The science is pretty much settled. The overwhelming medical evidence shows that meditation is hugely beneficial for the mind and body. It helps lower stress, treats anxiety/depression, increases brain processing power, increases emotional control and resiliency, and lowers blood pressure. So it’s no wonder that many people are increasingly swearing by the practice.
CEOs are increasingly adopting the practice. It’s not a surprise since CEOs have one of the most stressful jobs in the world. They are always looking for an edge. No other mental practice has been proven to offer as big of an advantage as meditation.
The following is a list of famous CEOs who swear by meditation and its benefits.
1. Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey is famous for being the CEO of Twitter. But many do not know that he is also the CEO of Square, the payment processing system company that also owns Cash App. How can he run two multi-billion dollar companies and still have his sanity? He credits part of it to his meditation routine.
Dorsey has been meditating well before being CEO of the two tech firms, practicing it for two hours a day. He also goes on 10-day silent meditation retreats in Burma.
2. Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio is American Billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist, also known as the founder and served as a co-chief of Bridgewater. For Dalio, success isn’t a straight shot.
In the early years of building Bridgewater, a bad bet wiped him out financially. It was during this difficult time where he learned about “ Transcendental Meditation”. It allows him to make better judgment and reflect on his decisions. Dalio credited this practice as the reason for Bridgewater’s success today.
Dalio writes in his book “Principles”, that he learned Transcendental Meditation after the Beatles, who studied the practice in India in 1968. The technique is recommended for 20 minutes, twice per day, while sitting with one’s eyes closed.
In an interview with Business Insider, Dalio said “When the pain passes, don’t just go forward, reflect, because that’s where your progress is”. He also said that it helped him a lot in balancing his aggressiveness and prevents him from thinking he is always right.
3. Naval Ravikant
Known as the co-founder, chairman, and former CEO of AngelList, Naval Ravikant has invested in the early stages of popular companies such as Uber, Foursquare, Twitter, Wish.com to name a few. He became well known on the web for releasing a series of short videos on how to become rich and successful.
Naval Ravikant’s meditation method is simple. Spending an hour a day doing nothing.
In an interview with Joe Rogan, when he is asked if he focuses on his breath, he says he uses no objects and added that …
“ Every meditation technique is leading you to the same thing, which is just witnessing. And concentration is a technique to still your mind enough that you can then drop the object of concentration. So you could also try just going straight to the endgame. The problem with what I’m talking about, which is not focusing on your breath, is that you will have to listen to your mind for a long time. It’s not going to work unless you do at least an hour a day, and preferably at least 60 days before you kind of work through a lot of issues. So it’ll be hell for a while, but when you come out the other side it’s great.”
He also said that the primary goal of meditation is finding peace.
“To me, peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion. You can convert peace to happiness any time you want, but peace is what you want most of the time. If you’re a peaceful person, anything you do will be a happy activity.”
4. Marc Benioff
The founder of San Francisco based software company Salesforce, Marc Benioff promotes giving space to employees to put technology aside and have some quiet time. The aim is to enhance clear thinking and innovation.
Salesforce offices are known to have a “mindfulness zone” on each floor that allows employees to be off their phones and take time to be quiet.
In an interview with Harvard Business Review Analytics Services (HBRAS), Benioff emphasized “Innovation” as the core value of Salesforce. He said that “A beginner’s mind is the practice of looking at the world with fresh, unencumbered eyes, and avoiding inside-out or homogenous thinking that can lead to blind spots and missed opportunities.
To encourage this mindset, we have ‘mindfulness zones’ on every floor of our office buildings where employees can put their phones into a basket and clear their minds”.
Benioff continues to practice having a beginner’s mind, which also describes his management style. He said he tries to listen deeply, and by having a beginner’s mind enables him to step back to create “what wants to be, not what was”.
5. Andrew Cherng
Cherng is famously known for Panda Express. The founder of California-based Panda Restaurant Group believes in “fixing people from the inside”.
On one occasion, he paused a business meeting just to encourage a completely exhausted store manager to meditate. He is known for regularly practicing meditation himself, making it part of his business culture, and encourages employees to participate.
6. Bill George
American Businessman and Management professor Bill George believes that “Mindfulness” helps people become better leaders.
In his website, he wrote that “Mindfulness enables leaders to be fully present, aware of themselves and their impact on other people, and sensitive to their reactions to stressful situations. He also added that “Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals.”
He shared that he did self-meditation for more than thirty years, though he described it as “not as religious or spiritual”, but to relieve stress.
“In the process of becoming more self-aware, leaders learn to accept their weaknesses, failures, and vulnerabilities, just as they appreciate their strengths and successes.” he wrote.
7. Ramani Ayer
One of the first Indians to head a Fortune 100 company, CEO and chairman of The Hartford Group learned to meditate since he was 24.
He completed the Transcendental Meditation program while studying at Drexel University. He said that TM meditation helped him advance in his professional life, as it helps him consistently raise his performance.
