If you can’t nap, meditate
By Adil Wali , 5th Oct 2010

Recently, I wrote about how advantageous I feel naps can be, and how thrilled I am that there is some evidence to support what I’ve suspected for some time now.  Unfortunately, whether the day is just that hectic, or I’m simply not in the mood, there will be times when taking a nap is just not an option.  I also know people who are just ‘not good at sleeping during the day.’

Meditation provides a great alternative when it comes to relaxing and refocusing the brain.  Peter Bregman wrote this great article on meditation and how it can be especially beneficial from a professional standpoint.  The brain can be a powerful thing, but it will only reach full potential when we use it to think proactively.  The problem here is that most of us are caught up in thinking reactively.  We are caught up in current events, fires, and other issues that spring up throughout the day.

Thinking reactively slows our pace because more time is spent reflecting on past events and current details.  Focusing on these lowers our impact because they aren’t necessarily the most important things we can be thinking about.  Worse yet, by filling our heads with so much noise, we reduce the quality of the decisions we make.  In a sense, this collection of thoughts can be thought of as our ‘cache.’  The more full the cache is, the more time it takes to process information, and the less ideal the outcome will be.

I’m sure everyone can agree that making critical decisions while under stress is a bad idea.  Even if time is not a factor, solid decisions will not be made effectively when the brain is full of noise.  The cache needs to be cleared routinely in order to achieve clarity of thought.  Meditation does precisely this, by focusing and realigning the mind to a steady and relaxing pulse.

There are many techniques when it comes to meditation, but the common element involves clearing your mind of thought.  Most folks say that the best way to do this is to focus on your breathing.  By doing so, you accomplish several things.  Here are just a few:

  • All other thought is pushed out. No more fretting over the could-haves or what-ifs.
  • Your pulse relaxes. Tension is released by simply letting go of it.
  • You de-stress. For this moment, nothing else matters.  Just breathe.

After a few moments, the cache will be cleared and the brain will be more relaxed.

I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read Peter’s article so that you see how productive doing nothing can be.  I still think taking naps is the best way to do nothing, but meditation is a close second.  For me, the only way to clear my cache is to meditate or nap.  I suggest everyone do one of these daily.  You will be amazed how much more productive you can be by doing less.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Adil Wali. I became a Microsoft certified professional at age 14 and started my first web development company. That led to a career as a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and startup investor. I got my first “real job” at 33, and I’m now a FinTech executive with a passion for the markets.