Nina Godiwalla on How to Integrate Meditation Into Daily Routines

In Chapter 18 of 22 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, author Nina Godiwalla answers "Where Has Practicing Meditation Been Most Helpful as Your Career Responsibilities Have Grown?"  She transitions from quiet, sitting meditation to integrate meditation into her lifestyle.  This helps Godiwalla stop living a double life of crazy and quiet.  Now a mother, she applies meditation principles to focus, listen and let go of anxieties and stress.  Godiwalla is the author of "Suits: A Woman on Wall Street".  She is also a public speaker on workplace diversity and founder and CEO of Mindworks, where she teaches mind-based stress reduction techniques to help organizations improve employee wellbeing.  Godiwalla holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, an MA in Creative Writing from Dartmouth University and her BBA from the University of Texas at Austin. 


Erik Michielsen:  Where has practicing meditation been most helpful as your career responsibilities have grown?

Nina Godiwalla:  Well, integrating meditation as not just meditation so I see when I think of meditation or I think when people think of meditation is just sitting quietly, not do anything. And what I’ve had is, I’ve had a long practice of doing that over 10 years of the quiet sitting meditation and what I found at some point was I would have – I would go into my crazy world of business and then I would walk out maybe do a retreat for a weekend or do a long retreat or do my 30 minute sitting in my house and the reality is, is I was living kind of this double life in that I would go into the craziness and be that crazy person and then I would go into the quiet world that I had and be that quiet person and so in the last few years, my focus has really been living the meditation lifestyle if you will and that is – meditation is really about attention.  It’s about where you choose to put your attention at any given time and my focus now is putting it into my life so, wherever I am being able to actually choose where I put my attention. 

If I’m doing any sort of interview or if I’m doing something I’m very focused on listening.  Listening is one of the critical, critical things of meditation or if I have something very small I’m doing, like I’m walking from the door of my, you know, my car door to a building, my focus I call it you know, it’s my walking meditation where I just focus on the bottom of my feet and the reality is, is I’m kind of letting go of all the anxieties and things that I think are so important and everything during that day that I just can’t let go of and has to get done and somebody said this and so and so said this. 

I just kind of let go of all the thoughts and it’s – for me it’s how do I put it into my day every single day and it’s also more of a challenge because I have a baby so I will tell you when you’re waking up, I don’t know every three hours of the day and you’re only sleeping in 45-minute slots.  The idea of sitting there and doing an hour of meditation when you’re extraordinarily sleep deprived is not as practical and the reality is, is I don’t want to let go of that lifestyle but how do you make it your lifestyle and I have had enough introduction to the effects it has and how amazing it is to do the sitting, to where I have that – I have that, I’m able to do that. There’s a lot of people when I train people in stress management through meditation, a lot of people don’t want to sit and they don’t want to learn it that way and I have an attitude and I – not everyone would share that but it’s like, “Okay, if you don’t want to sit and do it this way through body scans or through sitting meditation, let’s talk about how you can integrate the mindset into your life.”  And I’ll take people through that angle and if later on they, you know, they build themselves up to place of sitting, that’s wonderful, but if they never even make it to sitting, it doesn’t matter to me as long as they have an understanding of they have control over their destiny.