By Birgitta Hellmark Lindgren
I started with Acem Meditation to reduce stress. I discovered that it had significant effects on my leadership in a large organisation.
I learned meditation in Acem because I was looking for a tool and a method that could help me recover from an increasing stress problem. I did not primarily start meditating because I wanted to develop my skills as a leader, but my experience has shown me that regular meditation has several specific effects, some of which can help me in my work as a leader. I have three things in mind:
1) Meditation helps me increase the time span between impulse and action (I am a relatively impulsive person by nature).
2) Meditation helps me bring my inner feelings in touch with whatever happens around me (I am an extrovert person).
3) My ability to meet situations with a free mental attitude has improved along with my continuous training in meditation. This helps me to:
– see things that happen from several perspectives – not only my own,
– see that there are several alternatives to choose from, rather than acting on reflex,
– accept that «things are the way they are» even when this does not fit with my own expectations or the way I want things to be.
My role as a leader often requires me to understand and contain my own inner experiences. If I meet challenges in a way that is dominated by doubt and fear, this reduces my freedom of action when I am leading employees through changes.
If I am too self-centered, preoccupied with «my own things,» this reduces my capacity to meet colleagues where they are, with their needs, reflections and emotions.
By extending the time span between impulse and action (or the choice not to act), I increase the space of freedom for my employees (or co-creators) to act or react.
It is easier for my surroundings to understand me when my inner life is synchronized with what happens on the outside of me. When these parts are not in tune, my attempts to communicate with others leave more room for speculation and make it more difficult for my colleagues to determine «where they have me.» While I am saying one thing, my body communicates something else.
When I am able to see what happens from more than one perspective, this increases the possibilities for others to take part in the processes I am leading. It makes it easier for me to take into consideration different ways of seeing things. I create a space for my own creativity when we need to find more than one possible course of action, and I become more receptive to other people’s suggestions.
Over the years, Acem Meditation has helped me see reality as it is rather than the way I would like it to be. This does not mean that I am no longer angry, sad, or frustrated when things do not go my way, but the journey through different emotions toward an accepting attitude goes faster now than it used to. I can also more readily distinguish between what I am able to do something about and what is beyond my control. This has made me more focused when I want to influence my «reality.» As a result, I need to spend less energy, and I am able to tackle a larger number of major challenges than before.
This has also made me seek new challenges. These two sides nurture each other: To live and to choose challenges stimulates my meditative process; and to meditate helps me to live and to seek new challenges.
It feels important to remind myself of how closely connected the meditative process is with my self as an individual, with how I function in my daily life, and how it has helped me both in my leadership roles and in my private life. There is something in meditation that all of us can make use of. It would be exciting to hear more people share their experience with Acem Meditation.
Birgitta Hellmark Lindgren has been practising Acem Meditation since 2001 and has worked for more than ten years with change management. She is currently a business developer at SLU (Swedish Agricultural University).