Mindfulness and the Entrepreneur

The Mindful Entrepreneur
The Mindful Entrepreneur

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.

 

What is Meditation?

A Meditation Mandala
A Meditation Mandala

In most systems around the world, meditation is the preparation of the ground for transpersonal, intuitive, creative, transcendental, healing states, perceptions, experiences and vision.

When science looked at it they found that while in normal activity the human brain functions at a beta wave level (electrical activity of thalamic pacemaker cells in our brains at between 12 and 30 Hz) and then in deep sleep or meditative states the brain functions first at an Alpha or relaxed state (8 – 12 Hz slowed down) and then n even deeper REM sleep and other states of altered consciousness at around 6 – 10 Hz.

In ancient cultures Alpha and Theta waves could be achieved through chanting, fasting, breath control, single pointed focus, darkness in caves, dancing, repetition of words, rhythmic activity like sports, contemplation, spending days in total darkness (caves), listening to sounds, etc. These all went towards the formation of various schools of “meditation” to develop Alpha states and then even more advance Theta states while awake.

It was discovered also by these traditions that once one entered that state of Alpha waves or Theta waves, the mind would become still and with a slight blurring of focus once could begin to intuit, see visions, channel develop psi skills, astral travel, and more. One could also travel to dimensions and visions of light, NDE type experiences and meet Angels or other intelligences.

They also found that many of these states could be induced through halucinogenic plants like psilocybin, ayajuasca, marijuana, syrian rye and then of course pure forms of DMT and LSD. Most shamans used these techniques but many schools developed non-halucinogenic techniques like breath and focus as in Yoga and prayer.

Later it was also explained that the Pineal Gland was the center of this transformative activity as in these states it released DMT (DiMethyl Triptamine) that would generate the samadhi or light experiences many had seen. The experience of DMT release is very similar to the Near Death Experiences.

They also discovered that long acts of meditation would act on the endocrine and hormonal system of the body leading to vitality, good health and balance.

So what is meditation – using any technique you are attracted to in order to enter into Alpha and Theta states of stillness or relaxation and then applying intention to achieve your own personal spiritual evolution – or just enjoying the benefits of good health and mental balance.

The First Mystics: the Eleusian Mysteries

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The Eleusian Mysteries

The title “Mystic” was the name given to ordinary citizens of Athens who made an annual pilgrimage to a set of mysterious caves at Eleusis, 30 miles from the center of modern Athens on the Adriatic coast. Every September, for an entire week before the autumn equinox, Eleusis played host to the most significant annual religious festival in ancient Greece. From at least 500 BC (for over 700 years), thousands of pilgrims would flock every year from all over the known world to this sleepy agricultural city, 15 miles from Athens, to take part in one of the great secrets of the ancient world, initiation into the Eleusian Mysteries and into the “Nature Mysteries” of Demeter.

The only requirements to become an initiate and participate in the mysteries at Eleusis were that the “Mystic” had to speak Greek and have no blood on their hands – of course there was a quick fix available to purify yourself in case the opposite was true. Each new initiate, known as a “mystes” – from which the word mystic originates – would receive preliminary instructions from an experienced guide called a “mystagogos” and would then go through a series of initiation rites that would transform their personalities forever.

“I fasted; I drank the kykeon; I took from the kiste, having done my task, I placed in the basket, and from the basket into the kiste” (Clement of Alexandria -Protrept, II, 18)

After 5 days of preparation and rituals, and fasting for one full day, the new Myste was welcomed in to the mysteries of Demeter by participating in a ritual that involved taking a drink made of barley called Kykeon –a drink many believe that had a hallucinogenic property similar to LSD – and then were exposed to the most amazing and mind-expanding rituals and displays of visions and drama within the inner sanctum. This ritual was of such visionary significances to the mystes that no one in the 800 year history of this ritual ever spoke about the actual ritual in any detail.

It not only kept Greek society bound together spiritually but also deeply connected them to Gaia, the Earth and also made them realize that they were part of an incredible cosmic mystery.What was the mystery that the mystes were being initiated into and why did it sustain such secrecy and devotion for over a full millennium? We can only speculate.

According to notes by Aristotle and Clement of Alexandria, In Eleusis the Mystics were initiated into an age old mystery about the rebirth of nature from the underworld through the idea of the earth as mother and through this experience which entailed a dramatic hallucinogenic experience and a vision that must have been quite life altering, were left with a life long understanding that they belonged to a mystery much greater than themselves. They realized that they were part of the wonderful cycles of nature.

