Five reasons for yoga and meditation

Tuesday 10th March 2020 09:07 EDT

One: Coronavirus, impending job losses, economic doom, school closures- it’s a stressful world out there. As the Dalai Lama said, “when every 8-year-old child is taught meditation, then there shall be peace in the world”. Interestingly, schools in the UK have added mindfulness to the curriculum to help children cope with stress.

Two: Over a year ago, I went to meditate with Buddhist monks in the jungles of Laos. The Hindus, Buddhists and surrealists all know the world is an illusion. So they can be detached from its pains. Happiness comes from that realisation and that realisation comes as the ancient Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, carrying the ‘Song of God’ Himself says, comes from meditation.

Whilst some people are afraid of ‘too much faith’, I know I can carry a mandir around with me in my heart and soul. I like the Islamic, Hindu and Christian traditions of prayer beads – I used to have some on my wrist, I could just pull out at times. Of course to others, this smacks of ‘fanaticism’ – poor souls.

Western scientists recently discovered that Hindu-Buddhist style meditation stimulates areas of the brain which cause a feeling of happiness.

Three: When former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, took office he said he wanted a measure for happiness not just economic growth (GDP). Why? Because despite a relentless rise in British GDP since it’s ever been measured, our happiness has not had the same trajectory. Indeed, some of the happiest people in the world live in countries which have the lowest GDP.

The American Founding Father revolutionaries under their Constitution even sought to rid themselves of the British ‘in pursuit of happiness’. Happiness is therefore a legitimate political goal. Even though over 200 years since its founding, the country with the world’s largest GDP does not have the greatest happiness. Indeed, some parts of the world think that country brings the most unhappiness – but that’s not right.

Four: I recently judged a competition at London Business School. Meditation - Steve Jobs did it. As you take your MBA and try to emulate the greatest businessman of the century, don’t forget it was his meditation he referenced time and again to success.

When was I happiest here in Laos? When cycling down a remote jungle hill or a moonlit deserted street at midnight. Why? It was the meditation the monks here told me of. My mind was empty. Tom Singh, founder of New Look and friend, mentor and investor in my hedge fund said to me recently he maintains happiness by keeping his mind empty at times.

Five: In Islam they pray five times a day traditionally. You could meditate five times day. Most wouldn’t find time for it five times a week. Time away from your screens, and work. Politically maybe more thinking time and less shouting and screaming time may improve the quality of our politics, which whilst outstanding compared to most countries, is at something of a low point after Brexit.

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