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Most entrepreneurs understand the importance of demonstrating confidence, leadership and patience in their role. They know the elements of good decision-making and are seasoned experts when it comes to time management.
But there’s a less frequently discussed tool that entrepreneurs can use to improve their performance in almost every area that counts: mindfulness meditation.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness refers to a state of consciousness defined by awareness of the present moment. When you’re mindful, you’re not distracted by anxieties about the past or worries about the future. Your internal dialogue isn’t chattering away — you’re simply tuned to the present, with no other distractions.
Mindfulness meditation is by extension a practice designed to help you achieve mindfulness consistently. There are multitudes of different styles and practices to consider, but most of them follow a similar formula: You find something to focus on, and hold your focus on this locus of attention. When a distracting thought enters your mind, you simply acknowledge it, accept it and let it go without judgment or further consideration.
For some people, this can look like breathing in for 10 counts followed by a breath out 10 counts. Others prefer to focus on a mantra or on something visual, like a flickering candle flame. Whatever the case, mindfulness meditation is very easy to learn. Any amateur can get started with the fundamentals, but if you’re looking for more in-depth coverage, there’s no shortage of online courses to help you master the basics. So why should you practice mindfulness meditation as an entrepreneur? Here are some of the benefits:
The most commonly touted benefit of mindfulness meditation is its ability to reduce stress. If you’re under a lot of pressure or have a lot of work on your plate, you can take a few minutes to practice mindfulness. When you’re finished, you’ll likely feel more in control and less negatively affected by your environment.
Reduced heart rate and susceptibility to heart disease
Roughly 655,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. Heart disease remains one of the top causes of death in the United States, and it’s even higher for stressful positions like entrepreneurship. Mindfulness meditation may improve your heart health, and regular practice can reduce your heart rate to help you live a healthier, low-stress lifestyle that supports lower rates of heart disease.
Did you know mindfulness meditation can boost your productivity? Clearing your mind of distractions makes it easier for you to focus on the task at hand. Your mind won’t be chattering with restless thoughts, nor will you feel pulled in many directions at once. Instead, you can invest your time and attention into what matters most.
One of the most important roles an entrepreneur embodies is that of a chief decision maker. It’s your responsibility to make the choices that will guide your business to success. Mindfulness meditation equips you with better tools and a better mentality for these decisions. Not only will you get rid of distractions that could interfere with your thought process, you’ll also distill your emotions so you’re less prone to impulsive acts.
Patience and emotional intelligence
Even a few minutes of mindfulness meditation can help you cultivate patience and sharpen your emotional intelligence. When you’re at your limit, mindfulness helps you slow down and get perspective on the situation. It can also help you reflect and better empathize with others.
Sleep deprivation can turn even the most intelligent, productive and capable entrepreneurs into unproductive, depressed shadows of their former selves. The real tragedy is that many entrepreneurs push themselves so hard they find it hard to get the sleep they need;. Oftentimes entrepreneurs are too distracted, stressed and overworked to rest effectively. Mindfulness meditation, especially right before bed, can make it much easier to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.
Getting started with mindfulness meditation
You don’t need to attend hours of classes or overhaul your lifestyle to practice mindfulness. Instead, you can get started with just 10 minutes a day – or even less. Spending a few minutes to center your mind and let go of distracting thoughts can help you achieve the numerous benefits. If you’re consistent with it, you’ll gradually be able to meditate for longer and see even more advantanges.
Everything starts with a single practice session. If every entrepreneur was committed to mindfulness meditation, we’d see a lot more patience, confident decision-making and teambuilding from the top down.
Originally appeared in Entrepreneur