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Gary Vaynerchuk, the vocal social media entrepreneur, says meditation is going to be the “next big business wave.” And why shouldn’t it be? Increased creativity, improved focus, reduced stress and anxiety and more without breaking a sweat — what’s not to like? If some entrepreneur does find a way to help meditation catch on with the masses, it will only be catching up to what Bill Harris, founder of CenterPointe Research Institute and creator of Holosync, has known for the past 25 years. And it’s not just that meditation helps you relax, it actually changes the makeup of your brain to improve your cognitive abilities.
Bill Harris, author of The New Science of Super Awareness and creator of Holosync, has been teaching the benefits of meditation for decades.
Recent studies have shown that practicing meditation increases gray matter in the brain. And that can lead to improved focus, enhanced memory and reduced stress among other benefits. I’ve made meditation a part of my morning routine for the last several years, often with the help of Holosync, and have noticed a huge difference in my life. And Harris recently released his new book, The New Science of Super Awareness, so I gave him a call to hear his thoughts on the world of meditation today. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation:
What Do You Think Of The Latest Brain Studies On Meditation?
“The new brain science discoveries are absolutely astounding,” Harris said. “It’s really an exciting time. What scientists now know is that all typical human problems like anxiety, lack of motivation, lack of confidence, depression, brain fog and inability to make decisions are the result of parts of the brain either being overactive or underactive.
“And to go to the other side of the coin, things that people want — like more creativity, more confidence, more motivation, the ability to enter flow states and on and on — these are also a function of the brain. And meditation enhances the part of the brain that you need enhanced, and calms the part of the brain you need to calm. So things that used to be thought of as being very, very difficult to [change] now can be changed much more easily.”
Who Is Meditation Good For?
As an entrepreneur, meditation helps me stay focused, creative and calm. I have less stress and anxiety, and I have more energy to face everyday problems in my business and find solutions. But meditation can benefit anyone who relies on their brain, entrepreneur or not, as Harris points out:
“Meditation also applies to the corporate environment because if someone can become more creative, have higher levels of pattern-recognition, greater confidence, greater motivation, greater focus, greater concentration, less anxiety and less brain fog, obviously they’re going to be more valuable to a company.”
Why Does Meditation Work?
Harris believes that your brain is in conflict: “There’s a war going on inside your brain. There are two main parts, and depending on which one is running the show, your life can be quite different.”
You’ve likely heard about the Stanford Marshmallow Test from the late 1960s. Researchers stuck kids in a room alone with one marshmallow and proposed a deal. The researcher would leave the room for several minutes, and if the child could refrain from eating the marshmallow until the researcher returned several minutes later, they could have a second marshmallow. It was a test to see if kids could delay gratification. Some of the kids could, and some couldn’t. But what researchers discovered by monitoring these kids throughout adulthood is that the kids who could delay gratification were more likely to be successful in life.
Harris has followed the study for decades, including a 2011 update that utilized modern brain scan technology: “When brain imaging came into vogue, they found out that those who could delay gratification had very strong robust prefrontal cortexes [which controls] problem solving, learning from mistakes, creativity, pattern recognition, rational thinking, delaying gratification, will-power, etc. And they had very calm limbic systems. The other kids, that couldn’t delay gratification, had overactive limbic systems and small, not very functional prefrontal cortexes.”
The Prefrontal Cortex Versus The Limbic System
“The limbic system, when it’s overactive, does two main things that are problematic,” Harris said. “One is that it’s the source of fight or flight. Which is great if you have a life threatening situation, but because modern life is so stressful, people go into fight or flight when they can’t find their cell phone temporarily, or when someone cuts them off or when someone disagrees with them in a meeting — a million things that are not life threatening. When you go into fight or flight, blood flows away from your brain into extremities so you can fight or flee. You can’t look at long term consequences, you lose IQ points and you do stupid stuff that you later regret.
“The other thing that the limbic system does that’s problematic is that it’s the source of intense, momentary desires like eating stuff that you know isn’t good for you, or losing your temper or blowing off exercising or procrastinating. And so on and so on.