Introduce mindfulness and contemplation into the business day prior to important tasks
Mindfulness is currently a major buzzword in the area of business. It is no longer surprising to see a corporate meeting begin with the ringing of a meditation bell, or for corporate retreats to offer mindfulness meditation sessions to reduce stress and stimulate focus and creative thinking.
This article identifies a beginning set of mindful practices for entrepreneurs and small business owners to enable them to reap many benefits in their personal and professional lives.
Through meditation directly experience being in the present moment
The foundation of all eastern based mindfulness practices is mindful meditation, which forms the central basis of spiritual practice in Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. Through meditation, a person directly experiences being in the present moment, where the mind and body are calm and focused.
Similarly, Contemplation is the extension of meditation practice to the observation of objects in the world. An elaboration of both processes – meditation and contemplation – follows.
The process of mindful meditation has been passed down in oral tradition since at least the fifth century B.C. It is explained in detail in the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.
The process of sitting meditation can be summarized in a few simple steps:
- Sit comfortably and silently with good posture in a quiet space.
- Focus your attention on your own in-breaths and out-breaths.
- Observe the natural process of your body as if your body is breathing you.
- Breathe naturally from the diaphragm without forcing your breath.
- Feel how your mind and body are becoming calm.
- Allow yourself to experience being totally in this present moment.
Being fully aware
The eyes are generally closed during this process as this avoids visual distractions. Focus on your own breathing, as if the mind were a witness to this natural process of the body. Being fully aware and not forcing the breath, you will naturally breathe more slowly and diaphragmatically. Breathing in and out can be accompanied by internalized phrases like “I have arrived” with the in-breath and “I am home” with the out-breath.
This process is calming and supports the state of mindfulness. Mindful breathing puts the mind and body in a state of calm presence in the moment with openness to perceptions, ideas or concepts without mental obstructions or distractions. If a negative feeling should arise during the meditation, such as fear, anxiety, anger, sadness or despair, you should not try to dismiss or negate the feeling, but rather acknowledge it as your own and embrace it.
Incorporating at least two 15-20 minute sitting meditation sessions into your day will contribute to greater calm, energy and focus throughout the day. It can make you more open to people and opportunities in your environment, make you a better and more empathic listener, and foster better business and personal relationships.
Ringing a meditation or mindfulness bell can add to the experience.
The bell is rung three times at the beginning and three times at the end of a sitting meditation along accompanied by three mindful breaths after each ring. The bell can also be sounded before important events requiring calm and focus, such as project meetings, strategy sessions, or other decision making activities.
This practice can be expanded by treating all bell sounds in the environment as bells of mindfulness. The strategy is simple. Throughout the day, each time you here a bell or bell like sound, you should become silent and focus on your breathing.
Some people have suggested that the angry horn honking of drivers in traffic can be transformed into a satisfying experience, as long as it is experienced as a bell of mindfulness. Even the ringing of the telephone can provide such an opportunity.
Simply breathe silently and focus on your breath for the first three rings and then answer the phone. The calm and empathic way you will answer the phone will be a gift to you and your caller and will help improve your business and personal relationships.
Basic steps of contemplation
Mindfulness can also be manifest in your day through mindful contemplation. Contemplation consists of focusing on a specific thing using the mindfulness contemplation process.
You can choose to focus on anything, a physical object, an idea, a reading, a person. What is important is the contemplative process, itself.
Below are the basic steps of the contemplative process based on a combination of Buddhist and Confucianist practices.
- Rest the mind in the present moment using mindfulness meditation.
- Shift your focus to contemplation.
- Actively consider the chosen object by opening the mind to it, appreciating and synchronizing oneself with the object without judgment.
- Permit yourself to experience it in a very personal way and attain insight.
- Conclude with a positively intended affirmation.
- Let go of the experience and move on, allowing it to naturally permeate your heart and mind.
Introduce such mindful contemplation to business day when reading important written business communication, listening to employees or reviewing a strategic business plan.
Start to imagine how contemplation and mindfulness meditation practices can serve to enrich your business and your personal life.