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The Surprising Key to Success for Many Women

09/11/2012 05:17 EDT | Updated 11/11/2012 05:12 EST
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After interviewing hundreds of accomplished women over the past few years, in my quest to discover the keys to their success, I have become aware of not only treasured insights, but also recurring themes. One of those themes just might surprise you.

For many of these successful women, the importance of having a regular meditation practice is not only important; it has been paramount to helping them achieve career and/or overall life success -- either directly or indirectly.

The practice of meditation is nothing new, nor is it reserved for today's "New Agers" (whatever "New Age" means), as it is so often thought of. Most, if not all, religions have practiced some form of quiet contemplation, reflection and meditation since antiquity. Today, we live in a world where modern scientists and the health and wellness community can all agree that meditation has benefits -- from mental and physical health to spiritual growth.

But what is meditation?

There are many definitions and forms. On a metaphysical level, I have heard it said that meditation is listening to the Universe; and prayer is speaking to it. From science, we know that meditation accesses and develops brain waves that take us into a deeper state of consciousness and relaxation. At a personal development level, it helps us to discover ourselves and believe in our abilities. Here, in this state, we can connect with the soul: the highest spiritual pursuit for many people, across many cultures.

Personally, I have experimented with different forms of meditation over the years, from yoga to contemplative walks in nature, to visualization and breathing exercises. As someone who lives with the condition tinnitus (a ringing noise in the ears), trying to still the mind in a quiet space is challenging at best. But, I believe in the value of meditation and have decided it is time to commit to a strict daily practice, despite this annoying condition I live with. So, given that the importance of meditation is a recurring theme on my show, Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner, I turned to my archives of interviews with a selection of my past guests -- the experts -- for some insight.

Here are some of them:

I am sad to say that one of those women, Aleksandra Knezevic, founder of HA Solutions Inc., recently passed away -- and quite unexpectedly. I had interviewed Knezevic earlier this year about her organization that helps people overcome their mental blocks to achieve their dreams; with meditation being a vital tool. A beautiful, magnetic and energetic woman, she provided one of the simplest explanations of what meditation is that I have come across: "It is going back to yourself." This is a woman whose journey is the quintessential "immigrant success story," having come to Canada from war-torn Serbia, speaking little English, to eventually becoming a successful entrepreneur.

When I asked her about her key to success, she provided the answer in the form of wise advice: "If you would like to change something in your life, just make the decision. And then wake up half an hour early and start the day with 10 minutes of meditation."

Knezevic's business partner, Laure Ampilhac, co-founder of HA Solutions, is also a firm believer in the power of meditation. Ampilhac turned her life around -- from being painfully shy to becoming an outgoing "Queen of Networking" and a public speaker -- in part, through a practice of meditation. She facilitates Meditation Works programs throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Leslie Traill, founder of Sexy Over Sixty, is also an advocate for a disciplined practice of meditation. She incorporates meditation into her life coaching services to help her clients -- women who are in the mid-40s, 50s, 60s and beyond -- learn to meditate, get in touch with their bodies and change their body image in their minds, so they can feel sexy when they otherwise might not. At an age north of 60, Traill looks fantastic, which leads me to believe she must be doing something right.

Lastly, Salimah Kassim-Lakha, is a yoga teacher and founder/director of YogaVision, which offers transformational experiences through kundalini yoga and laughter yoga. Kassim-Lakha has traveled internationally using yoga -- an increasingly popular form of meditation and exercise -- to lead, heal, teach and transform lives.

The interviews for all of these women can be found at: ExtraordinaryWomenTV.com.

If you have a story about how meditation has changed your life, or helped you achieve a goal or success, I would love to hear from you.

In honour of the late Aleksandra Knezevic, her interview is posted below:

This article was originally posted at ShannonSkinner.com.