Most people would agree that starting your own business is difficult. Many would even say terrifying - but nearly everybody I’ve asked (who has actually done it) said ‘it’s the best decision they ever made’ and that they’ve ‘never looked back’.
So there must be something good about it.
The main benefits I’ve found are:
- Being able to manage my own routine
- Work when I’m motivated and relax when I’m not
- Work wherever I like; at home, in a cafe, on a train or in a co-working space
But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. The pressure and responsibility are far beyond what I experienced as a creative director of a design agency.
I’m now a designer, project manager, account manager, operations manager, salesman and receptionist all rolled into one - That’s a lot to juggle.
Which brings me back to the title - ‘Learning to breathe’.
It’s both figurative and literal. But bear with me, it should all start to make sense.
There’s a lot of talk in self-help/personal development circles about meditation and its benefits. It’s even backed up by modern neuroscience - but whenever I talk to people about it, hardly anybody has a regular practice.
Most people give the same reasons.
- I don’t know how
- I’d feel silly doing it
- I’ve tried and it didn’t work
- I simply don’t have the spare time
Believe me, I understand all of these... I’ve used most of them in the past.
But now, more than ever, meditation can have a huge impact on improving peoples lives - on many levels.
We’re busier than ever before, there’s a constant demand for our attention and it feels like everything is in constant motion, which leads to people suffering from:
- High levels of stress
- Anxiety and depression
- Increased pressure and fatigue
But what if there was a tool to help escape all these?
What if it was FREE and allowed you to become more part of the present moment?
Once you begin to understand meditation, you will realise that you can control not only your feelings and emtions, but how you live your life.
The vast majority of people will never reach this state of awareness, but only because they don’t try... Sometimes the simple solution really is the best.
Types of meditation
There are dozens of different types of meditation (a quick search on Wikipedia will highlight this), but I think most people end up adapting one (or several) of these and finding their own path.
Personally, I started by simply following the breath - I didn’t even know the name for it. A couple of YouTube videos and I was away.
All I do is sit cross-legged on a cushion, try to maintain good posture, close my eyes ... and simply BREATHE.
Thoughts come and go; I observe, but don’t indulge them.
I just let them pass like clouds and return to focusing on my breath.
Recently though, I came across a new ‘style’ of meditation which has changed the game for me.
It allows me combine the practice with exercise, and get double the benefits from the same time investment.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t invent this, but it could be a new perspective.
It’s simply swimming, albeit a slightly different variation from what most people know.
Total Immersion Swimming
I heard about this through Tim Ferris... He's always looking for ways to bio-hack or to improve efficiency in all areas of life, and this really struck a chord with me. Just watch the smooth flowing technique of this guy...
Being fully immersed, the focus in purely on form and breathing.
As a beginner, there’s no way I can think of anything else.
If my mind wanders from breathing for even a few seconds, I quickly find myself taking in a lungful of water splashing like a toddler in arm-bands.
After only a few weeks of practice though, I’m starting to make some progress. I can do several lengths back to back, and am beginning to feel more like I’m gliding through the water.
From the side of the pool I probably still look like a cat at bath time, but in my mind, I’m at peace and am flowing.
For now, that’s good enough - The journey is long, and every length teaches me something new.
- This practice isn’t about completion.
- I’m not getting a ‘beach body’ for summer.
- I don’t plan to swim the channel or anything like that.
I simply want a routine where I can combine both physical and mental wellbeing, whilst learning a new skill at the same time - You never know where that will lead.
It’s a good analogy for business actually.
- Concentrate fully
- Focus on technique
- Learn from more experienced people
So, I’ve taken the plunge... Only time will tell if I sink or swim.
PS. I’d love to know how you handle stress. Do you have a mediation practice? Have you tried in the past and not managed to form the habit? Or do you do something else?
Comment below or send me an email, let’s share stories and encourage each other.