Valerie Crawford parlayed a $500 investment into a million dollar company. Working up to 20 hours a day played a key part in her ability to succeed. Fifteen years ago, however, Crawford decided that being able to quiet her mind is also essential to her success.

Her approach to meditating incorporates prayer, an intention to do better each day and even makes use of an important business tool.

“I’m an entrepreneur so you know that we work crazy hours and a lot. What I’ve learned to do was to take a daily (profit and loss) and I use meditation to drive that,” she explained.

Before incorporating meditation into her life, Crawford said that her long work hours forced her to take a look at her lifestyle. “I was working and bragging about working 20 hours a day and it finally hit me that at some point I need to learn to quiet the mind.”

That led to a twice a day meditation practice that she does in the morning and again at night.

“I meditate in the morning for what my day is to be,” she said. “I meditate at night for what my day was.”

Prayer is also a part of her daily quiet time, she said, calling it the “ask” and meditation the “listen.” Business phrases are interwoven into her meditation vernacular.

“My night meditation consists of meditation and what I call personal inventory. Was my day in the red or was my day in the black? And then I meditate on the things in the red so that I can have a better tomorrow.”

Research supports Crawford’s claim that meditation helps to lower anxiety associated with daily stressors that most people face.

“If I’m in traffic, and somebody cuts me off, instead of cursing at them, I say “have a blessed day,” repeatedly until that moment of anxiety and wanting to react passes.”

For most people, the idea of meditation only conjures up an image of a person sitting cross legged, eyes closed and fingers touching, however, Crawford said that it’s actually much simpler.

“It’s a single moment in time where you become centered and balanced and it’s not something where you have to clear the mind or do something magical or mystical. It just keeps you in the moment,” she explained.

Studies have shown that meditation may also slow the aging process. According to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, new lines of research show that “meditation may lead to biological changes that decrease the inflammation response of the immune system on a cellular level and can contribute to looking and feeling younger.”

Rainbow T. Ho, director of the Centre on Behavioral Health at the University of Hong Kong authored a study on the subject. Two separate studies of meditation, one involving the practice of a Kirtan Kriya meditation from kundalini yoga and the other involving qigong practice, a moving meditation, both identified improved telomerase activity, which is linked to cellular health.

According to Ho, “Telomerase is an important enzyme that protects us from aging by guarding the shortening of telomeres during cell division.” This reduction in inflammation may be related to optimizing health and slowing damage from the aging process.

Whether it is used to soften the effects of aging or to help people to live a calmer life, Crawford said that meditation is more important than ever.

“Meditation has become something that is difficult and unattainable for people, particularly in the world in which we live that has become so fast paced,” she shared.

She said the benefits of meditation are significant and affect all aspects of her life.

“It’s allowed me to be a lot more intuitive, a lot more grounded and centered, and in all decisions that I make, personal and business. I’m less reactionary, I’m always intentional and so meditation has allowed me to stay in the moment with everything that I do.”

For someone considering giving meditation a try, Crawford said to simply “Sit and think about a single thought.” And when it seems that a thousand of them begin to pass through the mind, she suggests letting them flow. “Don’t try to block the thought, whatever thought comes through. If you have to cook dinner, if you have to pick up the children, let all of that go through,” she explained.

“But if you’re thinking about peace, or you’re thinking about a positive appointment, think ‘this appointment is going to yield whatever results you want,’ and keep repeating that,” she added.