50 Incredibly Successful People Who Credit Meditation
October 31, 2012 by Staff Writers
While many around the world have long known of the benefits of meditation, Western medical science has just recently begun to take note of the short- and long-term effects meditation can have on the body and mind. The practice has been shown to not only help individuals to relax and de-stress, but also to improve concentration, expand understanding, and to actually create sustained changes in the brain itself.
While meditation has grown in popularity in recent years, many of the most successful people in everything from business to writing have been using it for years to expand their minds and find clarity. Some even credit it with helping them to achieve their goals and to advance their careers. Here are just a few big names in literature, acting, business, politics, and music who’ve used meditation to improve their lives and their work, who may just inspire you to take up meditation yourself.
Writers, Artists, and Thinkers
These well-known authors, artists, and geniuses all have found inspiration and calm in meditation.
- Jonathan Rowson: Chess grandmaster Rowson believes that 14 years of practicing transcendental meditation helped to prepare him mentally to be a chess champion. He has said, “It was by far the best thing I learned at Oxford. I suddenly had more energy, concentrated better, and felt warmer towards other people.”
- Kurt Vonnegut: Vonnegut’s wife and daughter were devoted followers of Transcendental Meditation, and while less so himself, Vonnegut was a practitioner, too. To him, writing was a form of meditation in itself. He said, “I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This is to me is a miracle.”
- Buckminster Fuller: While perhaps best known for his geodesic domes, Buckminster Fuller was also an outspoken advocate for meditation, but not for personal reasons. Fuller believed that meditation should be used for the greater good and to contribute to a more creative, peaceful, sustainable world for everyone.
- William Gibson: Playwright and poet William Gibson (not the equally well-known sci-fi author) was known to practice meditation twice a day. He believed that it helped him to feel more relaxed, energetic, and creative and said that since he’d been meditating he’d never had a dry spell as a writer.
TV Hosts and Journalists
Whether they’re reporting on elections or talking to celebrities, these TV hosts and journalists find a little reprieve from their busy lives in meditation.
- Ellen DeGeneres: Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most popular talk show hosts working today and also a big fan of meditation. She says that meditation helps her to feel good and to recharge before diving back into her busy life.
- James Wolcott: A contributor to the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, journalist Wolcott is a recent devotee of the practice and has written about it several times in his work for these publications.
- Oprah Winfrey: One of the best-known and richest women in the world, Oprah credits meditation with helping her stay focused and grounded. She brought the practice to her staff as well, and reports that both she and her employees are feeling more productive and creative.
- Candy Crowley: Journalist Candy Crowley has gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks after her stint as a presidential debate moderator, in part because of her devotion to meditation. Crowley uses meditation to help her relax, especially during election season.
- Merv Griffin: TV host, singer, actor, and media mogul Merv Griffin was an enthusiastic practitioner of meditation. He even dedicated two episodes of The Merv Griffin Show to mediation and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
- Claire Hoffman:Journalist Claire Hoffman grew up surrounded by meditation (she began meditating at age three) and went on to attend the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment. Today, she writes for numerous publications including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and The Los Angeles Times.
More than a few big names in movies and television have used meditation to advance careers, get healthy, and reduce stress.
- Howard Stern: While it might come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the radio star’s brash on-air personality, Stern is actually a big fan of meditation. Turned on to the practice by his mother, Stern has been using meditation since he was 18, using the practice to relax and to help him quit smoking.
- David Lynch: One of Hollywood’s biggest devotees of transcendental meditation is David Lynch, who has been practicing meditation since 1973. Lynch is such a fan he founded The David Lynch Foundation, which raises money to support the teaching of TM. He believes that meditation helps to drive his creative process.
- Russell Brand: This British actor and comedian spent years struggling with drug use and addiction, and he credits meditation with helping him stay clean and focused.
- Kristen Bell: Actress Kristen Bell uses meditation to help her stay healthy and to reduce stress. She’s such a big fan she got her fiance Dax Shepard in on it, too.
- Hugh Jackman: He may play a lot of bad asses in movies, but in real life, Jackman prefers a more peaceful route. He’s been meditating for more than 15 years and credits the practice with helping him to overcome his OCD and anxiety.
- Miranda Kerr: This model and mom is known for her healthy lifestyle in which meditation plays a key role. She has been known to meditate backstage before hitting the catwalk at fashion shows.
- Martin Scorsese: Oscar-winning director Scorsese, has only been practicing meditation for a few years but has said that it has had a major impact on his life. In 2011 he said, “For the last few years, I’ve been practicing meditation. It’s difficult to describe the effect it’s had on my life. I can only mention maybe a few words: calm, clarity, a balance, and, at times, a recognition. It’s made a difference.”
- Richard Gere: It only makes sense that a devoted Buddhist like Gere would practice meditation. Gere believes that meditation is an essential part of training the mind, stating, “We take for granted that Olympic athletes and professional musicians train daily to achieve mastery of their sport or music. Why wouldn’t the same discipline apply to cultivating the most important qualities of our mind?”
- Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has been meditating for 37 years and says that the practice has given him a calmness that he didn’t previously have.
- Andy Kaufman: Celebrated comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman began practicing meditation while in college. Meditation helped him build the confidence he needed to take his act to comedy clubs. Throughout his life, Kaufman would meditate and do yoga for hours a day, even briefly training to be a teacher of meditation.
Many musicians use meditation to escape the stress of touring or to find inspiration for their work.
- Paul McCartney: Paul McCartney, along with the other members of the Beatles, helped to popularize the practice of transcendental mediation in the Western world. McCartney has said that TM helped to stabilize the band after the crazy 60s and has referred to his practice as a “lifelong gift.”
- Sheryl Crow: In 2006, Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has said that meditation helped her to come to terms with the diagnosis and the treatments that followed.
- Moby: Musician Moby got into meditation through David Lynch and has said he wishes he had done so sooner. In 2009 he said about meditation, “Nothing else helped me quiet my mind and go to a calm, centered, place.”
- Russell Simmons: While not a musician himself (though brother Joseph is), Simmons founded one of the most profitable hip-hop record labels in the world, Def Jam Records. Simmons has become an outspoken advocate for meditation, stating that the practice has helped him to become more present, awake, and giving.
- Mick Jagger: Once known for his hard partying ways, these days Mick Jagger uses others methods to unwind. He now meditates, even taking lengthy sojourns in Laos to meditate and chant with monks.
- Brian Wilson: Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame was such a fan of meditation that he wrote a song about it called aptly “Transcendental Meditation.” He credited the practice with helping him calm his nerves before going on stage.
- Sting:Meditation not only helps rock superstar Sting calm himself before performances, but also get through stressful situations, like getting stuck in an elevator as he did in 2009. Both Sting and his wife practice yoga and meditation daily and have done so for more than 20 years.
How do you get ahead in business? A clear mind, laser-like focus, and creativity certainly don’t hurt. These business leaders say meditation has helped them achieve all of those qualities and more.
- Ray Dalio: Ray Dalio is the founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. Dalio actually built many Transcendental Meditation principles into the firm’s culture and says that meditation helped him to perform better in school and feel more in control of his life.
- Marc Benioff: Former Oracle exec and current CEO at salesforce.com, Marc Benioff has had some pretty stressful and high-powered jobs. To help him cope, he’s been using meditation, a practice that has been part of his daily routine for more than a decade.
- Mitch Kapor: Founder of Lotus Development Mitch Kapor first got interested in meditation during the 1970s, at one point even teaching the practice. In fact, the name of his company derived from a meditative position. Kapor credits his early experiences with meditation (as well as working in a psych unit) as being particularly formative, and played a role in why he would eventually walk away from his billion dollar enterprise.
- Tony Schwartz: As president and CEO of the Energy Project and author of numerous books on productivity and self development, it should come as no surprise that this business leader is a devotee of meditation. Schwartz began meditating in 1989 as a way to slow down his mind and focus his thoughts and advocates the practice to others who want to improve their work lives and reduce stress.
- Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs took Apple from a middle-of-the-road company to a tech supergiant, and part of his success may just be credited to meditation. Jobs believed that Zen meditation taught him how to concentrate and ignore distractions, a key factor in helping to accomplish any goal.
- Bill Ford: Ford Motor Company chairman William Ford is a Buddhist and makes meditation part of his daily routine. He didn’t want employees to miss out, however, and has turned surplus office space into meditation rooms anyone can use.
