With practice, meditation has the potential to change your life. Even a short exercise of just ten minutes a day can provide business benefits beyond reduced heart rate, lower cortisol levels and better rest. The effects are not uniform between practitioners, each person gets different results. “Meditation is an exploration,” explains veteran meditation instructor Jeff Warren. “We have to learn for ourselves exactly how it will change our outlook and the way we work.”
Jeff Warren is a writer, meditation instructor, and co-author of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. He writes and records the Daily Trip on the meditation app Calm, and has created many meditations and courses for Ten Percent Happier. His work makes meditation and practice accessible to a diverse audience, including the U.S. military’s cadets, police officers, Google executives, distractible teens, and “every other conceivable demographic of freethinker.”
I interviewed Warren to discover some surprising benefits for entrepreneurs who make meditation part of their daily routine.
Creativity means discussions and flip charts and drawing and free writing, right? Error. Creativity doesn’t just come from crowds and noise; it also comes from silence. “When the mind becomes still and falls out of its usual thought patterns, it makes itself available for surprising new connections,” Warren said. Do the same things, get the same results. Sit down, sit still, retrain your thinking brain and see what happens.
“Strange ideas from the depths bubble up, offering new associations and possibilities,” he added. “Becoming still is perhaps one of the best practices for creativity.” Being active throughout the day keeps your brain chattering in a way of thinking and acting, in words and actions. But the tranquility that meditation brings can help push this aside, opening up opportunities for breakthroughs, discoveries, and new ideas.
Trust that your mind has the answers you need, it just needs more peace and quiet to find them.
Maybe you think you don’t have time to meditate. Warren suggests you don’t have time not to. “Most people think of meditation as an investment of time,” he said. “Something that takes time and takes away other things, but the counterintuitive thing about meditation is that it actually makes time.” A practice that entails more empty space? It almost sounds too good to be true.
“Taking a little time to do nothing can free up space for more things,” said Warren, who has seen this firsthand: “You gain clarity about what’s important and sometimes about the things you thought were they were urgent turn out not to be so urgent, so you can eventually make more room in your agenda.” Say goodbye to a busy fool and hello to a clearer sense of priority, meaning you can let go of the unimportant without guilt.
Meditation is an investment of time that pays off more time, so spend it with more intention.
A lighter self-image
You might mistake someone who meditates for someone who is intense, antisocial, or boring, “and sometimes that’s true!” laughed Warren. “But sometimes it’s the opposite. There can certainly be some wit that comes out. Meditation can make things pop existentially. You begin to see the randomness of things and the strangeness of the particular configuration you are in.” Meditation makes you realize that absolutely anything can be taken in a lighter way, and that’s a strange realization to have.
“When you stop taking your situation for granted, everything can have this ridiculous or humorous quality,” added Warren. “It’s great to appreciate life’s bizarre twists and turns without being fixated and attached to controlling the outcomes.” The roller coaster of entrepreneurship brings bizarre twists and turns to everyday life, but if you recognize that pattern in life itself, you can enjoy it and see the funny side at the same time. Because what is the alternative?
Take your meditation practice seriously to take yourself less seriously and work in a more light-hearted way.
“Meditation improves the signal-to-noise ratio in our mind,” said Warren. “The more we sit, the more things quiet down and you start to see what’s important.” Similar to meditation’s impact on your creativity, it can also “clarify your values in this moral way, often finding you more connected to compassion or a sense of concern for people.”
It’s not about money and possessions, but about the effect we have on others, including friends, family and clients. But with the noise of the traffic, the news and the notifications, it’s easy to forget that. Meditation can shut down some of the media and commentary and bring more clarity, and according to Warren, our new sense of priority is not only “more reflected in the work we do,” but we now know how to focus on what we do. important in our work.”
Separate meaning from noise without getting carried away by the hype, and channel your purpose into your daily actions to move your business forward without the overwhelming.
More love and purpose
Meditation, in all its different forms, helps practitioners access more love. But Warren said this isn’t “a gentle love,” but “more like a sense of wanting to contribute to something meaningful.” The more you sit, the more the chatter diminishes, the more you are left with what is real and the more you know the reason for your life and work.
Warren believes that “the sense of doing fulfilling work, or wanting to spend time on more fulfilling work, is enhanced through mediation” as we try to find meaning in the actions we take. He also believes that meditation helps you access the “strategies for finding your way there.” The path becomes clearer the quieter we are.
Do what you love and love what you do, and use meditation as a tool to find out exactly what that is.
Better at negotiating and communicating
Negotiating with someone without understanding them isn’t likely to be successful, but “meditation helps you see people for who they are and really hear what they’re saying,” Warren said. “You get a clearer picture of what someone stands for, which not only allows you to understand them better, but also communicate more effectively.”
Meditate to get to know yourself and other people better. Meditate to become better at noticing the subtleties in body language and tone that reveal one’s true intentions and desires. Meditate to develop empathy, connect with other people on a deeper level and achieve win-win situations. “It can make us better listeners and communicators,” said Warren, “and helps you notice when you’re getting in someone’s way.”
Get good at putting your ego aside, seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, and finding the best way forward for everyone involved.
Dissolve in a puddle of cosmic unity
“Yes, the clichés are true,” said Warren. “Meditation can make you feel more connected to everything else, including trees and animals. The feeling of being part of something bigger than you.” Warren thinks this part is “deeply satisfying and at times strange.”
But where better to live for an entrepreneur? The purpose of building a business is to move the world forward and leave a legacy, for your team and customers and the future inhabitants of the planet. Meditation can help you on your mission. “Business is the vehicle through which a lot of action and projects happen, and when you’re more mindful, you see more connections and more opportunities to act on that in creative ways.”
Know what you’re here to do and how it helps everything in the cosmos for more connection and new business opportunities.
Meditation can bring more creativity, more time, and sharper priorities, but it’s much more than a productivity hack for entrepreneurs trying to get more out of each day. Meditation can create more complete people who can appreciate the absurdity of life and business, feel more aligned with their work, and connected with everyone who crosses their path. When this leads to less stress, a lighter way of being and more successful business endeavours, it will have been worth the effort to commit to a regular practice.