Unless you really have avoided all things on the internet and social media, you’ve at least heard of the term “mindfulness.”
You may automatically assume that mindfulness = meditation, and that it’s a practice designed for yogis, millennials, or just people who are really calm. All of these things are untrue.
I’ve also personally come across many articles on the subject of mindfulness. Most of them praise it for its effectiveness, while others say “I tried it for a month but it didn’t work out for me. I can’t make my mind stop.”
Anyone would be crazy to claim that one can make their mind stop from experiencing thoughts. Your mind is always doing its job, which is to think – and yes, that includes overthinking “monkey brain.”
The point of mindfulness is to understand the power of your mind and thoughts, not to make it all disappear. Ironically though, the more you learn to witness your thoughts without judgment, they become less severe and are replaced with a deep sense of peace and calm.
For those articles I found written by people who claim mindfulness didn’t work out for them, I noticed a few things:
- They didn’t really understand what mindfulness means
- They only tried meditation
- They gave up pretty quickly (just one month)
We all have years (our whole lives) of self-sabotaging conditioning and matching thought patterns, and mindfulness is meant to gently help shift out of those patterns over time. So no, you won’t notice a major change in just a month. On average, you need at least 3 months to notice some differences, and a couple of years of dedication to the practice to feel like a new, happier, and calmer person. This also depends on who you are as a person - for some, the change can be noticed more quickly, while for most others it takes more time.
If you google the subject, you may find people who are looking for a 30 day or even 8-week difference. The truth is, the reason people look for a short period of quick change is that they’ve been conditioned to believe that if something works, the results need to be seen fast and immediate. That’s ironically just one of many mindsets our culture needs to shift out of if we want to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. Short term gain is long term pain, and if you honestly think you can change the impact of 20+ years (or however old you are) of thought pattern conditioning in just a couple of months, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
If we are to eat healthily and exercise for a top-performing body, mindfulness is the method for mental wellness and becoming a better person. To get in physical shape, we understand it takes quite a while to see the results. The same thing goes for mental health.
Before I dive into my guide on simple steps to implement mindfulness into your small business, I want to give you a real definition of what mindfulness is and why it’s super important for the success of your small business and career as the founder or owner of a company.
Mindfulness, according to Psychology Today, is the “active, open attention to the present.”
My definition is this: getting out of your head and back into your body, so you can actually experience life instead of being caught up in your thoughts.
So often people are more focused on their emotions and “monkey brain” of racing thoughts that they aren’t present in the moment. This can lead to false perceptions of a situation, anger, aggression, and a defensive attitude. It can also put you in the mindset of “I am a victim” to whatever situation or person you are dealing with.
If you think about how major of a concept this is, you can understand that mindfulness isn’t just meditating or trying to keep your mind quiet (in fact, the goal of meditation isn’t even to have a thoughtless mind, but I’ll get more into that later). Mindfulness is a practice that incorporates multiple techniques that assist you in getting grounded and having your focus on the present so you enjoy life more and experience success.
Thinking about bringing your attention back to the “now” can feel overwhelming, impossible, or even unrealistic. You may also wonder why it is so difficult to do something as simple as being present in the moment.
It’s no one’s fault, but it is the way generations have been conditioned to grow. People have learned that in order to survive, they need to be in a state of preparing for the worst, forcing their way to something that provides safety (a job, money, a home, etc.), and to always be thinking ahead. It’s why most people are constantly in “fight or flight” mode, and paying the consequence of emotional and physical illness. Seldom are we truly relaxed, exhaling deeply, and feeling safe and supported where we are currently at, which is why mindfulness is such an important method.
Our jobs are a natural environment for our fight or flight response to be encouraged, as we are working for survival. It’s also an environment where we are trying to prove our worth. As you already know, we often worry about what will happen if we don’t succeed in being a valuable person.
This is especially true for business owners – as a small business owner, you’re either just starting or are in the process of fulfilling your dream and taking care of your survival, as well as anyone else you may be a caretaker for. Even if you aren’t aware of it, subconsciously this brings a lot of stress and can easily put you in fight or flight mode without even knowing.
If you want your health and the vitality of any employees to be thriving, and your business to stay afloat, mindfulness is something to take into big consideration as you run your business.
As reported by a neuroscientist for Chopra, mindfulness meditation alone can provide these benefits for you and your employees:
- More focused attention
- Positive shifts in mood
- Enhanced self-awareness
- Improved health and well-being
It’s not just small businesses that thrive with a mindfulness and meditation practice. According to Chopra, some of the biggest companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo, and Nike offer mindfulness and meditation rooms for their employees. Steve Jobs incorporated mindfulness into his daily routine to manage and reduce stress, boost his creativity, and to find more clarity.
As you are probably well aware of by now, there are so many hoops to jump through and obstacles to overcome as you begin a business and to continually succeed as a small business owner. Failure is going to happen, and some people (could be you) have a really hard time accepting it and dealing with it.
Fortunately, this is the biggest benefit to a mindfulness practice as a small business owner. You learn how to navigate the failures without compromising your wellbeing, and you gain the skill set of what it takes to be running a successful business:
- the ability to look ahead and visualize
- to know when to take a step back and say “no” or “not right now” to an opportunity
- to problem solve
Mindfulness will naturally help you become more in tune with your intuition, and therefore you’ll have an easier time making more of the right choices. Thus, you’ll experience more success and learn to appreciate failure for its lessons and growth opportunities.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article to get my mindfulness guide for small business owners!
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