For some years now, I’ve been practicing meditation. It has helped me during the most difficult times of my entrepreneurial journey, and also in my personal life. In this post, I want to discuss the practice of mindfulness and meditation for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small business owners. Why it may be a great tool for your life and your business, and also share a meditation audio guide to get you started.
But I’m no hippie!
Me neither (a quick look to my lush wavy hair will confirm that). There’s this stereotype of a topknotted hippie in bleach T-shirt and mandala pants doing yoga and meditating before heading to the next vegan bistro to order a $25 burger.
But far beyond prejudices, meditation is a tool that’s used by a lot of people today to relax, relieve stress and lead a more focused life. It’s practiced by thousands of entrepreneurs, from Fortune-500 company CEOs to small business owners around the globe.
Yes, meditation has its roots in India, Taoism and Buddhism, but it’s not really associated with any religion or school of thought. It’s just a series of techniques to breathe, become aware of your body and focus in the present moment, devoid of any ulterior interpretation.
So my suggestion is to approach meditation with an open mind, as just another tool to add to your repertoire. Something to help you cope with everyday situations in your business, work or life.
Next time you find yourself commuting at the metro, or in a restaurant, or perhaps at the bus stop, have a look around you. Probably, most people there will be looking at the screens of their mobile phones. Lost inside small 5-6 inches worlds, mindlessly scrolling through their Instagram feeds while ignoring everything around them.
When was the last time that you went to the bathroom and didn’t take your phone or iPad with you? How much time can you stay at a bar, waiting for your friends to show up, without feeling the urge to get your phone out of your pocket? 5 minutes? 1 minute? 30 seconds?
I didn’t have a smartphone when I was 20 (yes, it was a
And there’s nothing wrong with checking your Facebook feed every now and then, but I do believe those moments are important. Those are the moments when your mind is allowed to be creative. The moments when that magic we call ideas happen.
Meditation vs Mindfulness
Both terms are frequently confused. And while they share the same origins, meditation and mindfulness are completely different things.
Meditation is a series of techniques used to focus and reach the ultimate consciousness. You achieve that by getting rid of the noise, of all those thoughts crowding our minds, and concentrating on being present, aware of your physical body, your breath, and the world around you.
Mindfulness also implies being present, but it’s applied in a completely different way. It helps you be aware of what you are doing at that very specific moment in your daily activities. Think about what you were doing yesterday during lunch time. Most probably, if you were alone, you were having a look at your Instagram feed, or checking your email at your computer, or even thinking about all the things you needed to get done that afternoon.
Did you enjoy your lunch? What did you eat? How was the food? How did it taste, smelled, looked like? Did you drink water or wine? If you cooked your own meal, can you remember chopping the vegetables, or grating the cheese?
It’s amazing how much we do these days without actually being aware of what we’re doing. Our mind is always busy with thousands of thoughts, so we never focus on what we are experiencing at that precise moment. Mindfulness asks you to focus all your attention on what you are doing. Are you washing the dishes? Good, so concentrate on the feeling of the dishes in your hands, the water -is it cold or hot?- and how you feel about it. Do you hear any sounds? How is the room you are in?
So generally speaking, meditation requires you to take a moment of your time to sit and meditate. The focus is not on what you are doing at that very moment, but rather on what’s going on inside your mind right now. Mindfulness, on the other hand, tries to force you to become aware of what you are doing and experience it, instead of being thinking about future events.
Anyone can play guitar
Meditation is not difficult. No guru can tell you that you are doing it “right” or “wrong”, because there’s no right or wrong, to begin with. There’s no special skills you need to master. It’s a very personal journey, and all it takes is practice.
Yes, there are some simple techniques that you need to learn but, past that, it’s just a matter of being constant and meditating every day. Training your mind to find that moment of silence and concentration.
You also don’t need special gear or a specific place to meditate. You can meditate in a chair of your room, or on your bed, or even while commuting at the train. It’s better if you can find a quiet place, but you can meditate -almost- everywhere.
There’s also the misconception that meditation takes hours, or that you need to wake up at 5am in order to meditate. Far from that, you can devote just 5 or 10 minutes of your day to meditation. I actually never spend more than 10 minutes each day meditating, and it’s more than enough to help me gain some clarity and focus. If I could not find 5 or 10 minutes every day to just sit down and breathe, I would seriously consider a change in my life routine.
Meditation for entrepreneurs 101
This is supposed to be a script for a typical meditation session. You don’t need to strictly follow it, and it’s up to you how much time you spend on every part. It’s just a guide that I follow because it helps me get the best out of my time when meditating.
This session is circular. Meaning, it starts by focusing on
And, of course, this is just a small script to help you get started. It’s not “how you meditate” or “the right way to meditate”. There’s no right or wrong, so feel free to experiment and alter the script as you gain confidence.
The first thing you need to do is sit comfortably. It does not matter where. I like to sit with my legs crossed on a carpet
But you can perfectly sit down on a chair. Or even lie down on the bed if you feel comfortable that way. You are going to spend there 5-10 minutes, so take some time to stretch and make sure there are no tensions anywhere in your body.
Next, familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Have a look at the room around you. Become aware of the space, the light, the objects in the room.
Next, it’s time to focus your attention on your breathing. Start breathing deeply, so deep that someone sitting next to you could hear you. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.
And then, in the fourth or fifth exhalation, gently close your eyes and keep on breathing at a more normal pace. Get used to the rhythm of your breath.
Then it’s time to start focusing on your physical sensations. First, feel the gravity of your body. The weight of your arms over your legs, and the legs and feet over the ground, bed or carpet. Feel how your body pushes you down.
Also, become aware of the sounds around you. Don’t try to focus actively on any sound. Instead, allow these sounds to reach you, listen to them and then move on to the next sound.
Focus your attention also on any smells around you. Is it lunchtime? Can you smell food? Perhaps you are close to the sea and the smell of the ocean gets to you. Embrace those scents.
Then concentrate on your breath again for a second. Follow the gentle movements of your chest up and down for a second.
When you are ready, let’s analyze how your body feels. That’s quite simple. Focus your attention on your body, one part at a time, and continue as if you were a mind scanner, passing through your body slowly. Start at the very bottom, with your toes, and gradually move or scan up. I find it useful to mentally name the parts I am scanning: toes, feet, ankles, lower legs, knees…
Take your time, and analyze how those parts feel. Do you notice any tension on any of them or even pain, or are they nice and relaxed? Don’t do any judgments or stop to consider why your leg may hurt, or why you feel some
Once you have gone through all your body, gently focus your attention on your breathing again. Follow along the oscillating rhythm, and try to locate its origin in your body. Do you feel it in your chest? abdomen? back?
Concentrate all your attention on that. Don’t let any other thought distract you. But don’t try to actively stop thinking. It never works. Instead, just focus on your breath and, as soon as you realize your mind has wandered, and it’s thinking on something else, gently leave that thought go away and focus again on your breathing.
If your mind is busy with lots of thoughts and you are easily distracted over and over again, imagine you are outside in a riverbed. Now imagine that your thoughts are like trunks crossing the river.
Don’t let them grab your attention. Just acknowledge their existence and let them flow down the river. Try to observe your thoughts as if you were a casual observer of your mind (the river). Let your thoughts (the trunks) go down and just keep on focusing on your breathing.
It’s also useful to start counting your breaths. Inhale (1) exhale. Inhale (2) exhale. When you get to 5, start again with 1. Do that for a couple of minutes. Every time you feel your mind has wandered, take it back to breathing.
You may find that it’s easy for you, especially at the beginning, to become distracted and lose count of the breaths. That’s ok. Avoid any judgments. As I mentioned, there’s no right or wrong here, and it’s perfectly fine if your mind is super busy. Just kindly try to focus again on your breathing.
Then, after a couple of minutes, just allow your mind to wander. Give it one minute or two to do whatever it wants to do. If it wants to think on a specific thought, let it do it. If it wants to think on lots of different things, just let it do it. If it wants to not think about anything, let it do it also.
After one or two minutes, it’s time to “get back” to the physical world. Start by focusing on the sounds around you again. The smells, any noises, what you can hear and feel about the room around you.
Then focus again on the gravity your body is subject to. Feel the arms above your arms or the chair, and your body on the floor, bed or carpet. Become aware again of your physical body and how it feels.
Then, when you are ready, kindly open your eyes again and give them some time to adjust to the light.
So stretch your body and look around you. Now it’s time to draw some conclusions. How did it feel? What was going on with your body? Did your mind feel at ease, or there were lots of thoughts crowding it?
It’s not about making judgments or trying to find a problem or a solution here. It’s just a process of being more aware of how you feel and learning from your own body and mind.
The key here is repeating the process every day. Like any other discipline, the more you practice the better you become at meditating. As I mentioned, there’s no right or wrong here. Feel free to modify these steps any way you want.
Meditation for entrepreneurs: audio session
Some people find it really useful to follow all the steps without having to remember them. So I did this audio file with the steps I like to follow when meditating.
During the last years, I’ve found few stress-relieving resources more useful than meditation. Of course, meditation and mindfulness are useful for everybody, but for small business owners, meditation is the perfect tool to prevent stress, focus, relax, and live a happier, healthier life.
In this article, I talk about mindfulness and meditation for entrepreneurs and offer a simple guide for beginners to get started with meditation. I would love to hear back from you. Did it help? Do you meditate often? How is it for you? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below!
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