Mindful Marketing Part II: It Starts with Headspace
Or, Meditation Isn’t Just For Hippies
(This is Part II, here is Part I)
A short list of topics that when discussed constantly by other people annoy me: Crossfit, travel woes, yoga, vegetarianism, motorcycles, and meditation.
Not sure the reason, although a betting therapist would say it is an intrinsic jealousy with a tinge of anxiety that I don’t find my body or my brain healthy enough and have aspirations for what annoys me. Truthfully, I simply think that I don’t like people talking about those topics.
Yet, since February, I find myself every morning doing the last thing on that list, meditation. And now I’m talking about it…next thing you know I’ll be chanting Namaste at you while eating my tofu burger. One thing I won’t do, ever, is Crossfit. So no worries.
Meditation as a practice is actually a fairly simple concept. It’s an exercise to train your mind in order to have a fuller since of conciousness, or mindfulness, for a variety of reasons. Some practice meditation as a way to relax or focus on a task at hand. Others see it as a tenant of a larger religious doctrine helping them to get closer to the sense of a deity. In my world it is very simple, I meditate to begin to understand the choices I make and the thoughts I have, in order to live a better and fuller life in and out of my work.
Nobody Mentions The Pain
Peace and love, man. Peace and love! Or so I thought when I started this initial foray into the world of meditation. This was going to be so simple. Ten minutes in the morning to get me started. Basically ten minutes to keep my eyes closed and just chill out a bit before starting the rigors of the normal day. No wonder the hippies love this shit!
As the first day started I realized I could not have been more wrong. First of all the act of simply sitting still without any other interaction was physically painful. My body would cramp, back spasming, and I’d get itchy all of a sudden for no apparent reason. My skin felt like a thousand gnats had descended upon it, yet I HAD to focus on my meditation because I was going to FIND SOME INNER FUCKING PEACE! Funny thing, when your body is fighting back against you, letting it rest plays some awful tricks with your brain.
My mind, rather than being calm, was a storm of thoughts and emotions. Memories from the night prior, or decades before, would just pop into my head for no apparent reason. Electricity seemingly coursed through my lobes, like a car battery being jumped every second. The guide in my lessons would attempt to bring me back, but I was traveling further and further away, yet every single noise around me felt like it was literally next to my ears (including that damn fish tank two rooms over).
That first week I felt like a complete failure…I mean who can’t sit still with their own thoughts for ten minutes and focus on training their brain? After each session I felt shame, then anxiety, then simply dissapointment in myself. Maybe my brain was simply not evolved enough to meditate, maybe I should try Crossfit. NO! Push through.
Traditionally, like many other activities started, this would have lasted 3–5 days and then forgotten. But not this time, this time was different, mainly because a quest was on my radar to better understand not only myself, but the work that I do and what I might want to do in the future.
A Journey Is Always Two-Fold
Life doesn’t happen. Life is created. We choose each day and how it will enfold, it’s a question of whether you are aware of those choices or not as they happen.
My life perception has always been founded on that truth, yet I knew my mind was never trained enough to be fully mindful. At the same time I was your stereotypical guy who had just turned 40, was having one of the most painful professional periods of my career, and was expecting my family life to dramatically shift in a few short months. Rather than believing I was in charge, self-pity took over and it was all about blaming other factors rather than choosing to make decisions, often painful, to control my life.
Thus the pain of those early days of meditation, although sparked anxiety, didn’t ultimately force me to quit. This was a journey for me because very important decisions had to be made, and soon, and doing it the same way as I had the previous 40 years simply wasn’t acceptable.
Now, believe me when I say this, it became so much better in only a few days of meditation. Is every session perfect? No! But I’ve learned why some days don’t go well (even to the point where some foods I have the night before can effect my practice) and some days do (having water first has helped me a great deal). Perhaps we can spend some time on the actual practice of meditation in a few weeks, but for now the focus here is on the blend of meditation and marketing in order to progress towards mindful marketing.
That brings up the important question: What does meditation have to do with marketing? Everything.
Let’s think about what marketing truly is; the ability to persuade someone else to spend their own resources, whether that be time or money, on something you provide. On both sides of that equation is mindfulness, and meditation allows me to harness this skill, allowing me to not only understand the choices, thoughts, and emotions in my own brain, but also my customer’s.
Personally, within a month of my exercises I had made some of those professional decisions, most notably exiting from my latest startup and committing to taking some time off to bring a renewed focus on my family and my career. Yet, these actions, like all decisions, bring with them future questions and decisions to be made. Meditation continued to help me through March and April as I had to make decisions on whether to take new job offers, potentially move our family for opportunities, or perhaps start my own business.
More on that next week (that’s called a tease! BOOM!).
In the meantime, if you are willing, check out the Headspace app for iOS and Android. There are other similar options, this was the one introduced to me by a trusted mentor. If you have another resource leave us a note!