Transcendental Meditation 2x a day for 20 minutes for this busy CEO

Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Assume that you’re the head of a major international airline, and every day, you have to deal with different major decisions in your line of business. With that comes the challenges as well emanating from your operations that span across the globe.

Sure, you have different department heads to handle everything that comes within their responsibilities. But ultimately, they will depend on your sound judgment and business acumen to deal with all situations. And that requires a lot for your mental health.

So, how do you take care of your brain to keep it sane and healthy in the midst of difficult decisions to make, mundane daily challenges and a future to build for the business? You meditate.

That’s exactly what Ben Minicucci, the Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. The two airlines carry approximately more than 45 million passengers a year on 1,300 daily flights to 115 destinations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Under Ben’s leadership, Alaska Air Group has maintained growth despite the difficult times and had created an airline that people love. And to Ben, doing transcendental meditation twice a day for 20 minutes gives him clarity of thoughts, balance and calm.

In a blog posted on Alaska Air, Ben was asked, “Rumor has it, you’re trained in mindfulness or practice meditation. How does that play a role in your life and as a leader?

To which he replied, “I’ve been really diligent about it, especially in the last six months. I actually took a course in transcendental meditation, which is an easy type of meditation. And I do it twice a day for 20 minutes. What I love about it is it calms me down.

“These jobs can get really stressful, and it helps me find balance. The second thing that I love is it gives me clarity of thought. So, as you’re bouncing from one topic to another, one meeting to another, it helps give me clarity so I can be the best for those I work with and focus on what’s important. I am actually addicted to it now. When I don’t do it, I find that maybe I’m not at my best. So, it’s really helped me.”

And he could have found the perfect relief for a tough job like his. The brain is a complex organ that controls our thoughts, memories, emotions, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger and every process that regulates our body, need some “me” time, various studies have shown.

A UCLA study showed long-term meditators had better-preserved brains as they age as opposed to those who don’t. Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” And John Hopkins says mindfulness meditation has the ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain.

Ben joined Alaska in 2004 as staff vice president of maintenance. Before joining Alaska, he spent seven years serving in a variety of roles at Air Canada’s technical operations and, ultimately, vice president of heavy maintenance. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 14 years prior to joining the private aviation sector.

Ben holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada. He’s currently on the board of directors for Alaska Air Group, Washington Roundtable, and the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking.

Ben’s Firsts & Favorites:

First job in aviation: The Canadian Armed Forces.
First time on an airplane: “I was about 10 when I visited my grandparents in Italy. I can’t remember what type of aircraft or airline but remember sitting by the L1 door and it was very noisy.”
Favorite travel destination: Hawaii.
Must-pack item for any flight: Workout clothes.
Favorite sport: Cycling trips with friends. “We’ve been to Corsica, we’ve been to Italy, France, Spain – I just love doing big weeklong bike trips around the world.”
One thing people are surprised to learn about you: “My taste in movies. I love to laugh, and I love movies that are silly – like Will Ferrell movies. Everything from ‘Talladega Nights’ to ‘Wedding Crashers’ to ‘We’re the Millers.’ A lot of people think I’m into sophisticated stuff, but I just want to watch movies that make me laugh.” Source: