Ever since I was in middle school I’ve loved quotes. A good quote encapsulates so much in a short sentence, and is a powerful way to set the tone for an upcoming section. For example, in a law review article I wrote about privacy, I opened with a quote from Marlon Brando – “Privacy is not something I’m merely entitled to; it’s an absolute prerequisite.” In middle school I worked on a calligraphy project and chose a quote from St. Augustine – “I was in love with loving.” And of course, there’s Robert Frost – “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
I’ve always loved quotes. I kept a journal, not so much of my own thoughts, but of quotes I came across that resonated with me. So you can imagine my joy in seeing the social media trend of publishing well known thoughts or quotes and pairing them with moving pictures. It’s a quote-junkie’s dream!
I collected a stable of pictures with thought provoking quotes. And the reason I like them so much is because they are thought provoking. While quotes are often short, they have power; they conjure up complex ideas. Today, I thought I’d analyze the one above about the power of meditation.
Obviously, the initial suggestion to meditate for 20 minutes a day focuses on the immediate benefits of meditation. It’s something you should do every day. It will bring you peace. It calms your mind as you prepare for a busy day. But the irony, of course, is that many people say they’re too busy and don’t have 20 minutes “to just sit and do nothing.” And this is where it gets funny – if that’s your excuse, then you need to meditate for an hour!
This drives to the heart of what I want to do. We’re all busy. We’re pulled in so many different directions, between work, family, friends, and finding time for ourselves. Yet, by spending time in quiet contemplation – by unplugging, stepping away from the stressors, we create more time for ourselves. Maybe not more time, but more effective time.
In business, these opportunities to step away, to “retreat,” are times we can have the greatest insight, when our creativity flows, and we can think not just about the day-to-day tasks of running our business but we can delve into why we do things, or how we do things, or whether there’s a better way to do things. These are the times we can create a new process, a new product, or a new way of doing things. These are the times to look at a project in a new light and think “hey – why not do it this way!” It is precisely in these moments when we step away that we create the greatest opportunities for growth. These are the times to work on our business, as opposed to working in our business.
My goal is to create these opportunities. From a business perspective, creating a retreat in a special place, devoid of the usual distractions of technology, creates on opportunity for deep reflection and the opportunity to reassess how things are done, or new growth opportunities, or to refine leadership strategies to make the business run more efficiently and effectively. A key component is getting people out of their comfort zone, ideally in a physical space that allows, and even fosters, contemplation.
First we need to establish relaxation. Studies have shown that human beings crave time in nature, and that time in nature physiologically places the mind and body in a state of relaxation – a state in which the mind is more open – primed – for breakthroughs. Once we establish a state of relaxation, we can begin the real work. I will work with you to identify areas for growth within your business, and lead the group through a set of exercises to address the needs of the organization.
To bring things full circle back to the Zen Master – 20 minutes of meditation is beneficial for all. But if you’re really busy, or have a difficult problem to solve, you need more effective and focused time. That’s the time to step back – to “meditate for an hour” – to spend some time away from it all, unplugged from technology and day-to-day distractions, and to really focus on your needs and how to take things to the next level, to grow, and to thrive.
If this is something you’re interested in, reach out to me to continue the conversation. While I focused on a business case, the same theories apply to personal issues, family dynamics, a couple who needs more “quality time” together, or retirees who want to get more out of life. To me, the benefits of time in nature cannot be understated.