Meditation, can be effective in reducing the effects of stress and anxiety. For those who are not familiar with exactly what Transcendental Meditation is, you’re best looking at the Wikipedia page. Transcendental meditation has also been linked with reduced blood pressure, increased insulin resistance (useful for preventing diabetes), slowing of biological aging and even a 48 percent reduction in the rates of heart attack, stroke and death. All good things to benefit from.

Meditation to improve focus

While you could easily see how a reduction in stress and anxiety could lead to an increase in attention, the scientific world hates extrapolation and many research studies have been conducted to see if meditation can improve focus. Resoundingly the answer is yes. I’m particularly a fan of this study, “Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation” which tested Tibetan Buddhist monks ability to perceive a stable, superimposed percept of two dissimilar, competing images presented to separate eyes for a longer duration both during and after Focused Attention meditation*.

First, what drug were they using when they thought up a study that boils down to measuring monk’s ability to individually focus each eye on a different image. Second, how, after taking these drugs, do they manage to not only think of the study, but find a way to measure the result? My growth team is speechless. But I’m also glad that they did find a way to measure it and that the outcome is positive. However, it’s worth noting that it is the specific Focused Attention meditation that has led to the improvement in focus (when I put it like that it makes sense). Transcendental meditation has been loosely linked with improvements to focus but not as strongly as Focused Attention.

*Focused Attention, or FA, meditation is the voluntary focusing of attention on a chosen object in a sustained fashion.

Meditation improves creativeness

Psychologist Lorenza Colzato and Dominique Lippelt at Leiden University put together a study that examined the effective of meditation on creative thinking. Their study didn’t just look at one type of meditation but examined the effects of multiple types of meditation and the results are fascinating. Participants who practiced Open Monitoring Meditation experienced improved divergent thinking which helps with idea generation. Participants who practiced Focused Attention meditation did not experience this same improvement in divergent thinking. Read through the study here

If the guys who came up with the study outlined in the previous section were not on drugs, they were likely practising open monitoring meditation when they did come up with that idea and not Focused Attention meditation. If they had been practising FA meditation they would likely still be twiddling their thumbs trying to come up with a trial.

Meditation improves your immune system

A study on the impact of meditation on the immune system found that mindfulness meditation led to an increase in antibodies in comparison to the control group. Obviously, the less time we are off sick the more time we entrepreneurs can work towards world domination, or at least shareholder returns. My reason for highlighting this study was that meditation is often associated with cognitive improvements, reductions to stress, creativeness focus, being commonly discussed. Here, the impact is physical and goes to further show how the mind impacts the body. Additionally, it’s mindfulness meditation that comes into play, the fourth type of meditation I’ve discussed and I’m no expert.

Is there a summary?

Of course. Meditation can help entrepreneurs reduce stress, improve creativity, increase stress, and keep your immune system in good running order. However, entrepreneurs must consider that the type of meditation they practice will impact which facet they see improvement in. There appears to be no single form of meditation which can have a positive impact on all the items outline above so it may be in the entrepreneur’s interest to utilise multiple types of meditation as and when the situation calls for it.