Getting through Tough Times: 12 Ways to Find Mindfulness

Now I’m through my dark night of the soul I can coach again! Business people tend to go quiet during tough times, when things are ‘tricky’. Such a small word, that belies the pain beneath such a description.

I learned recently that confidence and self-esteem are bound to my perceived ability to support myself and my family. I realise how much the ability to stay in the here and now contributes to a sense of security when the world seems deeply insecure.

I liken entrepreneurship to both hunting and gathering. Ancient systems within the body mobilised in times of perceived danger. Setting a strong intent to put food on the family’s table then letting instinct take over. Communication between businesses takes on a more urgent note. “Do you have any work going? Let me know if you want to collaborate on a bid” senses alert, eyes bright with anticipation of a ‘kill’ – the message comes through and you pounce- noticing the merest sliver of an opportunity and fanning it until it bursts into flames and the money is transferred into the account. And breathe.

[quote]I realise that I have chosen a seemingly insecure path yet it enlivens me, inspires me to keep learning, keep creating new ideas. I realise that I love it.[/quote]

I realise that I have chosen a seemingly insecure path yet it enlivens me, inspires me to keep learning, keep creating new ideas. I realise that I love it. The uneasy feeling when big bills loom and invoices remain unpaid.  The knowledge that I’ve been through worse and I’m still here, still in business. Noticing the similarities to past financial hard times and the differences. Differences that call for new strategies, new ways of dealing with uncertainty.

Mindfulness requires unhooking the tyranny of the past and the fear of the future. Finding this easy, graceful space within the mind is easier than you think. There are many ways to balance the mind, ease the internal dialogue.

“I can’t meditate” a business friend said to me this week “I can’t turn off my thoughts.” A common misunderstanding of meditation is that you have to struggle to turn off your thoughts. It’s much gentler than that, for me it’s about allowing whatever thoughts come into the mind to be present and then they tend to leave of their own accord. A little like watching a stream of words enter stage left and leave stage right. In the spirit of slightly curious and detached observation we can stay focussed on our breath, a word, a sound, a sensation in the body, returning over and over to this focus.

I’ve just returned from leading a retreat in Spain where we explored a different meditation style every morning. Each session designed to allow the body’s own fantastic calming down system to be activated and thus strengthened. Each morning we brought our unruly thoughts gently into the present moment. It was hugely restorative and energising.

In this recession we need our wits about us. Luckily there are many ways of achieving peace of mind despite the external situation. It’s the ultimate strength, to be able, as Victor Frankl so famously said, to choose our response in any given situation.

Pointers for learning mindfulness:

1. Explore meditation practises and find one that works for you. It doesn’t have to be linked to a religion or esoteric belief system and as little as ten minutes a day can bring noticeable positive changes within a few weeks of practise.

2. Regularly spend time unhooked from social media. Recognise if you are addicted to Facebook etc. the dopamine hit from messaging that is identical to the brain chemistry of a drug addiction.

3. Spend time in nature. Lowering blood pressure, calming the mind and again bringing us into the present moment.

4. Spend more time with people who make you feel good and less time with people who drain you.

5. Find ways of being kinder to yourself. Make time for yourself beyond your roles in life of business owner, mother, colleague, friend, brother etc

6. Move your body – dance, play games, sport, walk, cycle, do gardening, yoga, Pilates, Nia etc. releases tension and improves mood as well as increasing strength, balance, stamina etc.

7. Find out what foods give you energy and enjoy preparing and sharing meals.

8. Phone a friend, taking care to avoid the ‘moan and groan society’.

9. Occasionally watch clouds.

10. Walk the labyrinth at Norwich Cathedral cloisters, slowly, deliberately and remember to breathe fully.

11. Stand up straight shoulders away from the ears. Opening the front of the chest to allow more oxygen in. Breathe deeply and involve the belly, noticing it expand with every inhalation.

12. Step away from the computer at regular intervals. The more refreshed we are the smarter we work.

Anne teaches meditation and mindfulness to business people throughout Norfolk and beyond. She specialises in relaxation and confidence coaching.

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