I have never been really big into meditation or sitting a quiet room and just thinking. As someone who is constantly on the go, hopping from project to project to lunch meeting to family dinner, I find it hard to just stop. After all, time doesn’t stop for us. Each second that ticks away is one we can never get back. And I’ve always been the type to make every second count.
It’s funny though, being a Christian, our entire religion is based on meditation. Psalms 46:10 instructs us to “Be Still, and know that I am God.” This is God telling us that no matter what we’re going through, what we’re facing, what may be going on, that if we just stop for a moment, and remember that he’s in control, it will bring us peace.
That’s what I always assumed the goal of meditation was; inner peace. To sit in a quiet room away from all distractions, and breathe deeply until somehow I achieve enlightenment. Thankfully, I love to be proven wrong.
To say the last few months have been hectic for me is an understatement. It’s been amazing to see all the projects my team has been working on starting to take off. And not just take off in that they’re starting to turn a profit, but we’re at the point where outside investors are starting to put money on the table.
But as everyone knows, with growth comes growing pains. Increased workload, larger teams to manage, and new skills to learn are just a few of the daily things I’m facing. I love every second of it and am thankful to be a part of this process, but not every step of the journey is a pleasant one.
A few weeks back something in my brain clicked. For those of you who use online cloud software for storage, I’m sure you’ve seen the dreaded “Storage almost full” notification a few times. That was what my brain was telling me. Putting so many hours into my work without breaks or any form of relaxation other than passing out at night had fried my mind. I realized I was not making the best decisions, instead opting for quick fixes or having someone else make the decision for me (huge mistake).
As a leader of multiple companies, it’s important to always have some form of a birds eye view of everything. Where the money is going, how much time is being spent on what, etc. But I had spent so much time working in the company, I had forgotten to actually work on the company.
So, I had addressed the problem. What was the solution?
Like the Facebook Ad that always knows what you’re thinking, I was recommended Waking Up, a meditation guidance app that is played every morning just after waking up. Each session coaches people who have never meditated before, focusing on the art of mindfulness; being presently aware in the moment.
I struggled with this concept at first, because technically, aren’t we always present? I’m sitting in meetings all day making suggestions and decisions, so I have to be present, right?
The answer is yes and no. We can easily fall into what I call “autopilot” mode, especially if your day’s structure is relatively similar day to day. We know where we need to be and when, we know what we need to say, and we know that each day will end with us resting out head at night. The brain recognizes these patterns, and since it needs to conserve energy for other tasks, it puts us into a sort of autopilot mode. Sure, we’re awake and processing incoming data, but are we really actually conscious of it?
Think about when you sit down and browse social media, especially TikTok. Can you remember every single video you watched in the last hour? Of course not, because the brain only has the capacity to retain a certain amount of information. Only the important things make it through.
One exercise in Waking Up involved focusing on one object with your eyes. Wherever you are, focus your vision on one specific object. At first, you are 100% concentrated on that object. But then you begin to realize, you are still seeing everything around you. Everything is still in your range of vision, but you’ve somehow managed to block everything out and focus on this one object.
That’s mindfulness. Being able to be present in the moment, but take a pause and focus your attention on the things that do matter. Everything is still happening around you, the world continues to spin, but just taking a brief moment to be still, and give your undivided attention to something. A thought, a problem you’re facing, a bird flying by.
In the last month I’ve gone from getting straight up in the mornings and hopping on my computer, to actually working less throughout the day, and starting each day with a mindfulness exercise. Being able to pause every morning, and throughout the day, has made an incredible difference on my ability to preform in my leadership role. Instead of making more decisions each day, I make considerably less, but they are more developed, thought out resolutions, as opposed to the “Yeah sure whatever, just do it” I was so used to giving.
Now I’m not saying go out and buy a meditation app like me, but I’m more suggesting that you take time throughout the day, especially in the morning, to just stop and think. Our society is moving faster than ever, so being able to have the ability to actually stop in itself is a superpower.
Accept the distractions and problems will always be there, but shift your focus to the positives and solutions instead. Be present in some form in each moment, instead of being a robot mindlessly grinding away throughout the day.
Focus on what’s important.