On Meditation and Leadership
The further I delve into the study and practice of leadership, the more I realize that it’s like a pyramid. As I think I’m nearing the top, having learned most of leadership’s ingredients, the top of the pyramid opens up, revealing an infinite amount more to be discovered.
Take Brené Brown’s definition of a leader, for example. She defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in themselves, others, and in processes. And who has the courage to develop that potential.” What I love about this definition is its nuance — words like responsibility, potential, courage and develop are rich with interpretation. What is not included, but implied, in her definition is that leadership also demands presence. If we are not truly present to ourselves, others, and processes, then fully developing potentials is near impossible.
Presence, however, is tricky business. Therapists, yoga studios, mindfulness seminars and your crazy hippy cousin have been telling the world of its benefits for decades (Buddhists have been telling us for centuries). But the actually practice of mindfulness is quite hard. Who doesn’t have a busy brain?
For nearly 40 years I have been in the busy brain boat, like so many others. Yet despite multiple attempts to meditate, weekend courses, and online seminars, I could never get past the stream of thoughts bombarding my psyche. Until I found Sam Harris’ ‘Waking Up’ App.
Over the course of 50 days, in 5-10 minute sittings, Sam masterfully guided me to becoming a meditator. And on most days, I can easily sit for 30 minute and participate in the vastly mysterious and intoxicating world of consciousness.
Every day for the past several months I have made (and will continue to make) meditation a part of my morning practice. What I have learned through embodied, examined experience is profound.
- There is no inherent meaning to anything. Instead, I am the one who creates meaning to everything. This means that I am entirely responsible for the world I create.
- Consciousness is the backdrop for everything; everything simply appears in it.
- This includes my ego, my “I”. In quiet meditations I have been happily unsuccessful in locating my ego. It truly is an illusion. If there is an “I” it is consciousness itself.
- With no “I” to exist, what is left is oneness. In brief flashes of illumination, my meditations have revealed that there really is no separation between me, you, or anything.
- The afterglow of these brief oneness experiences is always love.
Way More Practical Insights
Beyond the existential benefits that meditation has brought, it has also had profound effects in the day to day. I’m learning that:
- I am what I pay attention to. The daily practice of meditating has me focus on the things that make a better me.
- I am far more equipped to let go of things that don’t matter and be present to things that do.
- People are fascinatingly nuanced. Mediation has allowed me to see and be present to the wonderful complexities of the people in my life, whereas before I might have been more apt to judgement.
- I am calmer. When things go wrong, which they do, I’m far less worried or concerned or even upset.
- The only thing that exists is right now. And then its gone. Only to be replaced by a new next moment. Being present to that change is filled with an infinite abundance of delightful expressions. Basically, my life is simply happier.
Only a few months in to this mediation journey, I’m curious (and excited) to see what more I will learn about myself, others and the world in the coming months and years. And with this curiosity comes a deepened commitment to Brené Brown’s invitation to develop the potential in myself, others and processes.
The best way I’m learning how to do this is to be diligently present with whatever is here, right now.
For more information on Sam Harris and Waking Up, click here