Meditation is more useful for leaders than business school. It is the direct path to developing concentration, equanimity and insight, three characteristics which the best leaders move mountains to cultivate.
But we’re doing it wrong. Meditation has always been a team sport.
From the beginnings of meditation in the Indian subcontinent around 5,000 BCE, through its expansion across the Hindu tradition in the Vedas around 1,500 BCE and its popularization across the East by the Buddhists around 500 BCE, the presence of fellow practitioners has been proven through millennia of user testing to play a critical role in the efficacy of meditation.
In fact, one of the Three Jewels in Buddhism (the three dedications every Buddhist makes) is Sangha, a Sanskrit word meaning the community of fellow practitioners. So the original pros at meditation felt so strongly about the importance of the community that they placed it on equal footing with the Buddha himself, and all his teachings.
Of course we’ve individualized meditation in the West (I’m sure you’re shocked). At some point during its migration between the early 1900’s and its rapid expansion through the counterculture of the 1960’s, a practice that had always been done in groups became a single-player game.
We lost something in the translation.
I’ve meditated consistently for nearly a decade. I’ve used all the apps, I’ve studied under teachers and Masters, I’ve lived in a monastery. I’ve practiced on my own countless times, but there’s something special to practicing with a group of peers.
Deepak Chopra explained that “Research on the power of group meditation has been ongoing for several decades, and the results seem to validate what the ancient sages said, that there is greater peace in the vicinity of the enlightened. Individually we may not see ourselves as enlightened, but the group effect multiplies each single member.”
Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s the feeling that I get when I sit with other people. The feeling of electric peace that reliably comes whether we share a room or are COVIDing over Zoom. Or maybe it’s a change in my thought patterns triggered by my ego’s interaction with other sentient beings. Or maybe it’s just a sense that we got each other’s back. That we’re not so alone after all.
Either way, as a longtime meditator and a consciousness alone in a vast Universe, when I can organize the logistics, I prefer a multi-player game.
Interested in team-based meditation? We’ve started our own meditation community targeted to everyday leaders, and I’d love to practice with you. Click this link to learn more.
If you liked this article, please subscribe below to get my latest articles in your inbox (including Friday Sabbatical, the popular weekly reading list for business leaders).