Mention meditation and many people would associate it with monks chanting in temples or ascetics who have given up all luxuries for a lifetime of deep contemplation in the mountains.
That may be true in the past, but today, meditation is practiced by people from all walks of life. Men and women, spiritual or otherwise, are learning meditation to improve their responses to life’s challenges. And believe it or not, meditation can even help you to improve your business!
Meditation as a business tool? Let me explain.
The ever changing landscape of business often leaves many of us shocked, confused or disillusioned. Responding out of these non-productive states of mind usually result in mindless reactions that not only fail to meet long-term business goals, but may even jeopardize the life span of a company.
Meditation – by helping you to stay more focus and present — can help you to see through the clutters in the market and enable you to make better business decisions. Working by improving your inner landscape, meditation helps you to respond to external events with more awareness and clarity, and hence, change the business results that you deliver over time. As Albert Einstein had once said:
“You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
When we slide into panic mode trying to stop falling sales or to regain market share, what we can only see is the problems that we’re confronting, and not the potentials that have been lying outside the boundaries of our mind all along. It’s no wonder then that the results that we produced out of such self-limiting states are uncreative, mediocre and unsatisfactory. And the saddest part is, many people are not aware of their limiting mental states and go on to reproduce the same mediocre results again and again. Needless to say, a lot of unnecessary frustrations and unhappiness are generated.
But, you do not have to stay in a closed and victimized state. Here is one meditation technique you can practice to shift yourself to a more open and empowering state. This meditation will take about twenty minutes.
1. Choose a quiet place. Settle down comfortably in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for the duration of this meditation. You may choose to sit down on a chair or lie down on a flat surface.
2. Breathe naturally. Close your eyes and breathe naturally and slowly. Inhale with your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Don’t worry if the initial couple of breaths are short and quick. Your breaths will naturally deepen and slow down as you become more relaxed.
3. Relax completely with self-talk. As you breathe in, say silently to yourself “I am…”, and as you breathe out, followed by “relaxed”. Draw out the word “relaxed” during your entire exhaled breath so that it becomes “relaxxxxxxxxed”. Repeat the phrase “I am… relaxed” for every breathe that you take in and expel.
4. Managing distraction. You’ll inevitably find your mind drifting to other thoughts as you meditate, instead of focusing on your breathing and repeating the given phrase. Don’t worry, it’s common, especially for those who are new to meditation. Just bring your attention back to where it should be every time you catch yourself losing focus.
5. Practice for ten minutes. Continue focusing on your breathing and silently repeating the phrase for the next ten minutes. A timer with a non-jarring alarm can be used to help you keep track of time.
6. Now bring a business issue to mind. At the end of ten minutes, bring your attention to one business issue you’re trying to gain deeper insights on. Formulate it as a question, for instance, “How can I improve the sales of XYZ product?” Gentle rest your attention on the selected question. Don’t grasp it too tightly in your mind. You know you are trying too hard when your muscles tense up and your breathing quickens.
7. Explore deeply and clearly. Examine the question from a beginner’s mind, as if this is the first time someone has asked you about it. How do you feel? How would you react? How would your responses change if you’re seeing the problem not as who you are, but from the perspectives of your stakeholders? Think clearly and deeply for another ten minutes, or more if you want.
8. Ending the session. Slowly open your eyes and rest in the present state for a minute of two before getting up. Write down any insights and thoughts you may have on a notebook.
I hope you find this meditation useful in helping you to tackle your business challenges with a clearer and sharper mind. Give it a try and let me know your experience in the comments. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have. Thanks!
Wee Peng Ho conducts mindfulness-based business transformation training as well as stress reduction classes for companies and organizations. To learn more about meditation, read the free article How to Meditate for Beginners on his website.