I was surprised to see in a recent TIME article that 477 scientific journal articles about mindfulness were published in 2012. This is a leading indicator of just how rampant mindfulness has become as a concept in society as people try to focus or concentrate but are continually distracted by technologies such as smart phones, tablet computers, laptops emails and social media. The article in Time declares that there is a “Mindful Revolution” and that mindfulness has gone mainstream.
How can you as a small business owner take advantage of this trend in mindfulness? What products or services do you have that you could tie into this new trend? How can you take advantage of the opportunities that this new wave presents?
Ex-Buddhist monks are selling apps for the iPhone on mindfulness. Corporate HR managers have left their employers to go out and run courses to companies on mindfulness. One company in the United States, General Mills, has installed a meditation room in every building on the company’s Minneapolis campus. I even came across an article in one local coastal paper where an astrologer was renting out rooms in her house as a spiritual retreat where paying guests could practice their mindfulness.
There may be an opportunity here for any small business that makes things like sweet scented candles, bath oils, yoga mats, books on mindfulness, courses on mindfulness and even positioning your bed-and-breakfast or get-away self-catering outfit as a mindfulness retreat. The possibilities are endless – but of course you must provide a product or service that is sincere, honest and authentic otherwise you won’t be able to attract the right profile of customers.
The practice of mindfulness usually starts with meditation where quietening of the mind is encouraged. This is really just a way to get you to slow down, switch off and get in touch with your mind body and soul. Some scientific studies show that the practice of meditation on mindfulness can lead to improved health and happiness. Once you have made your personal breakthrough of being able to meditate, you can then become much more aware of your own actions such as eating, walking and working and the actions of other people.
The route to cutting away from a hectic schedule for many years involves activities like walking, jogging, swimming and even angling (although this is not as safe as it used to be and it’s best to not go angling by yourself but with a partner or in a small group). These activities help you to break away, change gears and relax or calm your mind. Meditation is therefore not the only route to achieve calming of the mind or mindfulness.
The discussion about mindfulness often leaves out a very key ingredient. This is daily engagement with the world. You get in your car, drive down the road and a taxi cuts in front of you. How’s that going to change your state of mind? You get to work at your business and one of your staff hasn’t rocked up and now what do you do about that important order you were going to finish for your customer? An important meeting that you arranged with a customer is suddenly cancelled and now you’ve got a scramble for a new lead.
On a simple but sophisticated level mindfulness or meditation can involve everything you do. From pouring a cup of tea or coffee, to completing your monthly or weekly administration that you almost have to force yourself to do because it’s boring. An awareness of what you are doing in the present heightens your experience but it also increases your engagement with other people and increases your productivity.
Where mindfulness really counts is in the act of creation. The best or most optimum state of mind to be in when coming up with new ideas or doing personal brainstorming is to be in a relaxed, resourceful and even mildly happy state. It’s possible to go into a quiet contemplative state without meditation. Just sit quietly and do some thinking time.
A more advanced approach is to practice what is called “theatre of the mind” where after some practice you can sit quietly and run movies through your mind of past circumstances and events in your life and visualise what you may want to achieve in the future. You may not necessarily come up with any new idea then but it may plant a seed in your unconscious. It also pays to hold this “creative tension”, which Robert Fritz describes in his book “The Path of Least Resistance”. This structural tension, as he calls it, is formed by two major components: a vision of the result you want to create and a clear view of the reality you now have. The tension between these two seeks a resolution. “Creators have a higher ability to tolerate discrepancy than most others.… Tension strives for resolution. This structural tendency of a stretched rubber band is to relax, or resolve the tension. You as a creator, establish tension, use tension, play with tension, orchestrate tension, and resolve tension in the direction you choose.”
Whatever process you use to ease the tension or distractions in your life, remember that the new wave of mindfulness holds opportunities for those who make themselves fully mindful of how they could tailor their products or services to take better advantage of this mainstream mindful revolution.