How my understanding of meditation has evolved and greatly affected my business
The other day, I was talking to my mom about meditation and how it’s helped me with my business - she’s the very first person who ever introduced me to it when I was a teenager.
It took a while for me to fully understand meditation and since I started doing it seriously (by seriously, I mean intentionally), my emotional, mental, and physical health have greatly improved. I went from being an anorexic Type A, uptight, ball of stress with chronic back pain to slightly Type A but way more chill and much, much healthier. I feel way more confident about myself, my inner voice, and the decisions I make than I ever did before. I work easy instead of working hard. And of course, with that, the clarity, confidence, and love I have for my business and all that goes into it has skyrocketed.
So when my mom told me that she doesn’t meditate as much anymore because it’s really hard to “empty her mind,” my ego was like, “UGH WHY WAS THAT EVER PUT INTO YOUR HEAD???? You’re missing out on all the REAL benefits of meditation!”
Then my inner voice said, “allow,” and “share.” I interpreted this as, “Everyone has their own definition for everything in this universe and you don’t need to convince them otherwise. Allow them to have their own experience and just share yours without judgment or desire to change others.”
So that’s what I did. I shared my experience with meditation with my mom without trying to convince her to change her mind, and I felt called to share it in a blog post for you guys as well. Be sure to scroll down to leave me a comment and share your own experience with meditation so others can get different perspectives, too!
What is meditation?
I’ve heard many many definitions of meditation. Some say it’s when you focus your attention on any one thing. According to Headspace, a very popular app used by those who like to or are beginning to meditate, meditation is when you train yourself to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment, instead of trying to turn them off.
My mother learned about meditation from a Chinese doctor she was seeing (which is its own story for another time) who told her that in order to meditate correctly, she had to sit in a quiet, dark place, and empty her mind.
I remember when I heard this, I just didn’t understand. How do you empty your mind? A few years later, when I started going to yoga classes, I’d look forward to the end of class when the instructor would say, “Let’s get into corpse pose now for a few minutes to wind your body down and meditate.” Perfect, nap time. Zzzz…
Below, I’m going to share with you my understanding of meditation and how it has evolved.
Meditation = focusing on only one thing
When you start a business, and especially if you have a lot of different interests like I do, it can be really hard to stay focused. There were so many different ideas and thoughts going through my mind at all times, it was hard to explain to people what I was doing with my business.
And not being understood by others is one of my biggest insecurities. My family used to tease my grandma whenever she would start saying something in the middle of a thought and we would have no idea what she was talking about. She was always good natured about it and laughed it off, but for some reason, for me, not being able to communicate clearly and then be understood easily was very painful.
When I started my first business, I was very sensitive to whether I was communicating clearly or not. I would get very frustrated at myself whenever the person I was talking to clearly didn’t understand what I was talking about. On bad days, for example when I’d go to networking events and encounter this multiple times over, my self-deprecating thoughts would spiral down until I was telling myself I was a total failure and I wasn’t cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Eventually, it got to the point where I didn’t know what to do next to make my life and business better. I was constantly stressed out, not sleeping very much, and in pain. So I hired a coach.
When my coach had a hard time following my thoughts, she asked me to sit down and meditate.
I was immediately resistant because again, for someone who is constantly thinking thoughts and getting excited about random things, it’s damn near impossible to NOT think things.
My coach then explained that meditation was about bringing my awareness to one thing at a time.
I started off slow - just bringing my awareness to my breath. But even that was hard. My mind would say, “Ok, breathe in, breathe out, ok, I’m breathing, great, what’s for lunch? Oo, there’s an avocado in the fridge…Wait, I’m breathing. Breathe in, breathe out, what should I do with that avocado? Oo!! I could make a salad with cucumbers and tomatoes! WAIT I’M BREATHING, BREATHE IN, JESS, BREATHE OUT,” and so on and so forth. Eventually, my mind would get to the point where it screams, “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? LET’S EAT THAT DAMN AVOCADO!” Lol.
Ok, so then my coach had to switch gears and teach me some more about how the mind works.
If you resonate with this, I have something for you! I started understanding meditation when my coach taught me one of the purposes behind it that will help me reach my goals. But it wasn’t until I started swimming again that I really felt like I understood. And no, it’s not to clear your mind so you can focus on work. What I learned shed a whole new light on meditation and the reason why I was doing it that felt so aligned with who I am and what I want to provide in this lifetime. To others.
Meditation = observing and building awareness of your thoughts and emotions
My coach helped me understand that I could change my life by changing my thoughts.
My (your) thoughts are not ME (you). This was hard to understand at first. We’re usually taught in grade school, “I think therefore I am,” by Rene Descartes. But through working with my coach, I’ve come to understand “I am, therefore I think.”
I had learned about neuroplasticity in grad school - it means that your brain can change, which means you can change the way that you think and move your body. My coach taught me how to take that understanding many layers deeper to the idea that if you change the way that you think and move, you’re also changing the way that you feel. You’re essentially changing yourself. Take it many more layers deeper and you get to the understanding that by changing yourself, you can also change your external circumstances and your entire life.
I was unhappy with my business and the lack of success I was seeing at the time, and my coach helped me understand that the way I was thinking was directly creating that outcome in my life. I was thinking unsuccessful and failure thoughts, so of course that’s what I was experiencing in physical reality.
So how can we change this? First of all, you have to identify your thoughts and emotions before you can change them efficiently. And you can do this with meditation.
I learned how to observe my thoughts and emotions passing by when I’m meditating and not get attached to or carried away by any of them.