Today we have so few similar rituals – apart from Ayajuasqueros or Evangelical Holy Spirit Churches or Group hugs from Mata Amrita or perhaps even Burning Man. We seem so disconnected from our mystical selves and from the earth and the cosmos as whole. Time to heal and reconnect with our elemental true selves.

The Potential of Human Consciousness

 

hyperconnectedThe human mind is capable of immense expansion of consciousness from the micro to the macro. We can meditate upon a DNA helix (and see serpents intertwined) and even go down to the level of the photon and see all beings as light. We can expand outwards to the universal and simultaneously be in many place at the same time. We can sense the future and guide our journey to the most incredible dimensions of sense, light, taste, sights and sounds. Our heart can feel every feeling in the cosmos. Our energy can heal and destroy if cultivated. We can connect with the source too after much work and much good fortune. But this path to expansion must be taken alone. However, along the way, as our consciousness rises through the seven spheres or levels, we naturally become more compassionate and see everyone as ourselves. How can we not be better for our fellow humans and for the world as a result. The great teacher or healer or guru is a by product of the journey taken by an enlightened soul – or rather one in the process of becoming enlightened.

Resonating with Nature

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The Earth as Mother of all life

We sometimes forget we are an integral part of the biosphere and share a common molecule of DNA with all life on this planet. We have more in common at our deepest genetic level with a leaf than we do with any iPad we can ever own or create. If we learn to resonate at the different frequencies all life communicate at – from photons to the biosphere as a whole wrapped around the mother Gaia, then perhaps we may find our way back to harmony and peace away from this feeling of being alone and meaningless all the time. We need to return to the mother in our understanding and our intuition.

The Eighth Gate: Parting the Veil

Mankind has always been fascinated by 7, 8 and 9. Possibly due to the 7 visible figures moving across the sky in front of the apparently permanently stationed Stars. Man has projected this number on to most numbers at the human level – think 7 days of the week, 28 day lunar cycles etc. The number 9 has always symbolized the sacred mother, or the womb on enters after one passes through the 8th gate. 8 was always a number of Judgment, the end of human consciousness and the beginning of divine consciousness.

In Buddhism, there are eight consciousnesses. Five of the senses, three of mind. The sixth perception. The seventh is judgment. The eighth is the storehouse of thoughts. In normal life the action between the 6th 7th and 8th happen very quickly.

In Platonic cosmology the Seven Spheres were the motions of the 7 visible planets against the backdrop of the permanent stars or ancient Gods. These 7 spheres were the abodes of different gods and corresponded with the microcosm inside man’s anatomy as well. Beyond the Seven spheres was the great gateway to the realm of the Gods.

In Judaism and Islam there are seven heavens (again tied to the seven visible moving planets) where not only the planets and the Moon and Sun live but Angels, souls of the Prophets, spiritual beings (the ELohim) and where both Paradise and Hell are as well. Beyond that is the Eighth gate of Judgement. Jupiter is considered the last planet and largest and is connected with Jehovah and then beyond that is the beatific vision for all space and time cease to exist and one stares in awe. Same in Islam.

In Christianity, Jesus makes Seven utterances on the Cross which correspond nicely to the journey through the Seven Spheres.

1. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
2. “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
3. “Woman, behold thy son! … Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26).
4. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
5. “I thirst” (John 19:28).
6. “It is finished” (John 19:30).
7. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (see on Luke 23:46).

The Book of Revelation makes references to seven angels, seven golden candlesticks, seven churches, seven stars, seven lamps, seven seals, seven thunders, seven last plagues, seven vials, seven mountains, seven kings, etc.

In Yoga, the ancient Indians tuned this inwards and defined seven planes of consciousness that one rises through the chakras along the spine. Kundalini, a coiled up energy remaining dormant in the base of the spine, rises through these seven spiritual centers before breaking through after the 7th in the 8th plane into the Tarija or Ananda or Bliss state. The 7th state is called Samadhi and then you rise through subtler levels.

The concept of the veil in the 8th level comes from Sri Aurobindo who said that the realm of the Super mind is divided away from the maximum state of human consciousness by a thin veil that once pierced sends the quester in to even more amazing realms. It is in this realm he said that the divine descends as Grace to lift the seeker up to the highest realms and also agrees to come down to the Earth plane through that traveller. Quite a quest.

