EP22: Emotional Intelligence – Let Meditation Enhance and Expand this Valuable Asset

Episode #22


In today's episode, I am going to shed a little light on emotional intelligence.  You might think you don't need to listen to this episode because you know all about it, you might have even read Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence.  Hold tight! I am here to talk about how meditation can improve your emotional intelligence, why we should always enhance emotional intelligence, and how it can make you a better person and a better leader. Increasing your emotional intelligence is just one more magical gift that meditation can offer. 


Hey there, Alexa Z here!  Before we jump into the topic of mindfulness, meditation, and emotional intelligence, I would like you to take a moment and check-in with yourself.  Ask yourself, what are my emotions and feelings right now.  When I work with children, I ask, "What's the weather today?" For example, sometimes, I feel stormy and sunny at the same time, as though my weather is a bit oxymoronic.  Hold on to your thoughts on what your emotions are right now, and I will talk about them again a little bit later.  If you have read Daniel Goleman's book on emotional intelligence, you may have some knowledge about this topic. 

I personally like to keep it simple.  There are excellent reasons why we need emotional intelligence.  Usually, you hear about emotional intelligence with leadership.  Everyone should be a good leader, whether you are a leader in a company or your family, or merely making your way through life.  Imagine if you could not perceive that an employee or a family member, or your friend, is frustrated or upset.  Imagine if you could not tune in to what others are feeling, and you are unable to connect with them.  Research calls tuning in to another's emotions as emotional intelligence.  Research also indicates that emotional intelligence is what differentiates great leaders from average leaders. 

In Daniel Goleman's book, he includes a study that involved approximately 200 executives.  The study found that their emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or emotional quotient, was twice as relevant to performance compared to their IQ. and their technical abilities. 

Approximately 70% of the time, people with high emotional intelligence can outperform and attain superior leadership positions at a faster pace than those who have a high IQ and technical abilities. 

I have always been fascinated by emotional intelligence.  I am relatively smart, but I do not have a stellar IQ.  There are some aspects I can't change about myself. But, I can improve my emotional intelligence.  Not only can I develop my emotional intelligence, but I must continuously work on it.  Your IQ stays the same, the way you learned in the past is the same way you learn today; it does not change.  Your personality doesn't really change.  I always say that I am an introvert hiding in an extroverts body. That won't change.

Emotional intelligence continually comes up when I teach meditation.  One of the first things I ask is, what are your desires to meditate, and what was one thing that brought you here to learn how to meditate?  Very often, the response I hear is to stop being so emotional and to stop being reactive.  I also understand their to desire to balance their emotions, logic, and reasoning. 

At the beginning of this episode, I asked how you were feeling.  You likely had to pause for a minute and think about it.  It's not easy to tune into your own emotions.  Those who can tune in to their feelings are excellent leaders because they also can easily tune into the feelings of those around them.  For example, if I am in tune with my emotions and feelings, I can easily tune in to the emotions and feelings of perhaps an employee I am meeting.  I can use what I have learned about my employee's feelings and emotions to determine my actions; I want my actions to have the most significant outcome and success for myself and my employees.  The act of properly using your emotional brain isn't only applicable to your employees; it applies to your family, your friends, and everyone you come in contact with.  Tuning in to your feelings and those around isn't as easy as it sounds.  Our emotions are coming at us so fast that it seems that they do not travel through our brain in a logical order. We can fix this!

What are emotions? Emotions are a neurological response to very strong stimuli. Your rational brain needs to catch up to your feelings.  As your emotions are coming through your brainstem and entering your brain, we need to differentiate and discriminate amongst those feelings before they get to our executive prefrontal cortex, before we react. 

In meditation, we are helping our brain to become more aware of our feelings and emotions; and also our bodies.  The more we meditate, the better we are at discriminating and tuning in to our own and others' emotions resulting in more rational thinking and decision making.  There will be fewer days where you say to yourself, "I wish I didn't make that decision based on my crappy mood."  You will have more control over your reactions when your employee or your spouse is upset.  You will be able to identify that your emotions are high because their emotions are high, which will lead to better decisions and successful outcomes.

Years ago, I was teaching a woman who had a 5-year-old child.  This woman just wanted to be able to deal with her 5-year-old.  In her words, her child was cute, adorable, but crazy.  She likely would have preferred for me to teach meditation to her child instead, but I believe mom must learn how to meditate first.  I taught her about body scanning, and how our bodies are brilliantly intuned with our emotions.  If we are in tune with our bodies, we will be in tune with our feelings.  The woman began to notice, in real-time, that when she was feeling wound up, her child would also become wound up.  The calmer she grew, her child began to respond and become calm.  Simple but profound.

When you are meditating, you are training yourself to be more aware of sensations.  Noticing when things change, noticing what our triggers are.  Emotional intelligence requires clear communication between the rational part of your brain and the emotional center. 

Think of a seesaw.  You have a brain on one side and a heart on the other.  You might know someone so smart, but you want to smack them because everything they say comes from a high intellectual level but is missing any trace of emotion.  Often, they make decisions based on their highly logical brain but fail because no emotions were considered.  

Logic, reason, and emotion, how do we get all these parts of the brain working together? 

Meditation helps you become in touch with your self-awareness in real-time.  Self-awareness in real-time and emotional awareness helps your brain get one more second to catch up.  In that one second, magic can happen.  Your anterior cingulate, the part that helps balance your brain; it lights up when you are meditating.  The practice and training are helping balance your brain. 

In 2017, Daniel Goleman wrote a subsequent book called Altered Traits - Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. Worth reading!

While you are meditating, I would like you to notice sensations.  I always say, "get out of the thinking mind and enter the feeling mind" and "be a human being and not a human doing."  Start your meditation with a body scan, and think to yourself, "How am I feeling right now?", "What am I feeling?" and "Where am I feeling it?" You might start to think about how long have you felt this way; you might even want to name that emotion.  Then think, how is this emotion affecting me right now in my performance in my life, home or work. Devote your meditation to getting in touch with the feeling part of you.  Sometimes, suddenly that action of I know what to do comes up.  In that action, there is action, not reaction. 

To summarize; you can change your emotional intelligence, and you can be as great as you want to be.  I know you want to be great because I know you want to be in a world where you can perceive your emotions and those around you.  You don't live under a rock, we have people around us all the time, and I know that you are a caring and compassionate person.  If you only take one thing away from this episode it is that meditation does a lot of great stuff, including helping your emotional intelligence. 

Try some of this stuff in your meditation.  See how it feels.  Shoot me a text, DM, email, or a smoke signal, tell me how it's going. 

That's it for today, Tators!  

Alexa Z Meditates Website