Meditate to be better than a goldfish

MBA student at Singapore’s Nanyang aims to develop concentration skills and reduce stress levels

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As part of my MBA degree at Nanyang Business School, I sought relief from my stressful student life by joining a meditation and leadership workshop with Laurence Freeman.


Father Freeman is a Benedictine monk who became famous for practising meditation with Lee Kuan Yew, the prime minister of Singapore between 1959 and 1990. Meditation describes the mental discipline that helps individuals to discover their inner consciousness and to develop spiritual energy. It can also promote relaxation and calm a distracted mind.

I was there because I wanted to deal with issues caused by my frenzied lifestyle: insomnia, coffee addiction, hair loss, you name it.

In the first lesson I discovered the average person’s attention span is incredibly short. Since the digital revolution, most people can only focus for just eight seconds. This is even less than a goldfish, which has an attention span of nine seconds.

In his soothing voice, Fr Freeman outlined his strategy for dealing with stress: meditation which provides a moment of silence in a noisy world. This has the power to reduce anxiety, increase productivity and improve human relationships, Fr Freeman explained.

Under instruction, I sat with my eyes closed, back straight, hands folded on my lap, and soundlessly recited a mantra. Pretty soon I discovered just how difficult it is to focus for 10 minutes.

After two days of practising meditation, I left the workshop feeling calmer. I vowed to practise regularly — and made a promise to beat the goldfish in the discipline of attention.

Today, I still get distracted during meditation, but I appreciate that taking this regular time out allows me to relax and withstand stressful situations.


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