Quick tips and short n’ sweet doses of meditative goodness when you’re short on time.
I’m a big advocate of working from our natural energy in our businesses. As founders, starters, operators, and leaders, our businesses rely on us for it. And by energy I mean the actual, physical, mental and emotional energy that comes to each of us most authentically, without trying. The kind of effort we don’t have to conjure.
Pocket-sized and practical
There’s a boatload of studies showing meditation can positively affect just about every area of our well-being (like lowering stress, anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders, blood pressure, our response to physical pain, and even the risk of heart disease and stroke.) Proof is aplenty, and if you want to find it you’re welcome to go Google it on a day off (you know… days off?).
Today the only aim is this: to give you practical, easy access to short ‘n sweet meditations that still give you some of the goods which meditation offers, sans religious spin or hours blocked off your calendar.
Meditations you can do on the spot, in a bind, or in a car. Before presentations, after presentations, at the beginning of your day, or in the few minutes between client meetings. Because in my experience, those are the moments we most need a surge of clarity, rest, reminding, re-centering, rejuvenating, or re-energizing.
[My favorite question:] Why?
When you wake up already thinking about work, already feeling rushed to get your business done, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t approach the myriad of decisions you need to make that day from a place of wisdom or calm forward-thinking.
Our aim as business owners is to approach our work from a place of centeredness, brilliance, or ____ [pick your own happy place]. Not to approach everything else from a place of work.
The key to working well is stepping away from it. Giving your brain and body a different activity. The same way coming back from a refreshing vacation allows you to instantly spot the things that feel good and belong in your life, and the petty things that don’t.
Don’t let work rule your approach — let your approach rule your work.
Meditation is something I grew into gradually, and only started to love when I landed on a method that meshed with my own tendency to think in pictures. So pick one that fits your style–then play with it, test it, mold it. It may take time to find your groove, but it’s worth it to have a “brain mint” in your back pocket for the crazy days life and business throw at you.
(P.S. These are also great “warm ups” for deeper or longer meditation times or prayer.)
Step 1 to any meditative jaunt
Find a place you won’t be interrupted (or distracted by sights or sounds). Someplace comfy (but not so comfy you’ll crash asleep). Sit so your back is straight. There are way more setup techniques than this if you want to go all-out Zen, but let’s just keep it simple for today, shall we?
3 Super-Simple Meditations:
1) For tactical learners (i.e. touch it/ taste it/ feel it/ do it types). This is my favorite warm-up, which I nabbed and slightly altered from Quaker author Richard Foster: an exercise he calls “Centering Down.” Sit with your palms up as you take a breath in, and if a concern or issue weighing on your mind arises, on your exhale breath turn your palms down as you say, “Palms down.” In other words, let it go. Release it. (Feel free to add your own ingenious phrase.) I like to do this over and over until I’m able to breathe in, palms up, without anything pressing coming to mind. That’s when I know I’m in a good, clear place to start… well, anything.
2) For audiophiles (i.e. music/ sound lovers): You hear a lot about breathing, but I think Alan Watts explains it best in his classic Still The Mind. When you’re comfortable, and without doing anything, simply become aware of your breathing. Let it happen naturally. Don’t push the air out, let it fall out, as if its own weight was doing falling on its own. The breath will return. When it does, let it fall in through your nose. When it’s ready let it drop out again. If you like, float a sound on the out breath, without strain, and without comment. A sound that pleases you and agrees with your own voice. Even hum a sound, or a note. As you get comfortable and absorbed in the sound, you’ll find, like a master musician with his favorite instrument, it will begin to “play itself.”
3) For Visualizers. Get comfy and close your eyes, and imagine a place where you feel 100% allowed to be. Your sanctuary. Your soul-happy place. Space where you are free, comfortable, comforted, and whole. And then… hang out there a while. You can imagine exploring, or simply sit and taking in the view–just like you might with a few minutes of alone time on a holiday. If you really want to get centered and strengthened, imagine encountering your True (ie, ego-less, healthy, and strongest) self there. What does he really care about? What does she tell you? What do you look like at your strongest self? Imagine putting that self on.
When you feel rejuvenated and ready, gradually imagine the real space you’re sitting in, remembering what’s physically around you, and when you’re ready, open your eyes. (I find this helps to re-awaken to the day.)
Try them — before you need them
Try a combination of these and play around. You can’t carry a tried-and-true “clear my head” technique around with you until you’ve tried-and-trued it first. In fact, take five minutes right now to try one out. See how it works.
And play! When I really can’t seem to clear my head, I like to do the first exercise and visually imagine sending each concern that arises off (“palms down”) with a blessing or prayer. It basically transforms my day.
If you’re loathe to ‘leave’ your happy space, take it a sign: you need more rest. Maybe sleep, non-working, or play time. Or maybe, it’s time to revisit the Why you got into this business and what you’re doing in it. (Can’t recall? Contact me, we can get you back there.)
If none of these strike your fancy, pull out all the stops with this one (also from Mr. Watts):
Stand up. Then laugh out loud for five minutes.
No kidding. Fake it if you have to. It’s amazing.
Photo by Kelly Kasper Photography.