Why The World’s Most Famous People Meditate
“Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream…”
These words were sung more than 50 years ago, by the most popular music group of all time: the Beatles. At the time, they were largely singing to the youth-in-revolt, the hippies and activists of the 1960s who rejected mainstream consumer culture, and opted instead to start a new artistic Renaissance, a spiritual revolution.
But over the course of the last 50 years, those “flower children” have grown up to become bankers, businessmen, professors and scientists, philosophers and politicians – not to mention many of the most famous actors, artists and entertainers in the world.
But the movement toward inner peace, meditation and spiritual awakening continues, and the message has spread beyond the fringe, the counter culture. Meditation and mindfulness has become a mainstream phenomenon, embraced by many of the most successful and influential people in every field of human endeavor.
Let’s take a look at who these super-successful meditators are, and why they do it.
CEOs Who Meditate
Billionaire investment banker Ray Dalio is a prime example. Inspired by the Beatles, he took up the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) more than 40 years ago. Since then, he has gone on to found Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the United States.
Dalio spoke at a TM town hall in 2014, telling the audience, “Meditation, more than any other factor, has been the reason for what success I’ve had.”
He believes in it so much, that he encourages his employees to learn TM, and even covers half the cost of their classes. He claims that it helps both him and his employees stay calm, and deal with stressful situations in creative and innovative ways – which is essential to staying ahead in the fiercely competitive world of Wall Street.
But Dalio isn’t the only one in the business world who has discovered the benefits of meditation. There’s also Marc Benioff, founder of cloud-based computing giant salesforce.com, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Bill Ford, CEO of Ford Motor Co., media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and of course the tech visionary and co-founder of Apple computers, Steve Jobs.
Artists Who Meditate
The Beatles aren’t the only famous artists to turn to meditation. In the music world alone, there are too many examples to list – like Donovan, the Beach Boys, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Steve Vai, Tom Petty, John Denver, Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, and the co-founders of Def Jam Recordings, Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, just to name a few.
Simmons could just as well be included in the above list of CEOs. Besides Def Jam, he is also the founder of Rush Communications, an umbrella corporation which includes clothing lines (Phat Farm and Tantris), media outlets (Def Jam Enterprises, Def Pictures, All Def Digital) and even a few non-profits. He’s authored several best-selling books, which advocate mindfulness, meditation, veganism and non-violence. He also released an app called “Meditation Made Simple,” to accompany his book Success Through Stillness.
The list of actors and Hollywood celebrities who meditate is also enormous. Jim Carrey, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Aniston, Russell Brand, Jerry Seinfeld, Cameron Diaz, Ellen Degeneres, Hugh Jackman and Eva Mendes are all known to be meditation practitioners. Not to mention the celebrated directors Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, George Lucas and Clint Eastwood.
And we would be remiss not to acknowledge Oprah Winfrey, the most powerful woman in media. Another famous TM practitioner, Oprah has used her considerable influence to spread the word about meditation and mindfulness, and bring these spiritual teachings and wisdom traditions into millions of living rooms across America and around the world.
And along the way she has helped launch the careers of many New Age spiritual teachers, and catapulted them into international fame – including Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Marianne Williamson.
Politicians Who Meditate
U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan is probably not the kind of person you would expect to practice mindfulness meditation. He describes himself as a “half-Irish, half-Italian quarterback from Ohio.” But no matter what his background, Ryan has become a major proponent of mindfulness in the nation’s capital.
He leads the “Quiet Time Caucus,” a weekly 30 minute meditation group for members of Congress. He also wrote a book entitled A Mindful Nation: How A Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit.
And Ryan isn’t the only politician who meditates, either. U.S. Representatives Tony Cardenas, Colleen Hanabusa, and Hank Johnson are all meditators, and so are Senator Mazie Hirono, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and California governor Jerry Brown.
But when it comes to meditation and politics, no story is more inspiring than that of Joachim Chissano, former president of Mozambique. After helping liberate his country from Portuguese rule, Chissano became president in 1986. He took charge of a country in peril – collapsed infrastructure, poverty, famine, and a decade long civil war.
Chissano introduced sweeping progressive reforms, instituting a democratic government, free elections, a free market economy, and successful peace talks with the rebel opposition.
Then in 1992, Chissano discovered Transcendental Meditation, and began sharing it with other government officials. Soon, Chissano had his generals practicing TM, along with all of their police and military personnel. Some 30,000 civilians were taught the technique as well. The result was a country transformed – the civil war was ended, crime rates were reduced, the country was at peace and economic growth sky-rocketed.
It seems that inner peace really can lead to peace in the world.
Meditation Is For Everyone
The list goes on and on. From world-class athletes like ballet superstar Megan Fairchild and the Yankee’s Derek Jeter, to some of the most brilliant minds in science and philosophy, like Daniel Dennett, Rupert Sheldrake, John Hagelin and Buckminster Fuller.
