My first exposure to Eastern spirituality came from the great book Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. In this book he gives simple, practical advice for living a fulfilling and enlightened life based on lessons from spiritual gurus he studied under.
At business school, I had the opportunity to take a leadership course taught by Clinton Sidle, whose belief system is heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism and esoteric mysticism. Since then I have continued to explore the wisdom of Eastern spirituality and lessons in mindfulness, in particular.
The practice of mindfulness encourages practitioners to enhance their awareness of their minds and bodies in daily living through concentration and meditation. Today I practice this both individually and through weekly group meditation classes at the Kadampa Meditation Center of Singapore.
I believe that I have experienced many great benefits from this practice, in regulating my emotions and creating a greater availability of peace of mind. I want to share with you one particular exercise that I have developed personally in hopes that it may also help you in your pursuits in life and in business.
Through deep introspection it is possible to explore our thoughts and emotions in a way that we may not always take advantage of. Buddhism teaches us that the connection between mind, heart and body is quite singular and our thoughts and emotions tend to display themselves in our body in predictable ways. Our teeth clench when we are frustrated, our brow furrows when we are worried and we feel a tightness in the pit of our stomach when we are scared. All of these fearful emotions manifest in our bodies in such a way as to not only rob us of our confidence and ease of being, but also to close off the energy lines in our body that allow us to communicate and empathize with others in a way that is giving.
If you have ever held a role that involves sales, you know the importance of complete congruence when dealing with your client and the need to clearly communicate that you have the other persons best interest at heart and will look after them. Truth be told, trust and altruism is at the heart of all we do in business, no matter what your role. Here is a simple exercise that you can do at home to enhance your ability to create and maintain meaningful trusting relationships with the people you do business with.
First, start by getting into a comfortable and relaxed pose that will allow you to focus inwards without distraction. Ideally you will maintain a straight back and a loose abdomen and most importantly you will breathe easily and naturally. Take a few moments to sink into your chosen position until you are completely relaxed and at ease. Clear your mind and focus on the sensation of your breath as it enters and exits your nostrils.
Once you have achieved a state of comfortable focus and relaxation, think about someone with whom you are currently concerned. This person could be your boss, or a client or prospect, a coworker or partner. Allow the image of this individual to come into your mind and breathe in deeply as you take your memory of their energy into you. Consider your recent interactions, conversations, times you have shared space. Think about how you met and what you know of this individual. You may be surprised by how many details come to mind. We rarely have the opportunity to observe people when interacting with them for fear of making them uncomfortable, but in retrospect you may find yourself noticing habits and traits that you had not previously considered, particularly if the demands of your life require you to manage many relationships continuously.
As you allow your mind to explore this person, begin to notice what is happening in your body. Do you feel yourself tightening up, almost as if to squeeze and contain this person? Do you feel an uneasiness entering your body, as though this person’s presence may give you cause to flee? Notice how your breath and posture changes and where you feel tightness in your muscles. Perhaps you feel yourself being lulled into a feeling of sleepiness at the thought of this individual, representing what may be an inappropriate level of dependence.
Continue to explore this individual and take note of the feelings expressed in your body until you are able to hold the thought of this person gently before you without the state of relaxation and focus you had earlier achieved being disturbed. Hold them in front of you as you would a flower that you may tilt to look better upon its petals or get a whiff of its perfume; neither tightly nor fearfully.
It is from this state of relaxed concentration that you will be able to offer this individual the very best of you, and in your next interaction with this person you will be able to call upon this state of being when exchanging energy with them. You may go use this exercise at any time and it will get easier with practice. The results can be quite powerful and I hope you will try it for yourself.