(And How To Make it Work at Work)
Working while supporting a healthy life is an everyday challenge for all of us. Add in the stresses of running or working for a startup and that challenge is multiplied exponentially. It’s no secret that long hours, hectic and unstructured schedules and high stress situations can take a toll. The secret is how to juggle these daily stresses without growing grey hair and an (even bigger) potbelly. Losing your balance can mean losing your business edge, and even losing your business. One practice that provides peace, patience and positivity in a sometimes chaotic world: meditation.
Don’t worry, this isn’t hippy mumbo jumbo. Meditation promotes increased presence, mindfulness and productivity. The work day builds noise between the ears that often prevents your focus from remaining squarely on one subject. Meditation in the work place silences that noise and encourages balance, which is beneficial to your life. Here are three simple meditation steps you can implement in your everyday routine to improve your work (and sanity).
Drink More Water
This is step one. Running your own business is exhausting. For that reason, coffee, RedBull, and other stimulants are the life blood of many manic entrepreneurs. Staying awake and sharp through late nights and early mornings is important, but so is replenishing your body’s water. It sounds simple, but we’re made of water. Drinking water brings health and balance to bodies, especially those entrepreneurial bodies starved for sleep and routine. Make sure to take time out of your day to intentionally stop and drink water. Not only will you replenish and rehydrate, but you’ll force yourself to break from your work, if only for a moment.
No, this isn’t some useless phrase. Grounding yourself takes a few physical steps and positively alters your state of mind. The best part about it – you can do it at your desk. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, evenly spaced directly below your knees. Sit on your sit bones, not on the curve of your spine. Straighten your spine, positioning your shoulders over your hips, and lift your head to match this posture. Fix your gaze down the angle of your nose on a still object roughly six feet in front of you.
Once you assume and maintain this posture, it will result in enhanced presence and mindfulness. It’s so easy to lose focus on the here and now when juggling dozens of tasks and responsibilities. Without that focus, it’s easy to lose power in ideation and let opportunities go without fully capitalizing. Grounding yourself allows you to maintain clarity of thought in each moment. Once you fully engage in that moment, you can move to the next demanding situation and give it your full focus and attention. The next step: breathing.
It sounds simple, but we often forget to breathe well. Focusing on the importance, consistency, and calming effect of your breath channels power through your body and provides a platform for heightened focus.
The first exercise you can practice is squaring your breath. Focus on something still in front of you. Breathe in for six seconds, then hold that breath for six seconds. Now breathe out six seconds, and hold for six seconds. Repeat for two minutes at a time periodically throughout the day to bring yourself back to center.
The second exercise you can practice is breathing through thought. This is also known as Shambhala meditation. Bring a thought that causes you stress to the front of your mind. Breathe in deeply through that thought, allowing your body to tense as that thought comes to the forefront. Then breathe out deeply, releasing that thought and clearing your mind as the tension and breath leaves your body. Continue this practice until your mind is clear and your body is relaxed.
When a thought comes, do not categorize it or follow it. The thought is not good or bad, it’s just a thought. Address it as such and let it leave your mind as your breath leaves your body. Clearing your mind provides focus and clarity on those thoughts you choose to focus on after completing meditation.
Pretty simple, right? Drink more water, ground yourself, and breathe. If these steps sound easy, it’s because they are. That doesn’t change their effectiveness in improving your life. Treat your body and mind like your startup, giving each one the tools they need to function properly. Adding meditation to your routine is sure to stem your stress and free your mind to function at its fittest.