 

Moses and Jesus were reformers just as Luther, Vivekananda and Nanak

I highly recommend everyone read ” A History of God” by Karen Armstrong (an ex-nun who became an authority on comparative religion) that looks at the evolution of the concept of the Judeo-Christian God from El who came to Abraham, to Yaweh who came to Moses in the I am that I am and through Jesus and his Father through Allah of ISlam and on to the modern ideas of God in the West. A good read. Both Moses and Jesus were radicals who completely transformed the religions that they came into – Moses into the the religions of Abraham, Egypt and Bal and gave the world Judaism and Jesus integrated the ideas of the Essenes, eastern ideas and other radical sects on a personal connection with God and gave us Christianity. Quite amazing men. As for Mary – Jesus was a throughly modern man and would today be considered a free-love hippy as he preached equal roles for men and women, the formation of communes and collectives, the practice of direct connection with God and the dissolution of traditional family structures to live amongst spiritual companions, friends and lovers. He was a comprehensively New Age Rabbii.

Why are Indian Swamis so good at business, politics and institution building?

In my 6 years of living back in India and meeting so many saints, gurus, swamis and  teachers, I am amazed at how much energy is devoted to business, building institutions, acquiring land and donations, influencing politicians and handling money. I always imagined that one could go to a teacher to find real knowledge about meditation, Yoga, vedanta, kriyas, mantra initiation and more but now I find that most swamis thread connection to their devotees is through their bank accounts. Guru culture is such big business India that on rough estimate I would imagine it is worth a few thousand crores each year. If they are run as such good business then perhaps the Government should tax them and also force them to decalre their incomes publicly like everyone else. Also we should have the right to issue RTI’s against them to see where donated monies are being spent. I am still searching for real teachers and once ina while I do meet one and then I feel comforted but the cult of swamis and gurus has really gone too far in our culture and it is time for us to wake up and question their integrity, positioning and role in society.

Reincarnation: 4 ways we return again and again

“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as an animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?”
― Rumi

In my analysis there are four ways we return again and again to this world.

First every boson, photon, quantum particle, atom, molecule or DNA strand in me was and is stardust and has been here since the beginning of time and have come together in so many wonderful ways. Subtle levels of quantum consciousness keep them moving through the universes and my body is just one stop along the way.

Then there is the human and other earthbound reincarnation where we continue to live through our DNA and reproduce ourselves leaving our memory of prior genetic existence in our genomes and codes. The so- called Junk DNA probably stores information about every form I have ever taken in this journey on earth.

Then the third is human consciousness or mind – are we all part of a collective consciousness or noosphere that somehow comes into a new born cilld on the 49th day of gestation and downloads information of previous consciousnesses in some way.

Finally the fourth and most difficult to fully fathom is the soul. Is there an immortal being of light that has also been here since creation began that co-exists in my body and is here for a purpose – to learn life after life and evolve towards a return to the source from which it came? If that is the case then there seems to be a gathering (the quickening) of many souls now on earth to witness something spectacular – either the death of a species by its own hand or a spectacular cosmic event or the awakening of a universal awareness that will allow us all to ascend and become spiritual beings that can travel the cosmos and then return to the source after great learning and adventure.

I can live with one or all four ways to reincarnate. When I know I am immortal how can I fear anything? So yes, reincarnation in one or all of these ways is a viable concept.

What I miss about New York City…..

Why I miss NYC….

The rude doorman who still expects a tip. The old lady with the attitude on the bus. The subway speaker voice only an alien can understand. The hyper fit women at the gym who look like they might just crush you and eat you for lunch. The diner breakfast served by my mexican fried Juan. The Bangladeshi cab driver who is perpetually tuned into his wireless Bengali network. The overweight and shorter than US average cop. The woman in Chinatown shouting “five dollah! five dollah!” The filth and dirt of the E Train. The truck towing away my rental. The Italian plumber who makes more than me and lives on the NJ shore. The Puerto Rican kids in the park that scare the hell out of me. The earnest organic farmers at Union Square. The Russian physios straight out of late night seedy TV. The Robin “what’s her name” show at midnight. Shawarmas in the Village. 5 hot models sharing a junior 2 in Soho. The cool kids in Dumbo seeking love and meaning in the age of 140 letter relationships. The fireman who is willing to die for you. What’s there not to love…..New York New York….

raja choudhury's reflections from the edge of creativity, consciousness and mysticism