You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour ~ Old Zen Koan
Running a business is not easy. Everyone assumes that entrepreneurs are made of firmer stuff than the rest of us – fearless, courageous, risk taking, willing to work 16 hours a day to build their dreams, managing life and work demands like a professional juggler and even being super human at times. But the reality is much more complex. According to a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Survey, entrepreneurs are 4 percent more likely to be worried than other workers and 3 percent more likely to be stressed. Add all the dilemmas of being a good boss, a good citizen, a good vendor, managing a good product, being ethical and you have quite a burden for any shoulders. So, what can you as a stretched yet visionary entrepreneur do about this?
Mindfulness and short bursts of meditation are the answers. Becoming fully aware of your your body, your breath, your mind and this moment is critical to your well being. If you applied the same discipline you do to balance sheets, presentations and customers to your “self” a few minutes each day then the results may just amaze you. A recent study at the University of London showed that it takes at 66 days for a new synaptic pathway to form and become a permanent pattern in your life. Unlike prior wisdom that it took 3 weeks to form a new habit, we now know from the study of Neuroplasticity that doing something for 66 days actually does make the real difference. So for the next 2 months I want you to practice Mindfulness. Before you know it you will be meditating like a monk and wondering why you never did this before.
But what is mindfulness? Its origins lie in Buddhist Meditation and is a state of mind where you become fully aware and conscious of every moment, every thought, every breath and it helps you to practice being in the here and now. Totally present to everything.
Try these 5 steps and see what happens.
Step 1: Come to Your Senses – mindfulness of body is where to start. Before starting your day, or before any meeting, just sit in your chair and become aware of your body. Wiggle your toes, feel your calves and thighs, feel the weight of your body on the chair, climb up your spine, rub your fingers and hands together, feel the air tickle your cheeks, taste the tip of your tongue, listen to all sounds around you without trying to understand them, look at the colors and shapes in front of you. Come slowly to your senses.
Step 2: Breathe – This does sound clichéd, but sometimes just remember to breathe. Before taking a decision, replying to an email, firing someone, reacting to a threat, pulling the trigger or anything that may have consequences, just breathe. And not just any breathing, take a few minutes to watch your breath each day, more often if you can. Watch it go in. Watch it go out. Do it for 3 minutes. Slow it down. In Zen, this is believed to be the most important part of meditation.
Step 3: Just Stop – Take time out for breaks. Take short walks in nature, exercise, play a game, laugh fully, dance, see beauty, be present to other people, listen, watch people go by at the park. Just unplug yourself every day for a few minutes and let your body and breath synch up with everything around you. Move out of your head and into your body and your surroundings.
Step 4: Open your Heart and Surrender – Sometimes you just have to say I don’t know and leave it to the universe to show you the way forward. Surrender does not mean giving up. It means having intuitive faith that you are doing the right thing and the universe will conspire to make it all work out. The more you walk in others’ shoes, show empathy and compassion, listen and open yourself up, understand the community you serve and look at how your business contributes to society, then the more mindful you will become and everything will fall into place.
Step 5: Observe Your Self – the final step in your mindful quest is to be present in every moment you can be aware of and soon you will see yourself and all around as part of a larger web that though you may have no control over, you can certainly act in the best possible way to ensure an ideal outcome.
The more we breathe, the more we become aware and the more we become mindful, the more we can see things as they really are and not how we imagine or fear them to be. Then we can truly act in the world.