If you’re a small business owner or a solopreneur, you’re no stranger to the constant chaos and stress of a 7 day work week. How do you stay focused and keep your personal life from unravelling under the pressures of a rigorous schedule and the constant drive to sustainably scale your business?
Catch your wandering mind
Even if you Marie Kondo your task list with Asana and Airtable, and collect all your ideas on Bear and Evernote, there is only so much you can do to stop your mind from relentlessly planning, thinking, innovating and dreaming. Thinking has a point of diminishing returns. For an entrepreneur who’s building an idea into a tangible process/product from the ground up, thought is a precious commodity. The higher the quality of the thought, the higher the potential for a more productive business.
The funny thing about thoughts is that you can’t control how many you have in a day. If the secret of the body is effort, (to get fit, for example, you have to go to the gym and put in quantifiable, physical effort) the secret of the mind is effortlessness. But how can you get your mind to generate only thoughts that are fresh, inspiring and devoid of anxiety?
Starve your mind of stimulus
Running a business can often make life feel very transactional because you’re always trying to maximize profit and minimize cost. The purpose of meditation is to reverse this by starving your mind of any stimulus that could create thoughts. But the mind can only experience the world through the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Think about it: in the absence of the five senses, we’re not experiencing anything at all. Therefore, while meditating, you’re not watching Netflix, drinking wine, having sex, listening to music or smelling the roses in your garden, but you’re still in the deepest state of relaxation.
When I sit down to meditate, I sit with this idea: For the next 20 minutes, I am nothing, I do nothing and I want nothing. This might seem counter-intuitive in the beginning but entering meditation without any expectations frees you from the obligation to respond and recalibrate — you’re essentially freeing yourself from the decision making process and staying fully in the present moment.
Anyone who is meditating for the first time, especially if they’re not starting the practice at a young age, will feel the restlessness waiting to bubble up and conquer them before the practice is finished. But if you make it an active part of your routine, it will get easier over time.
The key is to distinguish between thoughts that are intrusive and thoughts that just pass you by. If your intrusive thoughts are negative, it can put you through a whirlwind of emotional upheaval: you can very quickly move from worry to fear to guilt in a matter of seconds. But if you just become aware that the thought has appeared in your mind, and don’t follow it to its destination, it loses its hold on you.
Tap into your creative core
The more you meditate, the lesser your mind worries. If you’re an anxious person by nature, having a business will only exacerbate your anxiety. Meditation is recommended not just for people who make too many plans—it is also a solution for people who are too anxious to plan. When you meditate regularly, your racing mind will slow down until your thoughts are few and far between. Eventually, you will start to notice and wait for the intervals between two thoughts, when your mind is literally focused on nothing. The more your capacity to be in touch with this nothingness, the more still you become. This stillness is a storehouse of creative energy. Tap into it and your intuition will blossom, and your confidence will skyrocket.
For 20 minutes a day, embrace nothingness. This will keep your business intact, your personal health on track, and your energies sustainable for the long haul.