By Ken Kladouris, Forbes Councils Member, Forbes
With all the uncertainty and mental overwhelm in the wake of Covid-19, many business leaders are continuing to face decision fatigue and don’t have the bandwidth to make the best choices for the future. External factors lead to stress, anxiety and panic about what we need to do next.
If we look internally, however, by taking time to find stillness, we can step away from the noise and listen to our true desires and best next steps. With regular practice, the outside noise dissipates, the stillness stays with you for longer, and you have the space to make decisions as you go throughout the day that are best for you and the future you want.
In recent years, I’ve cultivated a regular practice of stillness for about 20 minutes per session. I find that I’m calmer and better able to focus on my goals.
As I’ve reached these goals — starting a company, writing a book and creating an online course — other business leaders have asked me how I reach these milestones that still seem so far away for them. When I explain my daily practice and my recent certification as a Chopra-certified meditation instructor, they often ask about the best tactics to begin their own practice. After all, now is the perfect opportunity to start new habits and create the future you want as the world begins to adjust to a different life than the one we had a year ago.
What you decide to focus on now can be the foundation for the habits that you’ll have a year from now, whether that’s working on a new venture or new project. Here are the tips that I’m sharing with others right now:
1. Find your starting point.
When I first began thinking about meditation and becoming more centered, I realized that I was searching for something that I felt was missing. Many of us hit a level of success that we’re comfortable with, and yet we’re not where we want to be, personally and professionally. I found that a stillness practice could allow me to see the next level and take the steps necessary to shift outside of my current environment and put me in the right place to go where I wanted to go.
As part of this, I like to share an analogy of two people racing to cut down a tree. One begins immediately and saws away, while the other sits down to sharpen his blade before beginning. In the end, he cuts the tree down faster because he has a sharper blade.
We all know that if we feel sharper and have the right tools, everything works as it should and will go quicker. Meditation allows you to sharpen your mind, find mental clarity, and take the best next steps to make progress toward your goal sooner.
2. Start with what you have.
Many people think that you need several requirements in place to start a stillness practice, such as a personal mantra or a smartphone app for guidance. In reality, you simply need to sit down and try it. You don’t need a particular pose or anything that will feel restrictive. Start by sitting on your couch or a place where you can feel safe and comfortable. Relax into this, and you will build your practice.
At first, a stillness practice may feel uncomfortable, and you may feel unsure of what you’re doing. It’s a misnomer that you need to completely clear your thoughts when you meditate. You will have thoughts that come and go during a moment of stillness. That’s normal. The goal is to allow them to occur and then pass. With time, your mind will clear more naturally, and the insights will come.
3. Begin to incorporate your goals.
When people ask me about meditation and their goals, they often want to sit down and rush through the process so they can get to their goals as fast as possible. In reality, it takes time.
You will need to cultivate a regular stillness practice first, then you become more true to your goals, and your goals become more true to you. So many of us are affected by everyone around us telling us what to do and what our goals should be. Instead, we can create that stillness within ourselves to understand what we actually want to do, and then we generate the energy to achieve them.
This practice will affect both your personal and professional growth as well. If you allow it, meditation changes everything about who you are and how you show up. It affects the outcomes of your interactions and relationships with others, as well as the energy and effort that you put into the work that you’re doing. If you are a better version of yourself, everything around you will be better.
Most of all, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself and your mental health through a regular practice that best serves you and incorporates your inner self. Many of us have learned during the past year how important it is to care for our mental well-being as much as our physical well-being. Since this is Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s a good time to embrace a stillness practice that places mental health front and center.
When we forget to care for our minds, we get trapped in our thoughts, and we often replay those thoughts as beliefs and fears that hold us back. Cultivating a stillness practice can quiet your thoughts and change every aspect of your life because you will notice what you’re telling yourself. If you cultivate stillness daily, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll be more focused in placing the attention on what you’re trying to achieve.
Start where you are now, and that will take you to the next step.