- Bob Shapiro: VC firm founder and former Monsanto exec Bob Shapiro took an interest in meditation after being introduced to it by a college friend. He didn’t just use the practice to help himself, however. While at Monsanto, Shapiro turned office rooms into meditation spaces for employees and brought in teachers to help other execs learn the practice.
- William George: Harvard professor William George is an expert in management and organizational behavior. He’s also a big proponent of meditation. George believes that leaders need to be mindful and self-aware and that a big part of developing this ability is meditation. When he was CEO at Meditronic, he turned one of the firm’s conference rooms into a quiet space for meditation and continues to do research and host forums on the benefits of meditation in the business world.
- Robert Stiller: Green Mountain Coffee CEO Robert Stiller isn’t just passionate about making great coffee. He’s a meditation devotee and regularly brings in a meditation instructor to the company’s Vermont offices to lead employees in meditation. He says, “If you have a meditation practice, you can be much more effective in a meeting. Meditation helps develop your abilities to focus better and to accomplish your tasks.”
- Roger Berkowitz: Roger Berkowitz starts his day as a CEO by meditating for 20 minutes. He says the practice often helps him find the answers to questions in his life (both business and personal).
- Ramani Ayer: A veteran of meditative practice with more than 30 years under his belt, Hartford Financial Services CEO Ayer has been using meditation to reduce stress, improve his health, make clear decisions, and develop better business relationships for years.
- Steve Rubin: Former CEO of United Fuels Steve Rubin believes that meditation has given him a distinct competitive advantage in the business world. He has said, “”I have the mental clarity and alertness for both laser-like focus on the details as well as broad comprehension.”
- Rick Goings: Tupperware’s CEO Rick Goings takes a break from his executive duties every afternoon to do a bit of meditating. He believes that the practice helps him to burn off stress and to focus on what really matters in running the business.
While physical fitness is often key to winning, mental fitness doesn’t hurt either. Here are just a few athletes who’ve used meditation to help them take on the best competitors and win.
- Phil Jackson: Former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson used meditation techniques to help coach basketball greats like Michael Jordan to successive championships. Jackson believed the practice helped enhance player performance, and with those kinds of results, it’s hard to argue otherwise. After success with the Bulls, Jackson’s meditation coach (and Jackson himself) went on to provide meditation training for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000, where they also won several championships under his guidance.
- Vijender Singh: Indian boxer Vijender Singh has brought home Olympic bronze and he prepares for his bouts with mental training in the form of meditation. He says, “Mental conditioning is very important as it keeps you focused during the bout. When you have a large crowd watching you, the pressure starts building on you and it’s meditation that helps you at that time.”
- Arthur Ashe: Arthur Ashe was the first African American to win singles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open. To focus himself, Ashe used meditative practices like controlled breathing, the calming effects of which many believe helped him to win numerous tennis championships.
- Joe Namath: Famed football quarterback Joe Namath began meditating in the 1960s and 1970s when it was popularized in the West by gurus and groups like The Beatles.
- Damien Vaughn:Former NFL player Damien Vaughn, the first Brazilian to take on the American version of football, was a dedicated proponent of meditation. In 2009, Vaughn opened the Vaughn Center, a facility that helps athletes learn to meditate and to eliminate negative or distracting thoughts so they can play at the highest possible level.
Politics can be a high-stress field, but many use meditation as a tool to help them unwind and get ahead.
- Al Gore: Former vice president and climate change activist Al Gore has recently taken up regular mediation as a way to reduce stress and focus his thoughts.
- Bill Clinton: Bill Clinton learned the art of meditation with the help of a Buddhist monk, a practice he decided to embrace after a heart attack scare. Meditation is a way for the former president (and his high-powered political wife) to relax, stay sane, and get a boost of positive energy.
- Tim Ryan: Ohio representative Tim Ryan doesn’t just practice meditation, he actually wrote a book on it. He says that meditation can improve all aspects of health and well-being.
- Nick Clegg: Nick Clegg may not be a familiar name to those in the U.S., but across the pond he’s a well known Liberal Democratic leader. Clegg has said that meditation helped him to cope with many stressful parts of his life, from his years at Cambridge to starting his early political career.
- William Hague:Another British politician, William Hague has spoken out in recent years about the benefits of meditation. Hague learned to meditate as a student at Oxford and says that it helps him to be calmer, get fewer headaches and sleep better, all of which help him cope with his 15-hour days as Foreign Secretary.