Good news: you can massively improve emotional intelligence (EQ) by meditating.
All it takes is 20 minutes. And there are major benefits.
High emotional intelligence will improve your career, make your relationships more successful, and even make you a hit at your next party.
But let’s cut to the chase: just what is emotional intelligence?
What Is Emotional Intelligence? Basically People Skills
Accepting of criticism, not budging to social pressure, not letting cross words get to them.
What both these people have in common is a high degree of emotional intelligence.
They understand themselves and their own emotions as well as the emotions, thoughts, behaviours and needs of others.
Emotional intelligence (or Emotional Quotient) is our ability to recognise and understand both our own emotions and the emotions of others.
You can probably immediately think of someone with low emotional intelligence. They’re the people who are impossible to get along with because they just don’t seem to understand the way you’re feeling.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman  defines emotional intelligence as the ability to:
- Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions
- Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others
Goleman tells us that EI is massively important in leadership skills and management, because unless we understand the people we are working with there is no way we will work effectively with them.
And emotional intelligence is hugely important in social and romantic roles too.
But emotional intelligence goes way beyond simply being a people person.
There are major benefits of emotional intelligence.
Let’s take a look.The heart that gives, gathers--Tao Te Ching Click To Tweet
High emotional intelligence benefits
There are some seriously impressive benefits of high emotional intelligence. Not only does high EQ help us in relationships, it even improves our health.
The top benefits of high emotional intelligence are:
People with high levels of emotional intelligence are more able to identify when their stress is doing the thinking for them. Stress makes us think negatively, and this can lead to a bleak view. Emotional intelligence helps us step back and say, “This is my stress speaking”. That way, we can cut-off our stress at its source, before it alters our perspective.
Self awareness is our ability to recognise and understand our own emotions. To do this we need to be mindful of our emotions (both positive and negative). This mindfulness gives us more emotional control because we are aware of the fact that our emotions are influencing us.
The number one cause of arguments in relationships is misunderstanding, and the number one cause of misunderstanding is lack of emotional awareness. When we are unaware of either our own emotions or the other persons, we are likely to respond to a situation in an unhelpful way. High EQ increases our emotional awareness so that we can react to situations in helpful ways.
Scientific research by UCLA has proven that when we are able to label our emotions we increase our control over them . This ability to label emotions is essentially EQ.
High EQ enables us to recognise our emotions and the effect those emotions are having on us, handing us back control.
Empathy is the ability to feel what other people are feeling. High levels of empathy enable us to anticipate the actions and behaviours of others, and this can help in everything from negotiating to conflict resolution.
But bear in mind: it’s not always easy being a highly empathetic person.
Good social skills are 85% about our ability to understand the emotions of other people. In other words: EQ. High levels of emotional intelligence enable us to understand and to interact with people more effectively. And that’s relevant in everything from business to dating.
Scientific research has pinpointed emotional intelligence as the key to performance.
90% of top performance have high levels of emotional intelligence. And only 20% of bottom performance have high EQ.
Travis Bradberry, the coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 [AMAZON], tells us:
You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim. Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence.
If you want to make more money, train your emotional intelligence.
On average, people with high EQ levels make $1,000 more per annual salary.
Whether you’re a divorce lawyer, mental health specialist,real estate agent meeting prospective buyers, a member of the police force (who of course must be excellent at conflict resolution), or a telephone salesman trying to make a trade, the better you are at handling other people, the further you will go in your career. That’s one reason why so many people are starting to meditate at work, because meditation improves emotional intelligence (see below).
How Meditation Improves Emotional IntelligenceAfflictive emotions--jealousy, anger, hatred--can be put to an end. They are only temporary, like clouds in the sky. Click To Tweet
Scientific research has proven that meditation boosts intelligence 6 ways and has numerous positive effects on the brain.
Our research has found many ways meditation improves emotional intelligence.
First of all, the practice of mindfulness increases emotional awareness.
In the 2015 research paper Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditaiton On Emotional Intelligence, General Self-Efficacy, and Perceived Stress Peerayuth Charoensukmongkol (2015) wrote that mindfulness meditation improves emotional intelligence in these ways:
- Improves recognition and awareness of our own emotions
- Helps us recognise other people’s emotions
- Strengthens our ability to control our emotions
Mindfulness, said Charoensukmongkol, heightens our ability to determine which emotions are helpful for different situations, such that we can access appropriate emotions at the right time.
For instance, if we are at work and feeling casual and overly relaxed (emotions more suitable for home) we can be aware of these emotions and take the necessary steps to change the.
Vipassana meditation is also beneficial. This is a Buddhist meditation in which we label our emotions. Studies show that regular practice of Vipassana train the mind to recognise emotions and to titrate our emotions such that, for instance, if we are feeling excited when we should be feeling productive, we can make the necessary adjustment.
Body scan meditation, meanwhile, heightens our awareness of physical sensations in the body. One of the first places we notice emotions is in phyical sensations such as a tight chest or clenched teeth. By being mindful of these sensations we increase emotional awareness.
To be more aware of other people’s emotions, try focused-attention meditations such as samatha. These train the mind to focus on an external object instead of being lost in thoughts. This enables us to see how someone else is actually feeling rather than getting lose in our own ideas of what is happening.
The following meditation combines these techniques into one single method. This is a powerful meditation for emotional intelligence.
Meditation For Emotional Intelligence
- Sit comfortably with good posture
- Take 5 deep breaths to relax
- Focus on your breathing. Let thoughts come and go while you rest your mind on the breath
- Continue to meditate on your breath for 25 breaths. This will take you to breath number 30. By this time you will be feeling relaxed and focused.
- Continuing to focus on your breath, start to label any emotions you feel. Say to yourself, “This is happiness”, “This is stress” and so on. This increases emotional awareness.
- Should strong emotions arise, return your focus to your breath and continue meditating in a relaxed way. Notice how you are able to control your focus even despite the strong feelings. This will increase emotional regulation. Continue up to breath 60.
- Begin to focus on physical sensations. Focus on the crown of your head and notice the sensations there. Then slowly move your focus down your body, noticing any tension as you go. This heightens emotional awareness even further. This stage should take 40 breaths.
- Take 8 final breaths to relax.
- Express gratitude for this meditation.
This technique combines body scan with vipassana with anapanasati for a powerful meditation. Emotional intelligence increases with continual practice of this technique.
Dalai Lama’s Emotional Intelligence Website
The Dalai Lama [one off our top spiritual gurus] has created a new website that he thinks will help us all understand our emotions better. It’s completely free, and you can try it today.
The Atlus Of Emotions describes and defines different emotions and sub-states of emotions, action that those emotions lead to, the triggers of the emotions, and the moods that they create.
The website shows five primary emotions, which are: Anger, Enjoyment, Disgust, Sadness, and Fear (you might notice that only one of these emotions is positive).