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When’s the last time you really took a break? I’m not talking about that family trip where you’re coordinating travel plans, ironing out budgets and squeezing in as many activities as possible.
Are these trips usually worth it? Absolutely!
But are they actually relaxing? I know I usually need a vacation after the vacation . . .
The truth is, our minds and bodies crave rest and rejuvenation. If everyday life stresses us out—and even vacation time comes with some stress—when can we find the space to actually relax?
While we might all have our own favorites strategies, mine has been to completely disconnect and go inside of myself for up to a week at a time.
Stop! Don’t close your browser just yet. I realize the idea of completely disconnecting can seem like a daunting idea to many. However, I’ve learned that it’s helped me become a better leader at my company and a better person to everyone in my life.
I understand why people can be intimidated at the thought of attending a meditation retreat. I too was nervous and anxious—my mind filled with preconceived notions. My younger self would have never predicted meditation would later become such a huge part of my life.
After all, what busy business owner wouldn’t think, “How could taking time out of my day to “do nothing” be so beneficial?”
Ironically, it took hitting a breaking point while on one of those “relaxing” vacations to realize something had to change. While my wife and kids were enjoying the Northern Michigan outdoors, I stayed inside to work. I had recently sold my company, imageOne, and was still working for the acquiring company. The experience had me stressed out and on the verge of tears.
That’s when I looked over to a chair in the corner of the room and told myself, “Go sit in that chair and breathe in and breathe out for five minutes.”
So I did—and I actually felt better.
My stress didn’t vanish. My problems didn’t disappear. But still, I felt an undeniable sense of clarity and calmness. I didn’t know it yet, but I had just dipped my toes into mindfulness and meditation for the first time.
Over the next few years, I learned everything I could about the scientific research backing up my own meditation experiences and immersed myself within the practice.
Soon, I began noticing more than just positive mental changes. I also saw a significant improvement in my personal and professional life. I felt increasingly present in every relationship and even found a better work-life balance.
Everything from my daily productivity to my decision-making skills improved. Most importantly, I was showing up as a more patient, kind person while learning to notice that critical moment between stimulus and response.
That’s when it hit me. It took some time, but meditation practice was actually helping me become a better person.
The Benefits of Getting Away
While studying meditation, I learned about the benefits of taking a silent retreat. Soon, I was ready to embark on one myself.
Like most people, the thought of fully disconnecting from the outside world was pretty scary. However, it was a challenge I was ready to take—and it was more impactful than I could have imagined.
At my first retreat, I began understanding why getting away to focus on mindfulness was worthwhile. Retreats are a gift to ourselves with the devoted time, focus and attention often needed but rarely received. Without constant stimuli, our minds have the opportunity to relax and reveal hidden spaces usually clogged by unnecessary filler.
By pressing pause, our minds finally get to breathe.
Often, we’re too busy to dedicate sufficient time to practice mindful skills, and retreats provide this focused landscape. After all, it’s called a meditation practice for a reason.
Just like professional basketball players constantly work on their free throws, piano players on their musical skills, or golfers on their swing, practicing daily meditation and attending silent retreats help us discover, as author Victor Frankl says, that “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
Lastly, retreats reinvigorate our passion for the practice. To use a business analogy, it’s similar to attending conferences specific to our industry or interests. By connecting with like-minded people, learning more about what you love and immersing yourself in the craft, we usually leave more dedicated than ever.
To date, I’ve attended nine retreats. Each time, I return home feeling recharged with a clearer mind. As strange as it may sound, my brain literally feels lighter.
The time away provides me with a sense of mental clarity, concentration and focus that no other “vacation” ever could.
Igniting Your New Meditation Practice
Ready to explore what mediation can do for you? From great apps like Meditation Studio, Headspace, and Calm to in-person classes at studios like MNDFL and Ziva Meditation to incredible organizations at locations like The Shambhala Mountain Center, 1440 Multiuniversity, Insight Meditation Society, Omega and Spirit Rock, there’s a place for everyone in the world of mindfulness.
Or, if you’re ready to take on your biggest leadership challenge yet, why not jump in feet first and join a mindfulness retreat? Whether it’s at my own donothing Leadership Retreat in Colorado—or one of the other amazing retreats located worldwide—I promise the investment made will reward you, your family and your business, for a lifetime.
Connect with me, Rob Dubé, on Twitter and LinkedIn and keep up with my company imageOne. If you have any questions about meditation, mindfulness, retreats or anything else, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Learn more about my mission to show business leaders how mindfulness can transform them and their businesses in my book donothing. Also, don’t miss my weekly donothing podcast where I interview different inspiring leaders every week. Visit www.donothingbook.com for more information.
July 1, 2019 at 08:00AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs