The Entrepreneur’s Quickstart Guide to Mindfulness MeditationBy Daniel Schwarz
Today, meditation is often suggested as a way to combat the mental ill effects of the digital age and our continuous partial attention lifestyle. But meditation is capable of so much more than staving off unwanted side effects from our new way of life. Many well-known and successful entrepreneurs have used meditation to their advantage. It helps to clear away the unimportant chatter of the mind and focus it on the important problems.
Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that consists of closing your eyes and breathing in and out in a quiet environment, slowly but deeply, until you feel relaxed enough to contemplate your feelings, thoughts and issues of the day.
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Your mind can experience many emotions in a single day, sometimes even subconsciously. Without examination these emotions can become apparent in the form of boredom, depression, stress (mental or otherwise), lack of motivation — even outbursts. A clear mind is a focused mind.
There are many resources that will help you learn the technique of mindfulness meditation in greater depth, and you’re encouraged to seek them out and do so. But for the busy entrepreneur who hasn’t yet had any experience with the benefits of the practice, here’s what you need to know to be able to try it out right now and start getting acquainted with this essential tool.
In order to better understand what mindfulness meditation is, let’s talk about what it isn’t.
What Mindfulness Isn’t
- Mindfulness isn’t complicated
- Mindfulness isn’t a religion
- Mindfulness doesn’t require “posing”
- Mindfulness doesn’t require special clothing
- Mindfulness doesn’t require a lot of time
- Mindfulness doesn’t trick you into feeling a certain way
As an example, you can meditate for only 10 minutes a day during your morning commute, wearing your ordinary work clothes.
Mindfulness can help you to examine your mental strains and anxieties. Anxiety is a terrible affliction that eats away at you and becomes worse the longer you leave it. Meditation offers you the chance to see firsthand what’s causing it; after that you can begin to construct a solution and ultimately lower your stress levels. Eventually, if you allow your anxieties to grow, your mental stress will turn into physical stress and fatigue.
A troubled or clouded mind tends to make you feel disconnected from the world — more specifically, from those close to you. By meditating on your thoughts and feelings for only a short while every day, you can be free to engage in meaningful conversations, rather than staring into a blank space while your loved ones gradually begin to give up trying to make conversation with you.
In fact, the core aim of mindfulness meditation is to help you focus on the tasks at hand. Not only can it can improve your relationships with others, it can make you more compassionate, more empathetic, more motivated, and significantly happier.
Identifying Bad Habits Through Self-Awareness
It’s natural to develop bad habits over time. Whether its late-night binging or checking Facebook during work hours, we rarely acknowledge our bad habits on a superconscious level; we know we shouldn’t be doing it, but we’re not actively sitting down and saying to ourselves, “I shouldn’t be doing this because…”.
Meditation can offer you self-awareness, and in turn help you to identify bad habits in your routine behaviour.
Healthy Mind = Healthy Eating
For many of us, one of those bad habits is eating bad food. Junk food sends your brain’s “reward system” into total meltdown, which is why we have the tendency to become addicted to it so easily. Bad food generally makes us feel temporarily happier (by releasing more dopamine hormones) than healthier food does, and the more you reward yourself with it, the more acceptable it becomes to you.
Sadly, mindfulness doesn’t release dopamine in the same way (though studies suggest that with consistent practice, meditation does have substantial beneficial effects on our dopaminergic reward systems). But rather than acting as a direct substitute for cheap dopamine fixes, you can meditate on your habits and try to rewire your brain into finding surrogate sources for it. Watching television, listening to music, browsing the internet or reading a book can act as an alternative way of finding dopamine, which is released in the body every time you “feed” your brain with new information.
By recognising your habits first, you can change them.
How to Practise Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation starts with breathing. You can meditate anywhere really, but it is best to be somewhere quiet, where you won’t be distracted by the sounds of what’s going on around you.
Positioning and Breathing
Over time you can challenge your mindfulness skills by trying to meditate in crowded or noisy spaces, but if you’re starting out it’s best to choose a comfortable, quiet spot in your home and either close your eyes or dim the lights. Breath in and out slowly (but deeply) until your mind begins to feel vacant and relaxed.
Quick tip: sit up straight, and with confidence. Straighten, but don’t stiffen, and place your hands assertively on your legs, regardless of whether you’re sitting up or sitting cross-legged.
Problems — we all have them. Mindfulness is not about solving them per se, but rather trying to understand why we feel a certain way, acknowledging the issues and coming to terms with the facts and fiction of those issues. Anxiety and stress leads to irrational thinking, irrational thinking leads to rumination, and rumination leads you to believe that your issues are far worse than they actually are. Mindfulness meditation calms you to the point where you can think rationally.
If you feel like you’re becoming irritated or emotionally attached to an issue, stop thinking about it and simply start at the beginning again. Concentrate only on breathing until you feel like you can explore the issue rationally again.
Mindfulness meditation isn’t only about ridding yourself of negative, stressful thoughts. It’s totally okay — actually, it’s completely encouraged to take a few moments of your day to focus on what’s going splendidly and what you have to look forward to. Going on holiday? Is business booming this month? Having a baby? Productivity is a direct result of motivation, which is a direct result of genuine, unadulterated happiness.
Mindfulness is the most basic form of meditation. Even without ambient sounds, aromatic smells or deep-tissue massages, you can experience total clarity simply by examining your thoughts rationally. 10 minutes of your time each day is a bargain investment to make if your mindful meditation results in a stress-free, motivated, focused, and healthy mind.