Guys and Meditation: A Gym Membership for the Mind

Recently, I have noticed just how many of my guy friends are into meditation. Just this week, at the gym, there was Nick Morgenstern meditating in the hallway after his swim. I asked him about it and he told me that he has been a practitioner for years as a way to stay calm and not get overwhelmed by the stress of running his restaurants.

My friend David Rosenberg, from VaynerMedia, is a more recent devotee, having gotten into it over the last year. His company is also very meditation-friendly from what I’ve seen. Like Nick, he was drawn to it as a way to deal with an incredibly stressful, fast-paced job. He meditates twice a day (20 minutes per) and feels it gives him the equivalent of an extra 3 hours of sleep. Other physiological benefits include processing things faster, having more empathy and being more fully present at all times.

Read on below for more on the phenomenal growth of meditation and some of its high-profile practitioners from Novak Djokovic (tennis player) to Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.

Also below, highlights from my interview with Ben Turshen, David Rosenberg’s meditation teacher (and a former, stressed-out corporate lawyer!!).

Meditation has grown 50% over the last year (Source: Google @SXSW, Well & Good)


Meditation in the C-Suite

    • Meditation has gone corporate with many CEOs and executives fully embracing meditation, swearing it helps them achieve key business goals. Some have even built it into the company culture e.g. at Apple, workers have access to on-site meditation facilities, which were all part of a process that Steve Jobs used to reduce his own stress, gain more clarity, and enhance his creativity.
    • Marc Benioff, Chairman, Founder and CEO of Salesforce, credits meditation with helping him manage stress.
    • Googlers call their in-house meditation class “Neural Self-Hacking.”
    • But the biggest name is Ray Dalio, founder/chairman of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund. Dalio is a superhero of the financial world. And what the 67-year-old has to say about TM—which he started doing forty years ago, in college—is not ambiguous: “I think meditation has been the single biggest reason for whatever success I’ve had.”


Gym membership for the mind

      • The workout metaphor is particularly apt for guys who gravitate to meditation as exercise, not magic or religion. Meditation has something in common with CrossFit: It will be hard at first, and both the challenges and the rewards will increase over time.
      • The meditation app Headspace (co-created by Andy Puddicombe, a 43-year-old former Buddhist monk) has been downloaded over 6 million times with over 5 million active user. It bills itself as a “gym membership for the mind,” and functions as a personal trainer.


Highlights from my interview with Ben Turshen, Master Teacher of Vedic Meditation (and former attorney and fitness professional)

    • Ben is David Rosenberg’s meditation teacher. As described by David, he is a “modern dude” who teaches meditation to city-dwellers i.e. he understands and relates to people who live stressful, urban lives.
    • Ben was a super-stressed corporate lawyer. He was depressed, he couldn’t sleep, he saw a therapist and it kept him functional but he wasn’t happy and then he discovered meditation!!
    • Ben believes meditation is growing among guys because they find it boosts their performance. Through meditation they become more productive, more creative and more focused.
    • Guys also recognize that stress cripples performance.
    • There’s an increase in awareness of meditation e.g. through sports (Kobe Bryant) and through business leaders (Googlers)
    • The biggest misconception about meditation is that it’s all the same, when it’s NOT.
    • Vedic, which Ben practices and teaches, is an effortless technique. The mind and body silently experience a particular sound, a mantra, and settle down automatically and spontaneously without any effort, focus, or concentration. There is no chanting involved. It is a modern take on meditation because there’s no dogma, nothing to give up, it requires no faith or belief system to work.
    • See Ben’s site, here, for detailed information on classes and fee structure.

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