The bottom line is that meditation is for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you do, meditation can help you reach your highest potential, to be the best you can be.
And you might just find spiritual fulfillment, while you’re at it.
As you can see, many of the world’s most successful people, from all different fields, have one thing in common: they meditate. Which begs the question, why do they do it? What do they get from just sitting quietly, once or twice a day?
Well, there are probably as many different reasons to meditate as there are people who do it. But I think we can group most of them together into a handful of categories. Here are 5 of the most common reasons why famous and successful people meditate, and the biggest benefits they get from it.
Probably the #1 reason why people meditate is that it calms and relaxes them. Whether you’re a CEO or a single mom, life can be stressful. And the pressure only increases at the highest levels of achievement and competition. If you don’t find a healthy way to deal with it, you’re in trouble.
Businessmen like Dalio, Benioff, and insurance executive Ramani Ayer use meditation to cope with the stress of the workplace, just as artists like Madonna and Paul McCartney use it to deal with the pressure of life in the public eye. Because no matter what your line of work, staying calm and relaxed is the key to performing at your best, and living a happy and balanced life.
2. Well Being
One of the biggest benefits of meditation is the powerful effects it can have on your health and well-being. Studies have linked meditation to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, improved digestion and immune system function. It can help with depression, anxiety, addiction, pain relief and eating disorders.
It seems that a new study is released every other week that highlights even more health benefits!
Most of these benefits come from the fact that meditation switches off the body’s “fight-or-flight” stress responses, and activates parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates automatic functions like digestion, immune system, etc. Doing this regularly helps your body balance and regulate itself, significantly reducing your risk of illness.
It’s no surprise that the world’s wealthiest and most successful people have embraced meditation as a way to stay healthy – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Another huge benefit of meditation is that it improves cognition, clarity, focus, and overall brain health. Think about it: no matter what you do, whether you’re a business mogul handling a billion dollar merger, or a surgeon making life or death decision in the operating room, your success depends on your ability to focus, think clearly, and make smart decisions – sometimes in the blink of an eye.
Meditation can help you do just that!
It’s like exercise for your mind. Regular meditation teaches you how to work with your attention, to focus on one thing intently or to relax into more open and diffuse awareness, whatever the situation calls for. It teaches you how to stay loose and relaxed even during hectic and stressful situations, so that you can respond in a positive way instead of reacting on your emotions and instinct.
All of which means you can be fully present and do your best, no matter what it is you do!
Musicians, painters, poets, writers, and artists of all kind swear by meditation as a powerful way to tap into your inner source of inspiration. But you don’t have to be an artist to benefit from this. Whether you’re an investor or business owner, a clerk or a counselor, meditation can help you to approach your life and your work with greater creativity and enthusiasm.
Meditation teaches you how to let go of mundane, habitual thought patterns and open up to new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing, new ways of approaching challenges – both personal and professional. So you can get out of “the rut” of routine and start living an original, and inspired life!
Whether you want to succeed in your career, or simply bring more fun and energy into your home and family life, meditation will help you access your creativity and make the most of each moment.
I saved the best for last. Imagine this:
After many years of hard work and sacrifice, you have finally achieved your wildest dreams. You are one of the most successful people in your field, you are respected and admired around the world, and you’ve earned enough income that you, and your children, and your children’s children will never have to worry about money again.
You have everything you ever wanted, but still… something’s missing. You thought success you would be happy. But now that you have “made it,” you just feel empty.
Sound crazy? It’s not. This is exactly the situation that many of the world’s most successful people have found themselves in. They achieved all their outer goals and ambitions, but inside, they still feel the same – lonely, insecure, afraid and unhappy.
That’s because deep down, everyone of us knows that life is short. That nothing we do or achieve in this world will last. And deep down, on a soul level, everyone of us longs for something transcendent. We want to feel loved, to feel that life has meaning. We long to know our place in the universal scheme of things, to feel connected, to be a part of something bigger than us, something infinite and eternal.
And guess what? Meditation can offer that, too.
Meditation can teach you to be still and silent, to surrender your thoughts, your expectations and attachments. You can transcend the ego, and awaken to your true Self.
Through meditation, you can realize first-hand that there is only one energy, one consciousness, one life, one Spirit… and it’s you, and me, and everyone. We are one, inter-connected, in a way that the mind cannot comprehend – but you can know it and feel it in the core of your being.
That’s what the world’s most successful people have realized. They have turned to meditation in order to find the transcendent Truth, the ultimate meaning, the ultimate experience of enlightenment, awakening, and spiritual liberation.
And I can’t think of any goal more worthy than that.