Clients consistently tell me that I have a grounding presence in their lives. The stability, mindfulness, and caring that I exhibit helps them nourish those same qualities within themselves as they go about starting or growing their business. I attribute this part of my presence to my mindfulness practices.
While I certainly don’t always exhibit calm and equanimity in my life – I am just a regular human being same as everyone else, I have found that my ability to tap into these qualities is activated and deepened by my own commitment to a practice of mindfulness, both formal and “on-the-go”.
So, what is mindfulness? One of my favorite definitions comes from a brochure for the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society:
“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We feel more alive. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.”
This act of being fully awake has a direct impact on the quality of our experience as business owners and our ability to be successful. It’s not just “soft, touchy-feely stuff”. Long before mindfulness became something we talked about, management guru Peter Drucker saw the connection between mindfulness and business. In his 1968 book The Age of Discontinuity he said: “Trained perception and disciplined emotion are as pertinent to the ability to earn a livelihood as they are to the mature human personality.”
Our minds, attention, intuition, and well-being are truly our most important assets when it comes to being a business owner. It is at the core of every moment, every decision, and frankly every dime earned.
Mindfulness is a practice born of ancient wisdom that has become the “new” secret to success. In Mindful (April 2013), Jeremy Hunter writes
“It seems to us now that beyond cloud computers and brilliant smartphones, the secret to productivity lies within and between us. It’s about a calmer, more open and undistracted mind, greater self-awareness, and an enhanced capacity for self-transformation – not to mention disciplined passions and stronger human relationships.”
I know my own personal ongoing practice of cultivating mindfulness has changed my life and my business for the better. You don’t have to retreat to a mountaintop to do this. That is why I want to share with you my personal top 5 tools that are easy-to-use, don’t require much time, and can be used wherever you go (because there you are!).
This is a handy app for your mobile phone (free and low cost versions). With exquisite sounding Tibetan bells and a huge range of flexibility for creating your own meditation session, I love this thing. In fact we use it each month at our monthly meditation gatherings (even when we have our own real Tibetan bells in hand). Whether you choose to sit for one minute or a hundred, you can. I also find this to be a very beautiful and mindful way to time in-person mastermind meetings that I run. No harsh buzzers, an easy way to give a 5-minute warning, it keeps us on-time, in the moment, and fully present with each other. Learn more about the tool here: https://insighttimer.com/
I admit this is a very recent “find” for me. I saw it mentioned in a magazine, so I downloaded it. Consider this your quick 10 minute meditation break that you can do anywhere you are, on the go. They call it the “The urban meditation app for modern life.” Another smartphone app, it offers several different types of guided meditations that you can use sitting, walking, at the gym, or anywhere you need a moment of mental recalibration. Get Buddhify here: http://buddhify.com/
One-Moment Meditation: “How to Meditate in a Moment”
I return to this cool video over and over again. Based on Martin Boroson’s book One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go, it is short, sweet, and as practical as it gets. We all have moments when we’re stuck in traffic, on hold, waiting for something, or simply in need of a respite. This shows you what to do with those moments so you can go from frazzled to Zen. Watch the video here.
Mindfulness Meditation Practice CDs
I honestly feel that Jon Kabat Zinn’s book Full Catastrophe Living darn near saved my life in the mid-1990’s. At that time I also discovered his mindfulness meditation practice tapes (Yes, cassette tapes… I still have them!). They dovetailed perfectly with work I was doing to tame an anxiety and panic attack situation that was derailing me regularly. The meditations are accessible to beginner and seasoned seekers alike. They are also scientifically proven to reduce your stress and improve your health (the author founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Learn more about the CDs here: http://www.mindfulnesscds.com
This is not a specific tool so much as an invitation to have objects nearby that support you in tapping into something greater than yourself and whatever is cluttering your mind. Physical objects and photos can ground you in the moment and open your heart to receive wisdom you need right at that moment. Some of my favorites include the book The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfeld, a tabletop fountain in my office, and healing crystals. Many of my clients and colleagues tell me they use the book I wrote Open to Your Intuitive Intelligence®: Reflections on Nature and Wisdom for exactly this purpose (which was my intention!). The video accompanying my book is mindfulness in action as well and totally free: http://www.thepaulagcompany.com/opentoi2
I am always looking for tools that simplify and help me hone my presence. What tools or practices do you engage in to cultivate mindfulness? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
[Full Disclosure: I don't make a dime off of any of these recommendations (except my book of course) and don't have any personal relationship with the companies that make them. I simply love them, use them, and want to share them with you. ]