Connecting the Dots, and Meditation

Steve Jobs, in his inspirational graduation speech at Stanford, stated,

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

I had such an experience this past week in my Cost Accounting class (please don’t fall asleep yet, I promise this post is not about Cost Accounting). My two sections are virtually all graduating seniors, and I think most, if not all, of them have jobs lined up for when they graduate (in other words, their level of motivation at this time of year is pretty low… OK, nonexistent).

So it’s a perfect time of year for a guest speakers, preferably former students, to visit my classes and offer their perspective on what the business world is like. Last year I had a former student visit and talk about the use of the Gallup Strengths Finder tool at Johnson & Johnson and another former student speak about how performance evaluation is done at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and the importance of taking control of your career. I previously wrote about how successful those visits were, and so I wanted to maintain that same level of quality, but try something a little different.

As luck would have it, a former MBA student of mine, from about 1988, had contacted me a few months ago, letting me know that he had written a book on meditation, and thought I would be interested in reading it. I ordered a copy, read it (highly recommend), and then we began exchanging a few emails.

At one point Chase, the former student, said that while he lives in Atlanta, he still has a brother in the area, and that he occasionally comes up for a visit. We made some vague plans to connect, but then somehow the idea came up that he would be willing to come in and teach my classes how to meditate.

I had to give it a little thought, because admittedly, that is a different kind of class from Cost Accounting and I wondered how the students would react. That thinking process lasted all of two minutes, and I agreed that such a class could be very beneficial to my students.

So we made plans for his visit, and Chase kindly shared one of the chapters from his book for my students to read in advance. While this was all in process, a story happened to appear in the Wall Street Journal that talked about Deepak Chopra visiting an MBA class at Columbia Business School where he taught the students the basics of meditation. When I saw that article, all doubts were removed from my mind about the appropriateness of having someone teach my students about meditation.

Well this past Wednesday was the big day, and it could not have worked out better.

Chase first offered some background on the benefits of meditation, and then led the two classes through a basic and then a more advanced meditation. Since I sat through both classes, it gave me a chance to do quite a bit of meditating, which was quite relaxing.

We went out for dinner afterwards, and did our best to catch up on the past 28 years since we had last seen each other. When I got home later, I realized how fate had brought us together.

Who would have imagined that a student I taught almost 30 years ago, who then went on to have a successful career in the insurance industry, would one day be visiting my class to lead a seminar on meditation?

Yes, we had formed a good relationship while he was a student (there’s only a year difference between us), but once he graduated we did not stay in touch. But like many connections I make these days, LinkedIn brought us together, and it culminated in the wonderful experience my students had the other day.

And if you are wondering what the students thought about the class, well here is their unedited feedback. It won’t take too much reading to realize that Chase hit it out of the park, or perhaps a more appropriate analogy for Villanova, it was a slam dunk.

I liked the energy that Chase brought to the room. He knew he had the goal of trying to engage us and I think that he made the best of the situation. I also liked how he showed us the benefits of meditation in life. I do believe that with persistent focus on meditation, it can definitely help focus and lead to life benefits. However, for me, I’m not sure I got what I should have out of the presentation. Some of the jokes were a bit forced, which didn’t really help lighten the mood. Also, I’m not sure if I actually achieved a meditative state. Part of that might have been because I was tired coming in and part of that was that I might have not fully understood exactly what I was trying to achieve. It was definitely a good experience, but maybe what I needed was something else. I do like the idea of having a guest speaker like this come into our class during the semester. I think there are large benefits to exploring different options when it comes to mental and physical fitness. I really appreciate everything that I learned from Chase. Next semester, I would definitely try to keep the same sort of lesson in the syllabus, whether it is yoga, zumba, meditation, or something alike. Again, I think this is an important aspect of life, but that each person has their own preferences on what works for them. I hope this helps. Thanks so much for getting Chase to come into our class. Definitely a lot to learn from this type of experience.

I found the presentation to be interesting, beneficial, and quirky. I found his quirky humor to be a tad awkward but beneficial in breaking the ice in the room because he was confident with himself. His PowerPoint on meditation was informative and interesting but I found myself trying to take too much information at once while
thinking about the meditation that would soon come. The meditation itself was well lead by him and I was able to relax by attempting to follow his instructions. I found myself calm and composed after the first round of meditation and truly enjoyed the experience. I had trouble with the second round but found it enlightening. Overall, he is great and confident presenter. I would recommend you keep this meditation day for future semesters.

Just some quick feedback about yesterday’s presentation. He was very enthusiastic and engaging which was good to keep everyone’s attention. I liked the topic and presentation because it was different and it helped me relaxed especially coming towards the final weeks of school. This may not be for everyone but if you are able to concentrate and stay focused it was a good break from the busy world around us. 

I liked the presentation! I thought Chase was a colorful and fun person to be guiding the meditation. I found it very relaxing.

 I enjoyed yesterday’s presentation, it was very different than what I would have expected. While I don’t think I did very well meditating, I still enjoyed the speaker.

