I recently learned a new acronym from one of my younger friends: GTI. What sounds like a variety of physical ailment actually stands for “going through it,” or facing a particular stressful or overwhelming time.
Part of adulthood is navigating the peaks and valleys of everyday life, and knowing how to recalibrate ourselves after a period of time during which we’re “GTI.” For many entrepreneurs these days, myself included, one solution for creating balance has been instituting a mental health regimen centered on the art of meditation.
Much has been written on the benefits of meditation – how to do it, when to do it and why to do it. Similar to physical exercise, creating your own mental health program is a personal experience that should be customized based on personality and lifestyle. What works for me is twice a day Transcendental (Vedic) Meditation, which I have been practicing for the past four years. In this article, I share my personal journey and offer insight into what you can expect once you make room for meditation in your life.
Table your skepticism and try before you buy
Interest in meditation has reached a fever pitch. Search the app store or even YouTube and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of programs. Everywhere you look, business leaders and artists are pointing to daily meditation as a “secret” to their success. There are even weeklong meditation retreats designed for entrepreneurs and business people. Somewhere, George Harrison might be smiling down, wondering what took us so long.
But with any trend, it’s easy to assume some sort of delta between the reality and the hype. And is the case with fitness programs – which have enjoyed heightened popularity in the past few years – the key is finding a method that works for you. For those looking to incorporate meditation into their lives, remember that gathering information from friends and outside resources is great, but ultimately, what works for someone else might not have the same benefits for you.
My advice for newbies: Try a few programs before diving in fully. There are several ways to learn the basic principles, including courses, teachers, seminars and books designed to help you navigate the different kinds of mediation from Mindfulness, to Transcendental to Vedic. There are also Medi Club meetup’s happening and Big Quiets being organized that present you with an opportunity learn and connect with like-minded individuals and well-respected teachers.
Take advantage of your newfound focus
When I began meditating in 2012, I simply thought of it as a way to manage my stress and create balance in my frenetic lifestyle, which involved hustling to get my music company off the ground during the day and hopping around shows and concerts at night. I was burnt out, and I was simply looking for a little relief. The actual effect that meditation had was much more than that. It changed my life.
One mischaracterization of meditation is that meditating will somehow transplant “answers” into your brain, as if magically, and out of thin air. While some people might experience epiphanies in a meditative state, I have found that my newfound clarity has opened my mind to new ideas and opportunities. In other words, meditation has functioned as a mental “defroster,” clearing my view so I can isolate my true passions and priorities.
Here’s an example: Before I began meditating, I was working my tail off as CEO of a talent booking agency that I had founded with my brother Alex. We had some early success out the gate, pairing top artists and managers with promoters and producers, but something was missing. I wasn’t loving it anymore, but I didn’t know why.
Compounding my unease was the fact that I was constantly stressed out. My confidence down and I was even developing a twitch in my eye. I tried self-medicating with exercise, twice or sometimes three times a day, but this did little beyond wiping me out physically. At one point I confided in a close friend, who recommended I try meditation.
Once I began meditating, aspects of my life – especially my career – came into focus. I realized that what I loved about my company was the creativity that surrounded brokering talent partnerships, and not the transactions themselves. Over months and months of meditation, I developed a new business plan and pivoted the company toward one more aligned with my interests and the direction of the market.
In short, the meditation did not “plant” this idea in my brain. Rather, it empowered me to arrive at the decision for myself. It’s not about what you see when your eyes are closed; it’s about how you feel and react the rest of the day.
Watch your leadership skills flourish
In addition to clarifying the new path for my company, meditation also made me a better people-manager. We’ve all read articles on the importance of emotional intelligence, or “EQ.” Some business journals even cite that EQ is just as if not more important than IQ when it comes to successful leadership.
The first true test of my new leadership skills emerged when it came to enlisting my team’s support in taking the plunge and pivoting the nature of our business. I needed to be confident, and make a strong and clear case for the shift. I also needed to deal with the stress inherent in telling a team of people that thing we had been doing for years – and doing so quite successfully – would be going away in favor of a new, unproven thing. From there it has been a process of enlisting the industry, too, and helping them each understand the pivot.
Without meditation, I am certain these conversations would not have gone very well. Yet, with a clear vision, I was able to stand tall in front of my points while also exuding the confidence needed to stop talking and listen to the opinions and ideas of others in a tempered and respectful manner.
Not everyone’s meditation journey will be the same as mine. You will have doubts at the beginning, and like any new habit, you will need to put in the honest work to see results. After all, there’s a reason people flock to gyms the first few weeks of a new year and then fall off: starting a new habit is hard.
But if you stick to it, the dust will rise off the light bulbs in your brain and you will experience unprecedented clarity in your professional and personal life. Meditation is no panacea for the everyday stressors of living in the “digital” age, but coupled with proper sleep, nutrition, exercise and the like, it can become core to your general heath routine and a competitive differentiator for your business.
By Jesse Kirshbaum — Originally published on AlleyWatch
For over a decade, Jesse Kirshbaum has been in the trenches of the music business, specializing in securing talent for concerts, tours and endorsement deals for his various clients and brand partners internationally. He founded NUE (a creative music agency, recently named to Inc Mag’s 5000 list as the 3rd fastest growing Media Company in America) to sit at the center of music, brands and technology. He sits on the Global Advisory Board of Social Media Week and Digital Music Wire as well as various private companies and shares a dynamic enthusiasm and passion for shaping the new music business.