Meditation for Business Optimization
Meditation is a big topic. You probably hear people talk about it a lot, and either you think they are crazy, or you think, “Okay, I get this.” I, too, talk about meditation quite a bit in social media, but I’d like to address a few things that I often hear entrepreneurs say to me:
1. I don’t understand why this impacts me in business.
2. I don’t really know how to do it because I’ve tried, and it just doesn’t work for me.
Why Meditation; The importance of Alpha Brainwave State
Meditation is an important skill because it is them most effective way we know to deliberately achieve an Alpha brainwave state. What is Alpha brainwave state? To get technical, brainwaves are rhythmic fluctuations of voltage between parts of the brain resulting in the flow of an electric current. Passing bits of information in the form of waves is how your brain “thinks,” both the thoughts of which you are consciously aware and those you are not. Depending on your physical state, the amplitude and frequency of those waves changes, you can think of it as a speed. Alpha brainwaves, then, are simply a specific speed at which your brain sometimes functions.
Most of the time, during your waking hours, you are in Beta mode, but it is during the Alpha brainwave state that your brain is most creative. You feel it when you are very relaxed, such as when you are starting to fall asleep or when you first wake up. Your conscious mind is less active; you are not necessarily thinking about something specific. This state allows your more limitless and creative subconscious mind to dominate. This is why you get so many great ideas in the shower.
In business, you want to be able to put yourself in this Alpha brainwave state because that’s when you can find solutions to problems that you would not have necessarily thought about when you’re racking your brain. The trick is learning to control your mind and calm yourself down. This also becomes very useful when you’re in a heated discussion with a colleague, or when you’re in a very stressful negotiation over sales, for example.
Again, the best way to get into an Alpha brainwave state is through meditation and, the more you practice meditation, the more you will be able to deliberately achieve Alpha state whenever you need to do so, which in startup life can be quite often!
How to Meditate
How to meditate is really an individual endeavor. You will find all kinds of methods online, and I suggest that you actually look at those if you’re new in meditation. For example, some people meditate with their eyes open, and some people meditate with their eyes closed. Some use white noise in the background, some listen to music, and some use guided meditations with verbal prompts. There’s no right or wrong way. The only right way is the way that works for you
If you’ve already tried all the google searches and failed, stick with it! What works well for others, may not work for you at all. It took me days to learn, and nearly a year to get good at it. I’m still practicing and, when I skip days (always for good reasons – eyeroll), I notice a significant deterioration in my ability to resolve problems and stay focused, calm and centered throughout the day.
How will you know when you have achieved Alpha state? It’s a frustrating reply, but the true answer is, you will just know, but at first, you may not know until after you return to Beta. That’s because, in Alpha state, your mind is blank; you aren’t thinking about anything in particular; it is like you are in a trance. Then, suddenly, you will become aware again, usually because you get an idea, and your brain jumps back into thinking mode.
The bottom line is, you will need to commit to taking the time to experiment with different methods until you find one that works for you. Once you find it, you’ll have to practice, like every other skill you hope to improve.
My Meditation Journey; Not That Easy
What worked for me, finally, is this. I would take the biggest breath I possibly could, let it out slowly, and just count. I would try to see how long I could count before running out of breath. Naturally, the more slowly I released the air, the higher I could count. I wasn’t trying to meditate. I was just trying to play this game with myself, and eventually, it clicked, and I fell into Alpha state. I could feel it. After a while, I got good at it.
First, I’d do this for a couple of minutes, and then a little bit longer, and eventually I didn’t have to do the counting exercise anymore. I got used to the feeling of being in the meditative state and now can go there almost immediately. It’s just like going to the free-throw line if you’re a basketball player. The first few times you do it, you really have to think, you’re calculating the angles, how to hold the ball, and the amount of thrust needed. Eventually, you get the feel of it, so you don’t have to think about it anymore. This is true for any skill. So, if one method doesn’t work for you, the first time, don’t stop; give it another try before you move onto something else.
I encourage you to just keep trying different things until you figure out what works for you. You will know when you’re in that meditative state – it feels incredible…so just keep going.
Do This Today
Module 00 of the Valid Startup program, which we will be using for the ATO Ventures incubator, is all about Mindset and setting yourself up for startup success. You can find a video about this in my IGTV Series: Valid Startup.
Your task for today is to commit to learning how to meditate. Set aside a time each day to explore and practice, even if it is just 10 to 15 minutes. I promise it will make you a much more effective entrepreneur.