The Power of Meditation: A Path to Better Leadership

Occasionally unplugging from the hustle and bustle of life is not a nicety; it’s a must-have. Our bodies, brains, and ability to regulate emotions were not wired for this world. It’s too noisy, congested, busy, distracting. It’s easy to begin a morning’s work committed to catching up on email and relatively quickly spiral into real-time chat via Slack, Teams, or any number of social channels chirping at us at any given moment. 

By now, we all have at least made personal commitments, and many of us have some systems in place for navigating “inputs.” We quiet notifications, designate specific times of day for certain tasks and step away from our screens at regular intervals. But our brains don’t replenish during that 10-minute break between Zoom meetings. The cortisol levels we have been building don’t quickly drop to normal and healthy levels as soon as our work day ends, just as we shift our energy and attention to our families, friends, and ourselves. 

We need something to help us bridge between the world we live in and the inner world of peace we require for our own well-being. Meditation is a wonderful option. Easy to access anytime, anywhere, and time and research-tested, it can unlock a world of possibilities for you. 

Meditation is not merely a tool for relaxation; it is a transformative practice that enhances self-awareness, focus, and emotional regulation. These qualities are essential not only for personal well-being but also for fostering cultural competence and effective leadership. Meditation creates access to a sense of calm and clarity that translates into better decision-making and interpersonal skills.


The Science Behind Meditation

Scientific research supports the benefits of meditation for the brain and body. Studies have shown that regular meditation can:

  • Reduce Stress: Meditation lowers the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, leading to a calmer and more composed state of mind. According to a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, regular meditators report a 30% reduction in stress levels.
  • Enhance Focus: Meditation improves attention span and cognitive control, enabling leaders to stay focused on their tasks. A study from Harvard Medical School found that meditation practitioners have increased gray matter in the brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing.
  • Boost Emotional Intelligence: Meditation promotes self-awareness and empathy, helping leaders understand and manage their emotions and those of others more effectively. Research from the University of California found that meditation can increase emotional intelligence by up to 15%.
  • Improve Health: Meditation has been linked to better immune function, reduced blood pressure, and overall well-being, contributing to sustained energy and resilience. The American Heart Association reports that meditation can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 48%.


A Practical Guide

Often, when I talk to people who are new to meditation about my practice, they become quite focused on the type of meditation or the specific steps. It is not my experience that one type of meditation is better than another, nor that only one type is appropriate all the time. For example, I sometimes take walking meditations. I walk through a forest in silence, paying close attention to every natural noise and movement, including the stillness. My full and intentional focus is on whatever my senses are taking in. Nothing else. Nothing else is allowed in my brain in that space. Just the here and now, full presence. I also practice yoga, which is a kind of meditation through movement. The movement and attention to posture and pose force me to focus on my body, breath, joints. When I feel an ache or a pain, I silently inquire about it to myself. “Isn’t this interesting? Am I pushing myself too hard, or is this feeling of discomfort helping me push through something that needs attention?” Morning and evening, I practice Transcendental Meditation (TM), a specific form of silent mantra meditation that is practiced for 20 minutes twice a day. My practice is this: 

  • Find a Quiet Space: Choose a peaceful spot where I can meditate without distractions. This includes not sitting directly in the sun or in a place where mosquitos or flies might pester me. I do not listen to music or a guide (that is another kind of meditation and also a good choice). 
  • Sit Comfortably: I sit with my legs folded over each other, back straight, head forward and slightly elevated, and eyes closed.
  • Repeat a Mantra: I silently repeat my mantra in my mind, carefully timing it with the inhales and exhales of my breath. Breathing is one of the most important aspects of meditation and yoga. A mantra is a word or sound. I did not randomly find my mantra, it was given to me based on the exact time, date, and location of my birth. Repeating the mantra helps to focus my attention and settle my mind.
  • Allow Thoughts to Flow: If (I mean when!) my mind wanders, I gently bring it back to the mantra without judgment. This happens a lot in some sessions, and in others, I experience much more inner stillness. Each time is different, and that’s ok. 
  • Practice Regularly: Consistency is key. I practice TM twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, before morning coffee and before dinner. These 20-minute rituals force me to stop and invest in my brain and body chemistry. I may not always “feel like I need to meditate,” but our bodies hold memories and emotions even when we are not aware of them. 

The Impact of Meditation on Leadership

Meditation equips leaders with the tools to handle stress, make thoughtful decisions, and foster positive workplace environments. Here are some statistics highlighting the benefits of meditation in leadership roles:

  • Improved Decision-Making: A study by INSEAD and The Wharton School found that meditation improves decision-making skills by 20%.
  • Increased Productivity: Research published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology shows that employees who meditate regularly have a 30% higher productivity rate.
  • Enhanced Job Satisfaction: A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that meditators report a 28% increase in job satisfaction.

Better Team Dynamics: According to research from the University of Sydney, teams led by meditators show a 25% improvement in team dynamics and cooperation.


Integrating Meditation into Your Leadership Practice

Incorporating meditation into your daily routine can lead to significant improvements in your personal well-being and your ability to positively impact others. Here’s how you can integrate daily meditation:

  • Set Aside Time: Dedicate a few minutes each day to meditate. Start with short sessions and gradually increase the duration.
  • Create a Routine: Meditate at the same times each day, such as first thing in the morning and before bed.
  • Use Technology: Apps like Headspace or Calm can provide guided meditation sessions tailored to your needs.
  • Encourage Team Practice: Promote meditation within your team to foster a culture of mindfulness and well-being.

Meditation is a powerful practice that restores and revitalizes, making it an invaluable tool for leaders. By embracing meditation, you can achieve a balanced, focused, and compassionate approach to your roles, leading to both personal growth and organizational success. Invest in your well-being through meditation and witness the profound impact it has on your journey.




Subscribe to the Blog

About Us

DeEtta Jones & Associates (DJA) guides leaders and organizations on a journey that builds capacity, strengthens innovation, and increases organizational performance by creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment.

Learn More About DeEtta Jones & Associates

    Follow Us Online