Mindfulness and meditation meets the boardroom

Some executives are hoping to make better decisions with the power of thought, writes John Anthony. JOHN ANTHONY Last updated 05:00, September 6 2015   A university wellbeing retreat is helping business executives find their inner zen through mindfulness and meditation. The benefits of meditation on health and personal wellbeing are no secret with business moguls including Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs and even Rupert Murdoch all having been proponents of the practice. Now AUT academics are helping New Zealand business leaders improve their wellbeing and find inner calm through a two-day wellbeing retreat. Greenshoot Pacific NZ director Dave Watson says he would definitely recommend the Auckland University of Technology AUT wellbeing retreat. Supplied Greenshoot Pacific NZ director Dave Watson says he would definitely recommend the Auckland University of Technology AUT wellbeing retreat. AUT lecturer and wellbeing facilitator Dr Anne Messervy said the course takes a holistic approach to improving well being through a range of seminars which included mindfulness and meditation. “Managers who meditate tend to increase their emotional intelligence, and we know there’s a strong linkage between emotional intelligence and your effectiveness as a leader,” Messervy said. The university run a single two-day retreat earlier in May, attracting about 40 executives. Two shorter workshops had also attracted about 40 people, she said. Greenshoot Pacific NZ director, Dave Watson, said he attended the first two-day course after he won a spot on the retreat. He said it came at the perfect time because he was going through an extremely stressful patch at work. “I had no hesitation about going on it at all,” Watson said. He said the...

During meditation, more relaxed neurons

Photo by Dan Gorodezky and Caroline Tisdale. BY LIONEL JIN CHENTIAN STAFF REPORTER Tuesday, September 8, 2015 Entering medical school fresh out of Princeton, Judson Brewer found himself one of many stressed out medical students. “I wasn’t coping well, I was frustrated and I was just getting into my way,” said Brewer. “Then, I started meditating, and that was the best thing that has happened to me.” Twenty years later, Brewer, now the director of research at the Center of Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, is focused on finding out how meditation affects the human brain. In a recent paper, published this September in the Journal of Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, a team of researchers led by Brewer reports that expert meditators see reduced activity in a brain network associated with mind wandering. These findings held true for a sample size significantly larger than those of previous studies, and suggested that experienced meditators may indeed be better able to shut out distractions compared to novice ones. “The one major contribution of this study lies in showing that previous findings are reproducible,” said Massachusetts General Hospital neuroscientist Thomas Zeffiro, acknowledging the recent upswell of concern following a study that suggested that over half of the studies published in leading psychology journals may not be reproducible. Brewer added that while previous studies compared brain activity during meditation to brain activity during rest, this study compared the former with brain activity during another cognitive task. Working with meditators who had an average of 10,000 hours of experience, psychiatry...