Once I hit my 365th straight day of doing at least 10 minutes of meditation, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Was it worth it?” As a busy entrepreneur, I always think of my opportunity cost and how many more emails or sales calls I could have completed in those 10 minutes. So at first, the answer wasn’t very clear. However, after I realized how sudden and tangible the benefits of meditation were (aside from the long-term health advantages I had read about such as reducing stress and blood pressure), my answer was a resounding “yes.”
What started me on this journey was the non-stop grind of running a company, stressful mood swings and a general dissatisfaction with the speed at which I was growing personally and professionally. I felt like I was losing optimism and control of my life and I didn’t have the time to do anything drastic to turn things around. Ten minutes was all I could spare and meditation was the activity that I felt could put my mind in the right place. Here is what transpired.
My Creativity Increased
In many of the guided meditation tapes I listened to, I practiced a type of meditation that instantly allowed me to take my running mind off of a myriad of ideas and only let the worthwhile ones sink in. Open monitoring meditation is a form of meditation that allows you to open up your mind by being observant of internal and external stimulations. This has been proven to increase creativity.
I became more creative in how I dealt with high-stress situations and how I served my clients and staff without changing the resources or time I was allocated with them. It’s easy to get stuck in the inertia of doing something a certain way just because that’s the way it has always been. When your mind is open, you let new ideas sink in as you flush out the countless ideas, facts and to-do’s that clutter your brain.
My Gratitude Blossomed
Daily gratitude is difficult to practice when we’re fighting off negativity bias and letting a negative event outweigh various positive events that might have occurred on the same day.
A lot of the guided meditations I go through on various apps ask you to be present and grateful for the great things you have happening in your life. Once I get into my groove meditating about four minutes in, my mind completely opens and declutters, which allows me to do a simple visualization of life highlights that make me happy. This ranges anywhere from yesterday’s best moments to my best life memories. No matter how bad of a day you had yesterday or how bad your mood is today, acknowledging what you have been blessed with will always trump negative events, as the good things that happen to you will always outweigh the bad ones.
My Empathy for Others Increased
Some guided meditation packets on apps like Headspace have themes that focus on things like relationships and empathy. These themes usually have you visualize someone important in your life simply smiling or reacting to a good deed you did for them in the past. The effect of this exercise is that you catch yourself smiling and becoming more compassionate for those people, even if in real life they irritate you or have underperformed at work. As a founder, it’s easy to hold a grudge against a customer who dragged out a decision or an employee who missed a deadline. Forcing yourself to be more compassionate simply by imagining them in their happy place can make you more empathetic.
My Willpower to Endure Extreme Physical Exertion Strengthened
A healthy body is a healthy mind. And if you’re like me, challenging yourself to conquer a triathlon or a hike the equivalent height of Mount Everest can be the ammunition to dissolving any stress or frustrations holding you down at work. Meditation teaches some amazing breathing techniques, which allow you to visualize the breath in different parts of your body to make you present and free your mind of distraction. When you feel like your lungs are about to explode on the last leg of your race, the best way to disguise the pain is to start counting your breath in different parts of the body. I quickly found that I had the willpower to endure pain much easier and even find ways to enjoy extreme physical exercise.
My Decision-Making Improved
Meditation forces you to slow down and constantly check in with your feelings and impulses that do not serve you. Going at a million miles an hour from meeting to meeting and email to email is not conducive to making important decisions. It can be difficult to adjust your rate of making decisions in a high-paced environment and cause you not to think something all the way through. Further, in a world of constant self-comparison and competition, you might be tempted to choose a scenario that’s wrong for both parties if you feel like the other side is gaining an advantage. For example, rejecting a partnership opportunity that improves both sides, albeit unproportionately, is an irrational decision that meditation has been proven to mitigate.
Meditating only 10 minutes a day has been a pivotal practice to stay creative, have other people’s best interests at heart and keep my mind in a positive and rational state despite the constant setbacks that the entrepreneurial journey throws your way.
It takes years to build a company that can outlast the competition and attract the right talent. But in less than a year, you can ensure that you are in the best possible position for future success by taking time to slow down and train your brain to focus on what really matters.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.