In the day-to-day grind of work, when you experience something that re-awakens you to the joy of the job, to that “thing” that made you go into the field to begin with, where you can take a step back and look at the bigger, broader picture of your place within that field, that’s a powerful moment. Validation and affirmation of career choice can come in many forms. Sometimes, as a small business owner it can seem elusive because of the many balls we juggle at one time.
I suffer from mild anxiety. I’ve been dealing with it for years. Induced by work, relationships, health, and random spells of I-have-no-idea-why. I’ve occasionally treated it with doctor prescribed medications but the most effective medicine for my anxiety has been - meditation.
When I got pregnant in 2015 and had to stop taking any anxiety medications I recognized the immediate need to get it under control. That’s when I started focusing more on meditation and mindfulness. It was difficult at first, five minutes of meditation would feel like twenty. My mind wandered all over the place and I would want to open my eyes every 30 seconds. But with persistence and forcing myself to do it regularly (every day) it became easier and I’ve become a true believer in its benefits.
I now meditate every morning for anywhere from 10-25 min. I use two meditation apps Insight Timer and Headspace. I alternate from guided meditations (where someone talks you through the meditation) to self-guided with just music or nature sounds. It has helped me in all aspects of life including how I approach, think about, and communicate in my business.
Below are 7 key ways in which meditation has helped me in both my business and personal life.
1. I am more motivated.
I meditate around the same time every morning. It’s become part of my morning routine, just like washing my face. When I’m done, I’m ready to face the rest of the day. It’s the last thing I do before I start my work day so it helps me put things in perspective and prioritize what I need to get done. I feel an energy that I’ve gotten from being still and giving myself the head space to deal with whatever anxieties, concerns, or obstacles that may lay in front of me that day. It makes the things on my to-do list more approachable.
2. I am more calm.
Learning to focus on my breathing has done wonders for my ability to calm myself when I’m feeling any type of overwhelming emotion – anger, sadness, anxiety, frustration. If in the midst of that strong emotion I can take a few long, deep, slow breaths, nine times out of ten I can get through the peak of that emotion faster, with much less intensity and alter my reaction to that emotion.
3. I sleep better.
I used to have insomnia. I would wake up and stay awake for hours because my mind raced. Now, because I am learning how to calm my mind through meditation I fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and average 7 hours a night. (I’m also lucky enough to have an awesome 4-month old who sleeps through the night!)
4. I am more focused.
Meditation allows me to have more clarity in my goals both daily and long-term. In those 10-20 min in the morning it gives me an opportunity to step outside of whatever is holding on to my thoughts and attention and causing me to overthink. It slows me down and allows me to see more clearly.
5. My relationships benefit.
From my relationship with my husband, daughter, parents and business partners. All my relationships are benefiting because I’m learning how to react less and listen more and to understand how my own reactions influence and affect others.
6. I’m happier.
Meditation is the practice of mindfulness. Being more mindful allows me to appreciate things and have perspective on situations that I might have been blind to before because I was lost in the “what-comes-next” mindset. Always waiting on or anticipating the next thing instead of being in the moment. Mindfulness reminds me that “now” is happiness. Now, in work, now in my family and now in my friendships.
7. It gets me to a state of Flow faster.
Since I started meditating regularly it’s much easier to get myself to a creatively motivated and calm, focused state of mind. I feel that sense of excitement and drive that pushes me forward more regularly than I did before. That in and of itself is exciting and keeps me coming back to it every morning. This type of feeling is what I need to get into my own personal flow state of mind.
When I finally got over the hump of pushing myself to meditate every day (which took about 2 weeks of everyday practice) I was hooked. This doesn’t mean I don’t still have an angry outburst, get frustrated, have an emotional overreaction or get stressed. I’m far from monk status! But I am slowly teaching myself the tools to have less of those reactions, to have more productive and thoughtful interactions and to focus as much as possible on being present and mindful in my day-to-day life.
If you are interested in starting meditation but think it might be too hard or aren’t sure where to start, I recommend just starting with setting a reminder on your phone three times a day to stop what you are doing, close your eyes and take five slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths. This is the basic foundation of meditating, and that alone can help reset you in the moment and calm you down. Once you master deep breathing, starting to meditate for two to five minutes a day might seem more approachable.
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