Stumbled upon this fantastic piece in the Fortune Magazine... its old, but worth a read...
With hellish hours and info overload now the norm, the C-Suite set is turning to extreme meditation to cope, says Fortune's Oliver Ryan.
By Oliver Ryan, Fortune writer-reporter
July 20 2007: 9:05 AM EDT (Fortune Magazine) –
The crowd of Harvard Business School alums who gathered at their reunion to hear networking expert Keith Ferrazzi speak earlier this summer might have expected to pick up strategies on how to work a room, remember people's names, or identify mentors. But tactical skills, it turns out, aren't what turned Ferrazzi into a bestselling author or sought-after speaker.
Instead Ferrazzi let his fellow alums in on a little secret. The key to connecting, he told the group, is "not being an a**hole." And the most effective path he's found? Meditation. Exercise and prayer work too, he said, but meditation has been so effective that he now spends ten days every year at a silent meditation retreat. In other words, the man whose latest book is "Never Eat Alone" credits much of his success to alone time.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years, but not so long ago extended retreats or programs that banned speech were reserved for aging rock stars or college students on the ten-year plan. And while the practice isn't exactly mainstream in corporate America, more and more executives are open to anything that might help them thrive in - or temporarily disconnect from - today's BlackBerry-addled ADD business climate.
Meditation devotees include junk-bond-king-turned-philanthropist Mike Milken; Bill George, the former Medtronic (Charts, Fortune 500) CEO; ad industry mogul Renetta McCann; and NBA coach Phil Jackson. Silicon Valley is full of meditators, such as Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com (Charts), and Larry Brilliant, head of Google's philanthropic efforts. Naturally, a crew of Google (Charts, Fortune 500) employees has organized twice-weekly open meditation hours, at which it has hosted Tibetan monks and a team of mind-science researchers.
Shapiro says that meditation has improved his ability to listen and to think creatively - and there's an increasing amount of scientific evidence to back that up. Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison has, among other experiments, used cranial electrodes and MRI scans to study Tibetan monks on loan from the Dalai Lama. His basic finding: The brain functioning of serious meditators is "profoundly different" from that of nonmeditators - in ways that suggest an elevated capacity to concentrate and to manage emotions. He calls meditation a "kind of mental training."
The retreat, however, is only the start. Back home, students are advised to meditate twice a day. Shapiro admits he struggles to find the time, but he also notes an old saying: "If you can't spend half an hour meditating, you need an hour."