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  • by Scott Collins
  • Director, Brokerage Independence, TD Ameritrade Institutional

Channeling the Benefits of Meditation

Clint Eastwood, Jerry Seinfeld, the Seattle Seahawks and I have a lot in common. Well, okay, we have one thing in common. We believe in the power of meditation to help us ease stress and perform at our peak. No longer is meditation a misunderstood New Age mystery. Its benefits are far reaching and people are taking notice.

For me, meditation is simply a commitment I made to take a few minutes each day to quiet my mind and body, filter out the noise, and allow myself to zero in on what’s important.

Seeds planted long ago

Back in high school, I had an economics teacher who not only piqued my interest in the world of business, but also showed us the power of meditation. He would carve out 15 minutes at the end of each class when we could either lie down or put our heads on the desk. Looking back, I have to wonder whether he just needed a break from us or if he was trying to instill a life skill. Either way, for me, it stuck. Back then, I would think about soccer. I’d visualize our next game and think about how I would play. Not that I’m taking credit for it, but that year we won the state tournament.

That was a long time ago. Over the years, life got more hectic. Work and family demands grew. Whether it’s an excuse, a reality, or both, finding time to invest in my own health and wellness started to take a back seat.

Getting back to center

This spring, I attended our Elite LINC conference in New Mexico where I participated in the Flow Genome Project & TD Ameritrade Peak Performance Workshop. We explored the concept of “flow,” the peak performance state where you feel and perform your best both personally and professionally. This experience was the catalyst for me to recommit to making my overall well-being a priority. It inspired me to get back to what I used to do to be at my best.

Right now, as I look at my workspace, I see two screens, my phone, and my laptop. I am constantly bombarded with information—and I love it. But if there was ever a time when I need to hone my ability to reset and start meditating more, it’s now.

I don’t sit and cross my legs and chant. I simply put on my headphones, and be still and focus on a few key issues of my day. Then I allow my mind to drift. I’ve found that a 15-20 minute recharge centers my mind and helps me stay calm, focused, and productive.

I’m not the only one who was motivated by the workshop. My colleague, George Tamer, blogged about his experience. Another friend made a plan to improve her health and has stuck with it. I recently saw her—she looks and feels great! I’m really happy for her and impressed by her commitment.

Give it a try

If you would like to give meditation a try, here are a few tips. Remember, I’m no expert—these are just some strategies that work for me. There are many online resources if you’d like to pursue a more formal program.

• Schedule it. Pick a time and put it on your calendar. If you don’t plan for it, it’s not going to happen consistently. All you need is 15-20 minutes. First thing in the morning may help get your day off to a good start. I prefer a mid-afternoon reset.
• Go somewhere quiet. Physically remove yourself from distractions.
• Set the tone. I like to listen to relaxation music or Pink Floyd. You may prefer quiet. If you use your phone for music, be sure to turn off other notifications.
• Get comfortable. Lie down or sit comfortably. Relax your body from head to toe.
• Breathe. Take deep, slow breaths. Stay centered and still. Clear your mind of the clutter.

After a week of consistent meditation, assess how you feel and what you’ve accomplished. Did you feel less stressed? Were you able to scratch more items from your to-do list? Did you or your family note improvements in your mood? If it has a positive impact on your life, great! Work to make it a priority.

I admit that sharing this pushes me out of my comfort zone. But isn’t out-of-our-comfort zone where we find the best results? If putting this out there helps you be your best self at work, then it’s worth it. I’d love to hear if meditation works for you or if you have any other practices I should try. Let me know on Twitter: @SCollins_TDA

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