I really enjoyed Chase’s presentation yesterday! He was definitely not the conventional guest speaker that usually comes to VSB classes, which made it that much more enjoyable for me.He also was very personable, which made it more interesting and engaging. I have been extremely stressed lately, so having the opportunity to meditate during class from a professional and to hear the benefits of meditation was helpful for me! 

I enjoyed the presentation yesterday and think it would be worth doing again. I thought that it was slightly long winded and found myself zoning out at points. A shorter presentation might have been more captivating. Also Chase said you can’t meditate wrong, but I think I’m an exception to that rule! I could not find my subconscious anywhere in the house at the end of that path. 

I thought the guest speaker was definitely interesting to learn from and was a good use of class time. I did think he could have gone more into how meditation can help when entering the workforce, specifically.

I enjoyed the fact that yesterday’s presentation was not related to accounting. I think it is easy to get tunnel vision while in college and prioritize your major course more than others, so it was refreshing to learn a little bit about something that is not directly related to the business world but could still be beneficial. I thought the presenter himself was very friendly and pleasant. I think I would need a lot more practice to break through my mind and be able to successfully meditate but it was fun to learn the basics! In general, I always appreciate having a guest speaker. Thank you for bringing him in to speak with us! 

This guest speaker was certainly different compared to almost all of the guest speakers I’ve had throughout my Villanova career, but I found what he was talking about very helpful for me in the long-run when it comes to stress management and improving one’s mental health. I truly got a lot out of class yesterday and he definitely convinced me to at least try meditation in the future.

I really enjoyed yesterday’s presentation. I’ve been quite interested in meditation, and have begun practicing it and using it regularly over the past year. I thought the speaker was really knowledgable and engaging which is definitely necessary when teaching a topic many are skeptical about. I really have no negative comments I could make on it at all, and I believe that it is definitely worth continuing to do this in future semesters.

I really enjoyed today’s presentation on meditation. The presenter was very engaging and entertaining. I honestly needed this class at this point in the time of the semester with graduation looming and seemingly all work due for my classes. It was refreshing and relaxing to be able to sit and meditate for an extended period of time, and alleviated my stress levels. I think either meditation or a yoga class should be used for future students.

I thought at first it was going to be super weird, and it was a little weird, but I enjoyed it. I think it is good to learn to relax and destress, especially for college students about to enter the working world. He was also a good presenter so it was fun to listen to.

I thought the presentation yesterday was very interesting. The guest speaker did a great job keeping us engaged and explaining how meditation can reduce stress and build emotional intelligence. It is definitely a practice that I will utilize going forward. 

I thought today’s guest speaker was great.  I have a lot of work this week, as I’m sure most students do, so this was a nice break to completely put that stress out of my mind and focus inward.  I enjoyed it as I have never really tried anything like that before.  Also, I think the tactics he taught will be useful as I have had some trouble sleeping recently which I’m sure is due to worries about graduating soon.  I’m glad I got to practice with a professional so I have some experience in quieting my mind to help me sleep.  Overall I enjoyed the experience and would recommend you use it next year as well.

I enjoyed the speaker today. He was engaging and enjoyable. As for the meditation, I felt relaxed and calm, but I’m not sure I really “experienced” anything, especially during the more advanced meditation. Even though I didn’t experience anything, I still think meditation is an interesting concept and that it can have positive effects. Thank you for planning this!

Have to admit that I was skeptical of this at first but I really had a great time today. I’ve meditated in classes before but never had a great guided experience like that before. Really opened my eyes to how beneficial meditation really can be. Thanks for a great day!

I really enjoyed today’s presentation! It was a very unique experience. I had never done a legitimate meditation before so that was a great introduction that made me want to explore it more. I didn’t realize that there were so many types of techniques and I was very impressed with Chase’s passion and knowledge for meditation. Thanks for inviting him to our class! It was a great way to end the semester.

I thoroughly enjoyed today’s meditation session. After experiencing it I truly realize how anxious and stressed I get over small everyday things. When reading one of the articles on google prior to the meditation I read that the normal person experiences a “fight or flight” response 11 times per day. I definitely see this in my everyday life and absolutely want to look more into meditation to try and help it. Thank you again for giving me this experience.

The presentation today was interesting. Definitely out of the norm. I’m not sure if I really got that much out of it and I’m not planning on taking up meditation, but I have had a stressful week and it definitely calmed me down and I felt much better leaving class than I did when I entered. So maybe I should take up meditation?? But overall I’d say I liked it, even if parts of it did feel a little hokey. I do appreciate you trying to get new and diverse speakers each year.

Still here? Well if so, thanks for reading all those comments, and a big thank you to Chase for teaching me and my students a valuable life skill.

And who knows, perhaps 28 years from now, I’ll reconnect with one of the graduates of the class of 2016.

If you’d like to learn more about Chase and how he might help you with meditation, here is a link to his web site.

*Photo of Chase helping two students with the meditative process.