Meetings & Your Brain

Give Yourself a (Mindful) Break

Try meditation in the quest for less stress.

mindfulness opener
Illustration by Irene Rinaldi

If you are feeling more stressed than usual lately, you have lots of company. The American Psychological Association has released survey results indicating that a majority of Americans find the 2016 election to be a significant source of stress. And that’s true no matter what political affiliation that respondents claim, and is tied in particular to exposure to social media.

That’s not good news for the already stressed ranks of those who plan meetings, a profession which turns up every year on top-ten lists of the most stressful jobs. In one 2016 ranking, the only jobs that were more stressful were military personnel, fire fighter, airline pilot, and police officer. 

With the election still two weeks away, it seems like the perfect moment to reconsider mediation, a topic which Digital Editor Kate Mulcrone wrote about in February. 

As meditation programs adopted at many companies, including Google, Aetna, and Salesforce, have found, the benefits of meditation include improved brain function, increased emotional intelligence, and a heightened ability to absorb and retain information. And reduced stress. 

Kate’s story — and a Convene Podcast with educator Janet Sperstad, CMP — focused on the benefits for participants when meeting designers adding meditation practices and a mindfulness mindset to events. 

But what about you? What would happen if you carved a few minutes each day out of your schedule to give it a try? After years of reading and even writing about its benefits, I’ve finally committed to spending 15 minutes a day in meditation. I’ve discovered a secret: the worse you are initially at meditating, the more likely you are to benefit from it. 

If you are a beginner like me, you can easily find free audio and video meditations online. And here’s a list of some of the most well-regarded apps, including a free one, to help get you started on the road to less stress and more calm. 

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.