Mindful

I’m a business owner. I get some of my best ideas when I meditate. Should I feel bad about this?

So let me get this straight. You are responsible for a growing and active concern and have taken the time to pause, sit down, and open up your awareness to contend with the torrent of information, demands, and distractions that you face in a typical day. You carve out precious time to simply be and find some balance and equanimity to help you be more effective, less reactive, and to take better care of yourself. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. What else do you do? Do you provide generous fringe benefits and a comfortable working environment for your employees? What a shameful example you set!

What you seem to be saying is that, as a direct result of practice, you happen to notice that you are able to “think outside the box” and be creative and innovative. I’d say your completely subversive “dirty little secret” might just change the culture of your business, and if you’re not careful, could infect your employees, too!

When we engage in practice for its own sake, letting go of needing a particular outcome but knowing full well that we are doing something valuable and important for our own well-being, then we notice effects that we could have never predicted.

All kidding aside, it’s not the ideas you get that pose a potential problem, but practicing in anticipation of getting ideas. If you begin to meditate in order to have good ideas then you will be absolutely sunk, because sometimes they’ll come, and more often they won’t. And to be honest, my gut tells me that the ideas you try to have when you are meditating will not be that much different from the ones you have at other times: conventional, predictable, and repetitive. But when we engage in practice for its own sake, letting go of needing a particular outcome but knowing full well that we are doing something valuable and important for our own well-being, then we notice effects that we could have never predicted. It might be a calmer way of dealing with irate customers, a deeper appreciation for the impact of your business choices, or innovations that are game-changers. Let the practice remain simply the practice, and observe the ripples outward that result.

This question was featured in a series in the December 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.
Steve Hickman

Steve Hickman is founder and director of the University of California at San Diego Center for Mindfulness. He is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Psychiatry and Family & Preventive Medicine Departments.

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