Boost your Mind through Meditation
Author: Anne-Catherine Kieschnick
Estimated reading time: 8 min
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Have you ever felt like you are stuck in a cycle that just won’t end?—exhausted, tired and just needed a break for a second?
Breaks are the most important part of the day. Without regular breaks especially during a working day, we not only damage our creativity and our perceptive faculty, but also our health, which must be taken seriously. There are many ways to support our mental health while trying to give our best at work or in a stressed situation. Meditation is just one part of a long road finding out what works best for you. It actually is a main character of this process. Especially in the startup world, where we have to perform as the best version of ourselves. We have to take care of our values, keep our minds creative and always try to improve ourselves. A meditation routine can help us to do justice to our claim. — This article will be about finding a way to support your health physically and metally. Showing you on how to take a nap properly and learning more about meditation to improve your daily life.
“Breaks increase productivity and creativity” (Meg Selig, 2017)
Imagine yourself in a loop. An endless loop — a work process you can only escape once you’ve achieved your goal. This means that during this process you will only focus on the project you are working on. Of course, every person is different, and every single work process works differently — is carried out differently. The key during such a process is to hit the stop button. Stop. Just give yourself a break for a moment. Take a deep breath and collect all of your thoughts. Let your emotions guide you and listen to the signals your body is giving you. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, or simply tired, just take a break for a couple of minutes, no matter what you are doing at this moment.
What are the advantages of a break and how do you make the most of your breaks during a workday? Which rituals should one introduce and what is particularly bad for the mind and body?
Power napping is one of the most common rituals, people try to integrate into their daily routine. Experts recommend a power nap from 10 to 30 minutes daily. The short nap not only compensates for a possible sleep deficit but according to new studies it should also strengthen the immune system and reduce stress levels. According to researchers from the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Australia, a maximum length of 10 minutes has turned out to be ideal. In addition, sleep researcher Sara Mednick from Harvard University has found, in order to better anchor newly acquired knowledge in the brain, that sleep of at least one hour can achieve success.
The important thing is that both the body and the brain go through later stages of sleep: deep sleep and REM-sleep, also known as paradoxical sleep (REM=Rapid Eye Movement). These two stages of sleep are necessary to reinforce the learning process. (Shari Langema, 2013)
The body usually returns to stage 2 sleep, once REM sleep is over. “Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night” (Steven Gans, MD, 2019).
For everyday life, however, naps are sufficient, which can be especially effective against the daily low. In order to achieve a lasting effect, there are a few steps that should be observed:
11 steps on how to power nap properly:
step 1 Set the right time
step 2 Drink coffee before
step 3 Darken your surroundings
step 4 Relaxing music or silence
step 5 Sit or lie comfortably
step 6 Correct temperature (16—20°C)
step 7 Set alarm clock
step 8 Always get up when the alarm is ringing
step 9 Stimulate the circulation (splash a little cold water on the face, drink a glass of water, climbing stairs and stretch)
step 10 Go in bright light — ideally sunlight
step 11 practice!
(Magdalena Eitenberger, MA 2015)
Nevertheless, a rest phase has proven to be more efficient than a power nap. Thirty minutes of rest, e.g. sitting on the floor with your eyes closed and simply switching off is considered particularly effective in promoting productivity and receptivity in everyday work. Among other things, practicing daily meditations could bring balance to your business life.
A regular rest phase is not only beneficial in working life. Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School were able to evaluate the health data of 23,700 participants on the basis of a study and found that power naps protect the cardiovascular system in particular. The study showed that napping regularly reduced the risk of heart disease by 37 % (Shari Langemak, WELT, 2013). The same success could be achieved through mediation (Jeanie Lerche Davis, 2018—2020).
In order to go deeper into the matter of rest, I would like to explain both the neurological and the physical effects of mediation.
The practice of meditation appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits — from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. Studies report that meditation helps to relieve our subjective level of anxiety and depression and improves attention, concentration and general mental well-being. (Alice G. Walton, 2015)
The nice thing about meditating is the flexibility that you associate with the subject. Because you can meditate at any time from anywhere in the world — you determine the form of meditation yourself. For example, you can bridge possible waiting periods very well, learn to control anxiety attacks better and much more. Meditation can take many forms. I will introduce you to some more common methods.
The origin of the word meditation
“The word meditation comes from the Latin verb mederi that means to care. In Sanskrit, the word for meditation is instead bhāvanā, which means to devote ourselves to spiritual growth, to cultivate the memory of ourselves. With the word meditation in general we refer to an array of spiritual and psychological practices initially developed thousands of years ago in India. In the ancient Hindu tradition several techniques for meditation were developed and collected under the word yoga” (FF,VC and CC, 2014).
Yoga means: tightly blind together; and was taught through 30 initiatic transmissions from teacher to disciple in the Hindu tradition. “The main goal that yoga tries to achieve is to calm the psycho-mental flow and to stop the most dynamic parts of the unconscious, (Eliade 1970)” (FF,VC and CC, 2014).
