By Zodidi Jewel Gaseb
Last week I almost quit because of exhaustion. My body and mind were operating in overdrive, a state all too familiar to many of us running a business. We strategize daily, from operation, marketing and financial opportunities to explore, as well as making your third cup of coffee to keep up with it all. Surviving a global pandemic in the midst of running a business can also be tiring.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.
Being fully present can seem redundant and slow in the fast paced world of entrepreneurship, where fast equals results. Results that pace worldwide innovation, impact communities and ultimately change the world as we know it. Such pressure we place on ourselves that we lose the bigger goal because we end up with a burnout. Unproductive, tired, overwhelmed and sometimes depressed. This was me in 2017, in a hospital bed, unable to hold a glass of water with my left hand. My neurologist placed me in a room facing a big tree and a painting of a colourful parrot on the bright blue walls. I had little to no access to my multi-businesses, good food (yes, in a hospital) and music. I slept all day and took very slow walks outside with my walking ring. Unbeknownst to me, I was practicing mindfulness. I was resting and being present to my needs. My needs to sleep, recuperate and gather my thoughts.
We can all relate to feeling overwhelmed and out of control, perhaps even doubting if we deserve the opportunities we worked so hard for. We can also relate to making questionable business choices, procrastinating on important strategies and feeling a twinge in our lower backs from sitting at the PC all day.
When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being. Mindfulness meditation and movement gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.
It begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body. Mindfulness is not a special added activity, we already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are, but we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and business, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we work with. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships. It sparks innovation which, in our fast paced world is a valuable asset as we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.
You can simply practice by taking 5 minutes out of your busy day to take deeper breaths, slow deep breaths that fill your belly and release all the tension your body holds. You may also be moved to take a walk with your favourite song playing in your ears. You could practice yoga or meditate. The list is endless. All you need to do is slow down, breathe deeply and release your mind from being full, even for a moment.