As a Business Owner, do you ever feel overwhelmed?
A business leader’s brain will race for many reasons. In this post, I share three techniques to get focused – and bring more ease and grace into the way you run your business.
Business owners and Entrepreneurs grapple with challenges coming at them from all sides of the business: marketing, sales, people, processes, timelines, cash flow. Juggling those demands can certainly feel overwhelming at times. And maybe you can relate to that.
I’ve been a lifelong student of many eastern and Asian philosophies, a diverse body of approaches to life which I practice on a daily basis and integrate into my own business and in my work with private clients. One of which is Buddhism.
According to Buddhist principles, the “monkey mind” is a term that refers to being unsettled, restless, confused, capricious, indecisive, or uncontrollable.
The first step to tame the monkey is to become grounded in your body and calm in your mind—that is, remember to be in the here and now.
Being present in this way is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is one method for managing all those life and business pressures, simply put, mindfulness is the practice of focusing one’s awareness on the present and acknowledging and accepting the feelings, thoughts, or bodily sensations happening in the moment as a way to calm or clarify the mind.
Our thoughts or ‘thinking mind’ can sometimes be our own worst enemy and internal saboteur. Sometimes, simply having somebody to talk out loud to about our business challenges can trigger significant shifts in our mindset.
Getting out of your head for just one hour a week could make a world of difference. That’s one of the biggest benefits of one-on-one coaching. One of the most profound gifts that a coach gives their client is being able to be present with them, hold the space and create a safe environment for the client to verbalize what they are thinking, and be seen and heard.
So back to the monkey mind. You know what I’m referring to…the mind that produces bad thoughts and negative self-talk, the “shoulds” and the “I can’ts”. Some of my clients call it spinning out, or racing mind. Feeling overwhelmed is another way it shows up.
Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour. That’s incredible. According to some research, as many as 98 percent of them are exactly the same thoughts we had the day before. Talk about creatures of habit! Even more significant, 80%of our thoughts are negative.
It is the human condition to have self-recriminating, resistant and pessimistic thoughts. They are like tapes that run in our sub-conscious and we don’t even realize it. And for some people, the mind chatter is very real and very present. And somewhat crazy-making.
Having said that, we also have the positive talk/thought stream that simultaneously runs through our minds and hearts. It’s the still, small voice inside that speaks to us continuously and if we let it, that inner wisdom that constantly speaks to us, can be our greatest guide – if we can hear it.
Here are 3 mindfulness techniques for taming the Monkey Mind, that I personally use on a daily basis, which completely shift me out of overwhelm and into being a more conscious leader, or what I like to call an Elegant Leader.
#1: Thought Stopping.
When you find your mind racing over all the things you need to get done. Stop. And ask yourself: Do I need to think about this right now?
This simple question draws your full attention to observing what is going through your mind, so you can choose your response. Instead of letting your mind run you, like being on autopilot. You are stopping the thought, and intentionally deciding how you want to proceed.
Take a moment to acknowledge and categorize your thoughts so you can consciously choose what to do with them.
Which thoughts are Functional and which are Non-functional? Functional thoughts serve a purpose, like planning an agenda. Non-functional thoughts serve no purpose and create stress, like when you replay past conversations over and over in your head, otherwise known as looping thoughts.
Awareness of the mental clutter is the first step to change.
When you find your mind spinning with uncontrollable thoughts, or when you find yourself moving from one task to the next without a break in between, or when you feel like you are always behind the eight ball. Stop. And Breathe. Take three low, slow, deep breaths from your belly. And repeat two or three times, do that frequently throughout the day.
The breath is the bridge between the mind and the body, and brings us back to a state of calm, grounding us back into our body and snapping us back into present awareness.
Breath work has been revered through the ages as potent medicine for calming the mind and body. When you consistently breathe from your belly, you actually change patterns in your nervous system and in your mind.
Abdominal breathing creates a cascade of calming effects.
#3: Body Sensations.
When you find yourself caught up in pressures and challenges of daily business life. Stop. And notice how you are in your body. Check in with where you might be holding tightness in your body, breathe into that area of your body and release it. Let it just melt away, into the earth below you.
You can bring full attention to your body’s sensations, by taking a few intentional, deep Ujjayi breaths (a yogic breathing technique), where you breathe in and out through your nose into your belly. Completely filling your lungs, while slightly contracting your throat, and breathing through your nose.
This technique can be great for releasing physical tension, it gives you a mini-mental break from your busy day and it also increase relaxation.
As you learn to still your mind with breath and body awareness practices, you’re able to be truly be present rather than caught in the warp of thoughts and world of emotions.
What would it be like for you if you opened up a sliver of space in your mind and cleared away some of those cobwebs that are preventing you from thinking and seeing clearly? Let me know with a comment.
To your success,
p.s. Listen to the audio version of this blog on my podcast: Q Your Business Success.