What do Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Jack Dorsey have in common? Being wildly rich, of course, as well as respected pioneers in their industries. But the billionaire moguls also share a habit that appears to give its enthusiasts even more health benefits than previously thought: They meditate.
Based on new research, the billionaires’ club might just be onto something revolutionary with their meditation pursuit. While meditation has long been touted for its mentally soothing qualities, it turns out that the practice may also improve your gut health. A new study of Buddhist monks found that deep meditation carried out over several years could help regulate the gut microbiome, plus lower the risk of physical and mental ill health, The Guardian reports.
“The microbiota enriched in monks was associated with a reduced risk of anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease and could enhance immune function,” the researchers wrote in the study published in General Psychiatry. “Overall, these results suggest that meditation plays a positive role in psychosomatic conditions and well-being.”
If you’ve never meditated, there’s no real downside except blocking out time, even just a few minutes per day. Meditating generally involves clearing one’s mind and sometimes focusing on your breathing rhythm or a mantra. Breathe in, breathe out, and let life’s daily frustrations drift away.
And if you want insight into how meditation has become a game-changer for the likes of Gates, Branson, and Dorsey, read on for their own experiences.
Meditation became Gates’s new favorite habit in 2018. While he had previously thought the practice was a “woo-woo thing” not for him, the Microsoft cofounder is now a firm believer. He meditates two two three times a week, for about 10 minutes each time. And it’s helped the big thinker think more clearly.
“I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports,” he wrote on Gates Notes. “For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them.”
Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is passionate about his morning routine starting at 5 a.m. with exercise and mindfulness. And he’s added meditation to his regimen. “I’m new to meditation, but my son Sam practices it regularly and I am a huge believer in the benefits of looking after your mind as well as your body,” he said of the activity in 2018, as he launched the world’s first meditation-focused flight via Virgin Australia.
Like Branson, Dorsey has a strict morning routine beginning at 5 a.m., which includes intermittent fasting, five-mile walks, and cold showers. But first, he dedicates time to meditation, as he told Basis. The cofounder of Twitter and Block (formerly Square) tries to meditate for one hour in the morning, and another hour at night, saying it has given him enhanced mental clarity over the past two decades. He practices Vipassana meditation, an ancient Buddhis technique known as “insight meditation,” which involves silence and non-judgment.
In fact, while running both Twitter and Square, Dorsey found that meditation was crucial to keeping him sane amid the stress. It allowed him “to stay above water” at work, he said.
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