He strongly believed that Transcendental Meditation helped him cope with stress- as it maintains a steady state of mind, harmony, and peace. He’s been doing it for over 35 years.
8. Jeff Weiner
Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, is known for using an app called Headspace for meditation. He even recommended this to his employees and partners.
His philosophy for success involves the appreciation of health, love, and time.
9. Bill Gates
Best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, American Business magnate Bill Gates admitted that at first, he thought meditation as “a woo-woo thing” and that he “didn’t buy into it”.
But since science backs it up, he and his wife Melinda now consistently practice it.
In an interview, Bill Gates said that he meditates two to three times per week, for about 10 minutes each time. He now sees it as mental exercise.
He attests that meditation helps him focus, keep the brain young as it boosts memory, and reduces stress.
A book by a former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe turned from “a skeptic to a believer”. He suggested reading Puddicombe’s book titled The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness to those who want to make meditation a habit.
10. Bob Stiller
Forbes’s first Entrepreneur of the Year and American Billionaire who co-founded E-Z Wider – meditates 45 minutes a day. He believes in the principle of “appreciative inquiry”, which encourages people to learn from their successes instead of dwelling on their mistakes.
In an interview with Vermont Business Magazine, Stiller said that he still tries to meditate twice a day. He also shared his experience when he went off for a week of meditation with Deepak Chopra at his Seduction of Spirit retreat.
“I was clearly in another place. There was like an instant connection, compassion, with everyone. I think more and more people are tapping into this, which is good to see. I really feel it has a place in business because it’s a real source of creativity.”
He recommends people to explore meditative practices that help to be mindful of who they are.
11. Oprah Winfrey
Like Ray Dalio and Ramani Ayer, Oprah Winfrey also embraces transcendental meditation. Her devotion to her meditation employs the use of mantra that reduces stress and enhances her well-being.
In a recent conversation with Dr. Oz, Oprah revealed that transcendental meditation aims to “connect with that which is God.”
Oprah and Deepak offer a free guide online called 21-day Meditation Experience, inspired by a notion that it takes 21 days to build a habit. It includes 10 minutes of daily audio meditations, motivational messages, journals that anchor daily teachings as well as articles, videos, and tips to create a lasting meditation practice.
12. Alak Vasa
Elements Truffles co-founder Alak Vasa believes that outer beauty is a reflection of inner beauty. She religiously practices a 30-minute morning meditation that nurtures and fuels her for the day. It also helped her manage her panic and fear during stressful situations when she is working at Goldman Sachs.
She also reveals that she is fond of Abhyanga, a warm oil body massage that restores her physical balance.
13. Jonathan Tang
VASTRM CEO, Jonathan Tang started introducing meditation to his staff to manage the traumatic experience brought about by the 9/11 attack. The goal was to help his staff achieve a state of calmness and acceptance.
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, he said that “In the aftermath of 9/11, the employees at my company were noticeably shaky and distracted. I decided to bring in a meditation facilitator to offer people the ability to sit silently for 20 minutes. The room filled up quickly as people needed an outlet for peace.
When the session was over, people who had never meditated before were filled with a sense of calmness. It helped them be more present at work and even carried forth to being more present with their families at home.”
14. Archana Patchirajan
Serial entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Sattva, is very passionate when it comes to meditation. She shared in an article with Harvard Business Review that during her early years as a leader, she naturally wants to do things her way, without thinking about the well being of her team. “I didn’t tend to understand what my team was going through. I would just get angry if they did not perform according to my expectations. ”
Because of meditation, she can now manage her patience, resulting in a better relationship with her team.
15. Russell Simmons
Russel Simmons revealed during an episode of the 10% Happier podcast that he did a lot of hurtful things to himself when he was young. He said that he ate animal products, smoked a lot, and did drugs.
Now at 59, his lifestyle is very far from what he had 35 years ago. He’s now a vegan, practices yoga, and does meditation for every 20 minutes twice a day.
Simmons has worked to bring the practice of meditation to schools, especially those with high rates of violence. He also provides a free mantra through his app Meditation Made Simple.
16. Rick Goings
Known as the former Chairman and CEO of Tupperware Brands, he religiously spends 20 minutes twice a day meditating—whether it be in bed, inside the car, in the office, or anywhere else he can get a session in.
He said he’s been doing transcendental meditation since he was 30. Because of meditation, the feeling of being burned out rarely happens.
17. Chirag Patel
Chirag Patel is Ernst & Young’s 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year and CEO of Amneal Pharmaceuticals. Patel states that meditation helps him feel more connected with his clients. He said that in business, treating your clients as if they are family rather than just a mere business transaction helps build this connection. The same goes for how he treats the relationship with his staff and colleagues.
And the list goes on. As science continues to confirm the benefits of meditation, there is no doubt that more people will gravitate towards this practice. The benefits of meditation are immense and everyone practicing it can only make the world better. The hope is that, one day, everyone will think of it as another body part we have to work out, just like our legs, triceps, or chest.
For more information on the science behind meditation, refer to the links below: