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I hear a lot about power of meditation, however I've never tried by myself. I've tried to find any useful information regarding connection between meditation and productivity, and found nothing interesting. No doubts, meditation helps you to stay focused, therefore it should improve productivity.

Do you have any experience with meditation?

Does meditation improve you productivity?

I would like to try, do you know where to start from?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Meditation really helps me improve my productivity (though there is still a lot to do)

Of the main advantages it brings me:

  1. Calm, quietness. I no longer waste long time in writing agressive email answers, or chewing again and again bad thoughts because of whatever reasons possible, no longer burning energy in anger...

  2. Finding solutions more quickly. The ego being much less important, it helps shifting from some biais I would have stuck to some years ago (e.g. sometimes not listening or believing or accepting what a colleague says, or that I may be wrong etc...)

  3. Less stress. I no longer think about my job at the end of the day... and oh... phiou... I have gained some nights of sleep :-)

Some other things like that... I can't really make list.

But above all, I didn't start meditation so as to improve productivity at work ;-) It is only a remote side effect.

So as to start, what caught me:

  1. The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation: As Taught by S. N. Goenka

  2. discovering Zen (whatever books of tales is good)

  3. discovering Tao (Zhouang Tz, he is funny then only Lao Tz that is more esoteric).

I didn't read the S. N. Goenka book entirely, but it was really great, because it's a physical technique that he teaches.

edit: That can be summed-up in saying:

  • Sitting, or lying in bed, calm, or any position where you feel comfortable.
  • Listening to one's breath, keeping calmer
  • Letting thoughts go like waves, not being in caught in the thoughts... escaping each wave of thought one after the other at some moment. Sometimes it can takes some secondes, even minutes, the essential is to give up the thoughts... not to be burried, imprisonned, burning or freezing in them. You can BE without really thinking: Focussing on breath helps towards this state, because then a part of the thoughts is simply concentrated on breath mechanism, and no longer launch (more or less) the whirls and the spiral of the huge connections of all the thoughts ever possible triggered one another by daily pains, or desires, things to do, frustrations, things shouldn't have been done, jealousy, pride, hope, despair, a huge cascade of personal dominoes that only waits to collapse once again...
  • "Looking at" oneself thinking.
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Does meditation improve you productivity?

Yes, but the mechanism by which it does so isn't necessarily direct.

In other words, you won't meditate in the morning and suddenly be productive that day. It is an iterative, and often intermittent, process, particularly when first starting.

I would like to try, do you know where to start from?

Thoughts are inevitable.

IMO the trick is the process by which we:

  1. Recognize those thoughts, and
  2. Acknowledge them, and
  3. Let them go.

This is the same process to use when we recognize we're no longer doing what we want to be, regardless of the endeavor: meditating, solving problems, reading, learning a language, and so on.

Meditation is about awareness. Awareness transfers into (normally) non-meditative states. There are studies coming out now regarding mindfulness, neurological differences between brains that meditate and those that don't, how those brains react to and process internal and external stimuli, etc.

While not directly related to productivity, IMO the results of those studies make a strong argument that brains that meditate re-capture focus more easily and ease the internal chatter and distractions that can reduce productivity.

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For me, meditation can be seen as mental training. Mindfulness or buddhism practices allow you to take a better control of what is happening in your brain, i.e. your flow of sensations, emotions, and thoughts. During the practice of meditaion, you can either learn to focus on one thing instead of many depending on the context ; or you can learn to see the flow without being attaching to anything.

In a way, it's a practice for improving attention and focus, which of course very good to improve your productivity, your ability to be in "the flow" and to fight against procrastination.

I have read very good information on this subject in Matthieu Ricard and Yongey Mingyour Rinpotche books.

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Where to start from: as well as the great books and resources others have suggested, I'm really enjoying the free 10 day intro course in the Headspace meditation app.

There are lots of meditation apps, but I like this one as it's not just wind chimes and New Age music like some of them, but an inductive learning-style course of meditations that gradually increase in difficulty (reminded me of those couch to 5k apps).

Dan Benjamin of the 5by5 podcast network often talks about his meditation practice, particularly how it's helped his OCD and allowed him to deal with the stress of corporate jobs. I've found his blog posts on the topic useful:

The guided audio meditations he links to at Dhamma Talks and Audio Dharma are also invaluable.

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