Up-Leveling Your Career with a Meditation Practice

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By Corene Summers, originally seen on the Inspiruption.

I recently took some time to reflect on the things I have accomplished in my business, compared to the goals I had set out for myself at different points along the way, and I was astonished -- ok really pumped… and threw myself a solo dance party -- when I realized how many of them I had achieved. The pit-stops and various destinations were more fulfilling than I could have imagined; and what were once struggles of personal growth are now part of the fun. Sure, I don’t always achieve in the exact way I envision it happening, but the journey has been incredible, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Yes, it seems glorious, but in truth, entrepreneurship is incredibly hard work, and regardless of the industry you’re in, it can be very stressful - even us health and wellness practitioners feel it! But, it’s in how we overcome it, or at least learn to manage it, that keeps us calm and focused to keep moving forward. For me, I’m lucky that my business is learning and teaching the best tools available to not just help myself while I continue to grow my business, but help others in their lives as well.

MY JOURNEY OF STRESSED AND STRUGGLING TO HEALTHY AND HAPPY

Before my life as a meditation instructor and wellness coach, I spent a decade in Wealth Management working for large financial services firms across the United States. It was a life dictated by long hours, pressure to succeed, and high-stress decision-making. I remember looking around at the stress-worn faces of my hard-working and beloved colleagues one afternoon, and it hit me that they all felt miserable, drained, and were struggling.  The grind of our modern corporate world had taken its toll on all of us.

In 2011 - 2012, I took a 4-month solo backpacking trip to Nepal, Tibet and India, and it changed everything - my perspective on life, my chosen career path, and ultimately who I was as a person. There was no doubt in my mind that my life path was to become a wellness teacher and coach.  

(Editor’s note: For more on her journey, click here.)

I was captivated by the wholesome, practical and real-life approaches to wellness I encountered in my global travels and studies of meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques), yoga, and Ayurveda (India’s holistic medical system).  I loved that these ancient practices and tools for well-being recognized me for the depth of my humanity and as a unique individual whose physical and emotional needs may change from day-to-day, and I felt healthier and happier than I had at any other point in my life. My body felt strong, and my mind was clear and steady.  It was empowering to discover that there were other options for living, and even thriving.

When I came home and took these newly developed skills back to my professional career, I was amazed at how significantly they impacted my ability to focus, achieve, remain calm, navigate difficult conversations in the workplace, handle daily challenges with ease, and stay energized throughout the day. I had become a machine.

A growing body of research supports that these time-tested techniques can help you let go of outside stressors and find balance in moments of high-stress and anxiety, making them the ideal solution to the inherent burdens of a fast-paced and high-performing life and career.

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OVER-STIMULATED MINDS IN AN OVER-STIMULATED WORLD

Because we are so over-stimulated as a society, most people have a very difficult time relaxing and concentrating, therefore sitting in silent meditation can be a near impossible task, at first, as it requires both. Concentration requires focusing your awareness on one singular point, exclusive of all other thoughts or topics. Since our minds are accustomed to continuously wandering and shifting from topic to topic – a condition commonly referred to as “monkey brain” in India – it can be quite a challenge to achieve continuous selective focus. The first step is to learn how to relax and allow the mind to slow down and enter deeper states of relaxation until “concentration becomes the spontaneous activity of consciousness” (Yoga and Kriya).

It is during these periods of deep relaxation and concentration that we begin to understand and connect with the deeper aspects of ourselves. When we understand our inner workings at this level, we are able to more consciously create unity between our thoughts and our actions. Our abilities to focus, dream, and create are sharpened, and we are able to reach higher levels of productivity and achievement. I like to call this our ‘state of flow’ - when you are able to flow easily and confidently through all the things you need to do, remaining calm amidst any chaos - even handling your challenges with a sense of harmony.

Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing practices are the perfect methods to relax, as well as build your focus and resilience, bringing you to this high-performing state of flow more often. But, like any other healthy habit, you have to START, and then put it into practice every day.

This consistent practice will absolutely show the results of a more relaxed state and improved focus no matter how unsettled it may make you feel at first. But, you have to remember to be easy on yourself. If you’re a beginner, I usually recommend spending 10 minutes per day (which can be separated into two 5-minute periods) meditating, concentrating on your breathing, or repeating an affirmation.

Here are a few simple techniques you can try on your own at home, at the office or on-the-go:

  1. Spend a few minutes taking rounds of really deep breaths, breathing in and out through the nose. Keep your belly soft and let it inflate, fully, on the inhale like a big balloon, and then deflate fully on the exhale as you pull your belly button back towards your spine. Then try a few with open-mouth exhales. You could also place your hands on your abdomen to help you stay focused on breathing deeply through the belly.

  2. Count the length of your inhales and exhales for a few minutes, beginning with a count of 3-4, working your way up to 8-10. Try to keep your inhales and exhales the same length. Stay fully absorbed in counting and drawing out the breath longer and deeper with each breath.

  3. Watch the clouds out of your window for a few minutes, focusing intently on them. Don’t think about anything else except the clouds. Note their shape and size, the way they transform, the color of the sky, etc. You could also use trees or any other element in nature to try this with.

  4. Try one of the meditation and breathing techniques on my site, Artisan Farmacy.

  5. I am also currently teaching live meditation classes on Meditation.LIVE App, available in the Apple and Google App Stores.