By observing them, I started putting words to the thoughts and emotions that were going through my mind and was able to identify those that were directly creating the un-success I was experiencing.
So the purpose behind meditation shifted from “clear your mind” to “observe your thoughts” to “observe them and decide how you’d like to think and feel instead.”
Meditation = a time to open up my mind and receive inspiration to create a more successful business
Once I got the hang of this, my coach taught me that I could actually use meditation as a time to open up my mind and receive inspiration. I grew up in an atheist family. I was taught to believe in myself only and not to rely on anyone or anything else, much less some mysterious thing people called God, to change my life.
But through working with my coach, I came to understand that my understanding of God could also change. So I gradually shifted my way of thinking of God from “this supposedly all-loving being that also punishes people and makes them do horrible things to each other in its name” to an “all pervasive energy that the spaces between every single atom in this universe are made of and is nothing but love.”
I chose to believe that when we get “hit with awesome ideas,” those ideas already exist out there in that energy field, and that I became attuned to it with my own energy, allowing me to “receive” it in my own consciousness.
I chose to use meditation as a time to align my own energy to the all-pervasive love in which all awesome ideas come from. I started using that time to “download” inspiration that my logical human mind either would have taken forever to come up with or never would have come up with it at all due to the rules about life and business it’s learned from past experiences.
When my idea and beliefs around meditation shifted and I began to see what it did for my confidence and my business, I really started understanding the value of the practice.
Instead of working so hard all the time, I could spend time attuning myself to love energy and out of that practice, awesome ideas would come to me, and when I followed through with them and took action, incredible things would happen.
In order for your life to change, you have to change who you are, and there’s no way to do that if you’re still thinking as the person you are right now.
Meditation offers you an opportunity to un-be yourself so you can be the person you want to be and hence download information or ideas that that person would get and once you take action, you’re acting as that person and your life would have no choice but to eventually reflect back to you that you are indeed living your life as that person you want to be.
Now all of this was fine and dandy, but I still found it hard sometimes to sit on the couch and be still. I have a lot of energy and sometimes I’m not sure what to do with it. So I didn’t get to the understanding I have of meditation today until I went back to swimming.
First, when I went back to swimming, I noticed how nice it was turn my mind off for a second to its usual barrage of thoughts about business and money and clients and emails and blog posts and just focus on my breathing (4 strokes, one breath to the right) and what my body is doing and how it feels.
I admittedly am not someone who likes to move her body unless there is nice scenery to look at and someone enjoyable to look at it with. So I don’t spend a lot of time tuning in to my body. But after swimming, I started noticing how renewed and rejuvenated I felt. My friends had always talked about that kick of energy they feel after they work out, but for me, after working out, I usually felt depleted, sleepy and lazy. It wasn’t until I started swimming again that I finally understood what they meant. I always felt strong, healthy, ready to be inspired and ready to inspire others whenever I came out of the gym after a good swim, some time in the sauna, and a nice shower. The work I produced after I swam was not only more in quantity, but it was much higher quality.
I realized that everything I did at the gym was a big meditation. I was focusing on my body and how it felt.
I always noticed how the cool water would give me a little bit of a shock when I’d first jump in, then I’d notice how strong my arms felt going through the strokes, how long and lean my whole body felt cutting and slicing through the water, and I always enjoyed how the water rushed pack my cheeks whenever I’d come up for a breath. I felt powerful. And I felt so appreciative of having this body to experience this with.
Then I’d go into the sauna and feel the heat hugging me from all sides and allow my now tight muscles to relax back down. I’d bring my attention to my breath and enjoy how powerful my body felt. I would do the same throughout my shower too. It was a full 1.5 hours that I allowed myself to only observe how I felt in my body and my mind and in that way I was allowing myself to just observe my thoughts and emotions without any judgement. I just enjoyed whatever came through.
So for me, I understand meditation and use it for two purposes, and swimming has been the ultimate meditation in which I get to use both.
I highly encourage you to find your own way of meditating.
But before you get into it, I just want to recap the 4 biggest benefits of meditation for your business and its most common misconceptions.
4 biggest benefits of meditation on your business:
Saves you a ton of time and energy on busy work
Helps you “download” inspiring ideas and instructions that result in you moving closer to your goals in ways you could not have thought of logically
Releases stress and anxiety
Helps you change the your perspective, your thoughts, emotions, and actions - effectively changes who you are as long as you have the intention of getting up from meditation as a different person (to learn more about this, I highly suggest reading or listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself)
3 most common misconceptions:
You need to empty your mind - Observe your thoughts and feelings and allow them to float on by in your mind and body instead
Meditation takes a lot of time - It does not have to take a long time. My shortest meditations can be only 10 seconds long in a busy place and 15 minutes long sitting in a quiet place and up to 90 minutes when I’m moving (swimming, running, etc.).
It has to look a certain way, i.e. lotus position with eyes closed - I literally meditate anywhere and everywhere. Whenever I notice myself feeling a bit stressed, I pop inside my mind for a little meditation. I’ve done it on public transport sitting down and/or standing up, with my eyes open or closed, inside the comfort of my own home lying down in bed or on the floor/couch, sitting up leaning against my bed, etc. And then of course I meditate when I’m at the gym. You can customize your experience to however you want.
So I don’t think anymore that my mother’s Chinese doc’s definition was wrong, and neither is my mom’s interpretation. I think the doc meant to help Mom detach from her thoughts and her mind. To understand that she is separate from them and can therefore change them and change her life.
I’d like to hear your thoughts below!