Meditation Makes for Better Meetings, Study Shows

When it comes to meetings, a little meditation can make a big difference, according to the Kyoto Convention Bureau in Kyoto, Japan.

In a recent study, the results of which were released today, the Kyoto Convention Bureau found that at least 10 minutes of meditation before a meeting can significantly improve event efficiency, boosting retention of taught information by an average of 12.5 percent overall, and by up to 117 percent for a single learning task.

"It is a simple principle: If your tea cup is already filled, there is no point in pouring more tea in it," said Rev. Matsuyama, a Zen Buddhist priest who assisted the Kyoto Convention Bureau with its research. "People who come to attend seminars and meetings are often under pressure and tired either because of long journeys or work-based stress. If they are to take onboard new information, they must first make room for it. Simple meditation exercises can make all the difference. Enter the meeting in a calm state of mind; take a few deep breaths. The difference is profound and it can also have a brilliant effect in bringing out a lot of positive energy in you."

As part of its research, the Kyoto Convention Bureau assembled a group of 20 individuals taking part in a regular event, who undertook five separate exercises — including memory, language, comprehension and listening tests — on two separate occasions 12 days apart. Before the first session, there was no preparation; before the second, there was a 10-minute meditation exercise.

"The findings of the survey are simply astonishing," said Kyoto Convention Bureau spokesperson James Kent. "Japan has traditionally been known for meditation and we are very happy to have some of the finest schools of meditation and teachers here. We are taking the results of the research very seriously and making a concerted effort to include them in future events and meetings."

According to Kent, the Kyoto Convention Bureau is starting a pro-meditation campaign based on its findings — despite the state of meetings in Japan, where the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis have hurt the meetings industry.

"The event industry calendar here is steadying after the recent turmoil across the country," he said. " However, this has nonetheless made the introduction of these sessions slower than we hoped. Despite these challenges, we are so convinced by the research that we are starting a campaign to persuade organizers around the world to take up the use of meditation. Above all, these simple five- to 10-minute meditation exercises are not meant to take time away from people's work — but to help them be more successful at their jobs."