Most people know the benefits of meditation as they relate to the workplace. Scholarly research has shown that a daily practice is linked to enhanced focus, concentration, and heightened self awareness—all qualities that would serve any professional or student well. When you meditate, you directly have better presence of mind. You are more grounded in the “now,” and because of that, you’ll often find that you perform better.
But there are two lesser-known ways that meditation can help you work smarter—ones that are certainly worth knowing about.
One of the most overlooked benefits of meditation is an improved relationship with time. When the mind is more present and focused, you have an enhanced understanding and comprehension of a given topic or task. When that becomes a regular part of your working style, it profoundly impacts your ability to learn and work at a high level.
Most often, people find that they’re able to achieve more in a shorter period of time. Say, there’s a given task and it normally takes you half an hour to do it. Surprisingly enough, after getting into a consistent meditation practice, you may be able to do the same task in 25 or even 20 minutes. I have seen this phenomenon many times in my students, and it’s amazing because in the workplace or at school, time has a lot of value.
Why does this happen? Well, through meditation you can relax, and you can transfer that aura of calm to your efforts. Relaxing allows you to be so focused and attentive that you are able to do the same task with much more ease. When you do anything in this peaceful state of mind, you can achieve more in less time. Say you’re scatter-brained and you’re trying to retain or learn something. You’re not present enough and your mind is all over the place. It’s going to take a long time. But if you’re calm and relaxed, it’s going to be no sweat to get the job done.
If you’re able to complete your regular tasks quicker, then you might use that extra time to take a break. But you also might use it to learn more, do more, achieve more. And that’s where this enhanced relationship with time can really start to help you excel.
Secondly, your self-esteem improves through meditation. That might not seem like a concept that’s related to productivity, but it truly is. Meditation improves your priorities deep down inside. It gives you this feeling of “yes, I’m a good human.” And that lifts your self-esteem up. Self-esteem isn’t really connected to vanity or intelligence, as we often assume. Confidence comes from the satisfaction in giving or doing something for others.
The more you do for others, the better your relationships will be, professional and otherwise. It’s really quite simple: If you’re more compassionate, then have more friends and colleagues who hold you in high regard; meditation enhances this compassion. Even your communication skills get upgraded because you’re better able to relate to others, express yourself, and deliver your thoughts outwardly, either vocally or through writing.
So how can you get these benefits, and how often do you need to meditate before you start noticing them?
To me, this question is almost like asking: How many days should I eat? And then when should I stop eating? Meditation is like food for your mind and soul, and in order to reap the full benefits, you need to do it every day.
In terms of how long it will take to notice the benefits, it depends. When you start exercising or eating healthy, for example, you start to see certain results. Meditation works the same way. In the first week, you might sleep a little better. In two weeks, you might start to feel more focused. In three weeks, you might feel less stressed, and so on. The rewards of a daily practice build up over time.
As far as what type of meditation you should do, any kind will work. The key is that you integrate it into your routine. Just as you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you meditate, too. You have to keep it up. So find a type that you love and that you can do long-term. Guided meditations are a great place to start, but I would recommend developing an internally-led practice with the help of a teacher or through your own research, as it’s more likely to become a lasting habit if it comes from within.