Let’s get back to our actual topic: Meditative breaks
Breathing plays an essential role in mediation. If you manage to train yourself to breathe slowly and sensually, you are already on the right track — the first step towards recovery and mental success. The mindfulness of breathing (Anāpānasati) is considered as one of the most important exercises of body awareness. “It consists in focusing the attention on breathing in a gentle and non-judgmental way” (Buddhadasa 1976; Sole´-Leris 1988, 57–58). You have to pay attention to the tactile sensations of the air that comes in and out from the nostrils. No effort has to be made to control the breathing, but a 100 practice of concentration of attention, (FF,VC and CC, 2014). This means wherever you are, you can always find the time to do the Anāpānasati Meditation Style. The only thing you have to do is to concentrate and focus on your breathing. Meditation has gained millions of converts, helping them ease chronic pain, anxiety, stress, improve heart health, boost mood and immunity, and even resolve pregnancy problems (Jeanie Lerche Davis, 2018—2020). It also supports the brain functions and helps to preserve the aging process of the brain. A study from UCLA has proven that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. “Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain — although older meditators still had some volume loss compared to younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as the non-meditators.” (Alice G. Walton, 2015)
One of the most interesting studies conducted at Yale University found that mindfulness meditation reduces activity in the default mode network (DMN). This brain network is responsible for thought migration and self-referential thoughts — also known as monkey mind. The DMN is “on” or active when our mind is only wandering from thought to thought. This process is usually associated with being less happy. The term overthinker is becoming more and more common in this context these days. Thinking and worrying about both the past and the future can be stressful for many people. Nevertheless, it can also have a calming effect on the body. Several studies have shown that meditation seems to do just that, because of its calming effect on the DMN. And even when the mind begins to wander because of the new connections that are formed, meditators can snap out of it better.
“Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness.” (Goyal, 2013)
Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms. In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that after meditation training, changes in the areas of the brain related to mood and arousal were also associated with improvements in the participants’ feelings — i.e., their psychological well-being. (Alice G. Walton, 2015)
How to meditate
There are multiple ways to meditate and find inner peace for a short period of time, whenever it seems to be necessary.
How to Do It Daily (Leo Babauta, 2012)
1. Commit to just 2 minutes a day
2. Pick a time and trigger
3. Find a quiet spot
4. Sit comfortably
5. Start with just 2 minutes
6. Focus on your breath
It is important to first become familiar with different meditation processes to figure out which one works best for you. Step by step is recommended. Once you have managed to find the right way to do it, try to meditate at least once a day for 2 to 10 minutes. The first positive effects will become apparent after some time. And this is exactly the moment when motivation increases and meditation becomes a daily companion, which should lift your mood and increase your well-being, especially on a stressed working day.
How startups deal with the topic of meditation
There are some new companies which have been built up in the past couple of years, also called Startups, which have been dealing with the topic Meditation for a while now and are striving for continuous optimization. Calm is one of the most successful startups in this scene. It is a software company based in San Francisco and was founded there in 2017.
Calm offers with its app the following services for its users: breathing exercises, attention and falling asleep exercises. (Anne-Katrin Schade, 2019)
Some of the meditation exercises are free of charge — for the use of the remaining applications, an annual subscription “Calm Premium” is required for 59.99 US dollars. (Imke Weiter, 2020) The app founders state that more than 1.5 million people – as of 2019 – have taken out a premium subscription. Annual sales amount to 80 million US dollars – as of 2018. 150 million US dollars were forecast for 2019. The company is now estimated to be worth over 1 billion US dollars. (Angelica LaVito, 2019)
“Mental health was something people didn’t really talk about until recently. Something is changing really dramatically. There’s a societal shift of people taking care of their minds and being more interested in sleep and self care.” (Michael Acton Smith, 2018)
To sum it up; Calm is leading the meditative startup scene — followed by Headspace (London). These two companies take care of the regeneration of the human brain, as well as the physical damage that the body has suffered over a period of time.
Resume—“Recharge to Restart”
In order to gain new energy for the further work process, you must first interrupt this process and take a break. Only after at least 10 to 30 minutes, both body and mind can regain full performance, just like in a restart. Therefore a break in the form of a meditation unit is more than recommended. How exactly this meditation looks like, you can decide for yourself.
Take your time and start to breathe.
GründerAtelier attaches great importance to mental health. It supports our creative process and gives us new strength especially on stressful days. We have been privately engaged in meditation for several years now and would like to integrate it into our daily work from now on. We invite our employees to participate in an internal Mediations Challenge. The idea is not only to create closeness to each other, but also to support each other and to unite our positive energy. This challenge should become part of our work process and thus determine the more than necessary daily break.
We look forward to taking you on this exciting journey with us!
Shari Langemak, WELT (2013). Was Sie beim Powernap beachten müssen. Retrieved from: https://www.welt.de/gesundheit/article120004211/Was-Sie-beim-Powernap-beachten-muessen.html
Magdalena Eitenberger, MA (2015). Power napping Anleitung: 11 Schritte. Retrieved from:
FRANCO FABBRO, VIVIANA CAPURSO, AND CRISTIANO CRESCENTINI (FF,VC and CC) (2014). Claudio Naranjo’s Contribution to Meditation in the Light of Neuropsychology. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270810559_Claudio_Naranjo%27s_Contribution_toMeditation_in_the_Light_of_Neuropsychology
Jeanie Lerche Davis, (2018—2020). Meditation Balances the Body’s Systems. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/transcendental-meditation#1
Steven Gans, MD (2019). The 4 Stages of Sleep (NREM and REM Sleep Cycles). Retrieved from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-four-stages-of-sleep-2795920
Meg Selig, (2017). How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201704/how-do-work-breaks-help-your-brain-5-surprising-answers
Alice G. Walton, (2015). 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain. Retrieved from:
Leo Babauta, (2012). How to Meditate Daily. Retrieved from:
Anne-Katrin Schade, (2019). Als deutsches Unternehmen wären wir nie so erfolgreich geworden. Retrieved from: https://www.gruenderszene.de/business/calm-meditations-app
Imke Weiter, (2020). Meditations-App “Calm” im Test: Funktioniert die Entspannung am Handy? Retrieved from: https://www.emotion.de/leben-arbeit/work-life-balance/calm-app-meditation
Angelica LaVito, (2019). Relaxation app Calm raises $88 million, valuing it $1 billion. Retrieved from: