Connolly: Vail, where is your mind at? Daily meditation is a powerful practice |

Connolly: Vail, where is your mind at? Daily meditation is a powerful practice

By Rod Connolly
Dogma Athletica

If you can come out of the COVID-19 quarantine with a regular mindfulness practice, then you have found a pot of gold during this whole experience.

I can’t state strongly enough how a daily practice will change your life. If you are hesitant to begin or are struggling to practice regularly, I urge you to start and commit each morning or stay with it if you are new to a regular practice.

This isn’t mystical or esoteric. I am a very pragmatic person in general. The utility of a regular practice will positively impact every facet of your life. The quality of your life largely depends on the quality of your mind. Every experience you feel, every emotion you process, every decision you make all takes place in the realm of the mind.

A regular tending to the mind creates a skill that allows you to live at a higher level. It allows you to feel and notice the emotion, but not get taken down the rabbit hole of emotional spiraling. You began to live life intentionally instead of most people’s chronic, distracted, autopilot state.

I would be of no use to anyone in my life if I didn’t meditate every morning. So while a regular practice may seem very inward or effete, the loved ones in your life will reap the rewards of your regular, personal practice.

At a time when most people’s anxiety is elevated, a habitual meditation practice develops your ability to recognize and regulate your emotional well-being. This increases your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is what we use when we empathize with our coworkers, have deep conversations about our relationships with significant others or attempt to manage a distraught child. It allows us to connect with others, understand ourselves better and live a more authentic, healthy and happy life.

So, the real question is, how do we learn emotional intelligence? Research shows meditation is the gateway.

Emotional intelligence and a mindfulness practice

Mindfulness is the most clear evidence-based solution. We can use mindfulness to build and maintain our emotional intelligence through enhanced self-awareness and self-regulation. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to work wonders on reducing or eliminating your distress when faced with tense situations.

Just as a professional athlete needs to train their bodies for strength, effective leaders and communicators need to train their mind for strength as well — and meditation and a consistent mindfulness practice are the most powerful tools to help achieve this. 

Meditation is not spiritual fluff — this exercise physically changes the structure of the brain, builds new neural pathways and can weaken others. In particular, research has shown that meditation can strengthen the following areas related to emotional intelligence: 

Emotional self-control: Meditation helps to control our immediate reactions. For example, it weakens neural connections to the fear center of the brain — the amygdala — where primal reactions such as fear and anger are triggered. In contrast, it also strengthens the neural connection to the assessment center of the brain — the prefrontal cortex — where rational thought and logic reside. 

Strengthening these connections allows for more thoughtful responses as a leader and an overall calmer demeanor. 

Empathy: Being able to understand how others feel and tune into their emotional state helps us become more effective communicators, and therefore more effective leaders. 

Research shows that the connection between the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex — the “me center” of the brain that references back to personal perspective and also infers other people’s state of mind — and the insula — involved in “gut-level” feelings — becomes stronger after meditation. This strengthened connection enhances our capacity to understand where another person is coming from, and put ourselves in their shoes. 

Self-awareness: Meditation encourages greater “gut level” intuition, which is governed by the insula region of the brain. The role of the insula is to monitor bodily sensations and assesses whether they are benign or harmful, and a strengthened insula will be better able to pick up on bodily cues from the muscles, skin, ears and eyes, if something doesn’t feel right. 

Together, a strengthened insula and prefrontal cortex (where logic and rational thought reside) help develop the ability to pause, reflect and evaluate how we think and feel on a daily basis. 
This greater self-awareness can, therefore, help guide leaders when it comes to making hard decisions. 

Conflict management: Effectively navigating a conflict requires the ability to find common ground and understand different perspectives. This is made possible when we approach a conflict with a mindful approach. 

As shown above, meditation enables this mindful approach by improving emotional self-control, self-awareness and empathy. It helps us develop the ability to acknowledge that we have our own biases, emotions and sense of distorted perspective. This opens the door to ownership and acceptance of responsibility.

Once we are aware of our emotions and bias, we can prevent them from affecting our decisions or actions, all while being more sensitive to a different point of view. 

Daily morning meditation with Dogma Athletica

Rod Connolly

Rod Connolly is an exercise physiologist and owner of Dogma Athletica.

At Dogma Athletica we build a mindfulness practice into all of our individual and group sessions. Our clients and students have noticed the benefit dramatically as they are navigating the COVID-19 crisis.

We use a daily meditation morning meditation practice as part of our Operation Immune System Package we released recently. All of our practitioners are feeling great. We will re-release this three-week package again on April 13. It uses meditation, nutrition, supplementation and specific types of cardio to bolster your immune system. And by doing it you get 50% off a year’s subscription to Calm guided meditation app.

If you want to reserve a spot for the re-release of Dogma Athletica’s Operation Immune System Package, email Dogma Athletica general manager Jessica Moser at

Rod Connolly is an exercise physiologist and owner of Dogma Athletica.

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