Entrepreneurs can be notorious for not having the right degree of focus or giving the right amount of attention to detail…it’s part of the game unfortunately and something that I believe is part of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Perhaps one of my biggest weaknesses over the years was my ability to focus intently and one of the reasons why I took up martial arts, apart from the physical aspects, was to try to develop the mind and my ability to maintain a focus on what I was doing.
This article is about being able to take ten minutes of your time to remove the tension from your body and to “quiet your mind” — the 10-minute meditation is just that, and sometimes you will only need a couple of minutes and others a little more.
If you feel stressed, anxious or you suffer from a lack of sleep, then this simple technique will work wonders for you.
Be warned…it’s a little counter-intuitive as you will be standing still and literally allowing the natural forces of “lift” and gravity to realign and reset your body, which is the gateway to relaxing your mind.
You can use elements of the technique at any time throughout the day, such as dropping your sternum, to relax your shoulders, or re-aligning your pelvis and hips to remove tension from your legs.
And, the exercises require no equipment or more than a space to comfortably stand in!
I believe “meditation” is a word that has been misunderstood and that has led to some confusion as to exactly what it is, which I will discuss later.
I must advise you to make sure you check with your doctor or primary-care physician before you embark on this or any exercise program. Please also remember that if you do follow what I prescribe here, that you do so at your own risk!
What Is Meditation
When I first heard about the term “meditation,” my mind was instantly transported to some far-Eastern location, with gurus who were dressed in robes and sitting cross-legged either in silence or chanting some repetitive mantra, designed to “center” the mind.
Take a look at this article written by Kendra Cherry to get a little background on the subject and you can see that it has been practiced as part of religious beliefs and simply to gain some form of inner peace, without the need for any attachment to a belief system.
I will tell you that my first attempt at meditation nearly resulted in disaster.
I’d always struggled with the ideas of “emptying my mind” and relaxing, just as I suspect you do too — we are entrepreneurs after all and our minds are constantly overflowing with ideas, and with that amount of information flooding through my gray matter, is there any wonder that relaxation was near-impossible?
The idea was to focus intently on a lit candle — you can sit away from the candle (in my case I was laying in bed with the candle placed on my dressing table in the bedroom) and stare at the flame thinking only about the flame.
Well, it seemed to work…until I could smell burning!
I had fallen asleep and the candle had fallen over and onto some papers on the table — back to the drawing board!
I did hear one analogy recently when I was researching transcendental meditation, which really captivated my imagination and put life into perspective.
Think of an ocean and one where there are say, forty-foot waves crashing around on the surface of the sea — there is a huge amount of noise, activity and it can cause mayhem if you are trying to swim or sail a boat.
But as you move deeper and beneath the surface, you will find still, calm water which you could easily swim in and enjoy the views of sea life.
For many of us, including me, we are living and operating at the surface of the ocean and probably in the forty-foot wave category — even if we are lucky enough to enjoy some calmer waters, we are still not devoid of noise and this is why we struggle to function optimally and create unnecessary stress and tension in our bodies.
Following one crash to the next, one rough wave to another, we are never able to settle and take ourselves to where we know there is a sense of calm — a point in the exact same ocean, but simply deeper down from the surface.
And that is exactly what we need to do with our minds.
But how do you do it?
Meditation to me is a simple technique that we are all born with…in fact, we practiced it with ease as children. How many times do you remember being told off as a child when you were “daydreaming?”
Daydreaming is about as pure of a meditative state that you could get yourself into…but guess what?
You were shut down — parents, teachers and I’m sure some of your friends would tell you to “snap out of it” and to “concentrate.”
I know I was, just as I was told to forget about my imaginary friends, my wild dreams about aliens and space, plus all of those wonderful, creative, and bold thoughts we all had before we were told to “grow up.”
Meditation Is Natural
Daydreaming is natural, falling asleep is natural and have you ever thought about a time when you were simply walking without a care in the world and when your mind was just “free” and whatever thought that came to you was acknowledged and accepted without any further thought?
In fact, when I was building my first main company, and I was on vacation, I would have some of my best ideas literally flow to me when I was laying at the edge of the ocean or walking aimlessly along the beach…now that is meditation!
Now I’m going to get straight into the technique and I will stress that this is my own interpretation of meditation that requires no belief system or following — I don’t like techniques where you have to attend courses before you can learn a certain “style” or “art.”
To me, that reeks of commercialism and ignores the fact that you already know how to meditate, but have simply forgotten.
This technique comes from my study of internal martial arts and through my friend Chris Ray Chappell.
10 Minute Meditation Technique
Don’t worry, you will not need to get into any specific postures, adopt any hand positions or start chanting — I chose the picture above because that is the idea that I had in my head as to the posture I would have needed to get in, just to begin!
There’s nothing wrong with this or any other posture for that matter, it’s down to an individual choice and that is of course, up to you.
The technique is based on creating opposite forces of “lifting to the sky” and allowing gravity to root you to the floor and is called “standing meditation.”
Many practices ignore one or the other part of the technique and this will render it largely ineffective. Over the years you and I have become accustomed to walking, standing, and laying down in certain postures and if you take walking and standing, then it is almost guaranteed that we have allowed our bodies to get out of the correct alignment and this causes a myriad of issues.
Your body is meant to be “stacked” correctly, from the toes to the tip of the head and when you have this, you will allow the energy to flow freely through your body — don’t take my word for it, just practice for a few sessions and you will feel the difference for sure.
Once you are able to gain some form of mastery over the technique, you can use elements of it at will, especially when you feel you are getting anxious, stressed, or that your body is tightening.
Most of us walk around like coiled springs — we are wound up through our musculature and that only leads to increased pain and wear and tear…not just on our bodies, but the one system that a healthy and long life needs to be in full working order:
Our nervous system.
I remember my grandmother talking about one of her neighbors, telling me that they had a problem with their “nerves.” That was how she would describe someone who was not obviously ill, but nevertheless not 100% right!
So work through the technique slowly and diligently, without any pressure to get it right the first time, or the second for that matter, just let it flow and try to relax.
The videos below will help you massively to understand the correct form and posture, but I’ve added a few bits here to exaggerate the feeling before you begin, to show you just how easy it is to create excess tension in the body.
The videos will give you the exercises to help you feel your way into the correct standing posture, which I suggest you practice for around 10 minutes each day.
Take a standing position and try to “stand to attention” like one of the Queen’s Guards — you know the posture, chest out, shoulders back, and keeping your body bolt upright.
Don’t worry about tension, because you are going to learn that this “proud” position is far from optimal health-wise and will create massive amounts of tension, which many of us continue to hold…for most of our lives!
Now, systematically do the following:
- Feel like your head is being suspended from the sky and gently tilt your chin forward and pull it in slightly
- Holding that position, drop your sternum down (the feeling is that you are dropping it behind your belly). But don’t force it — you should feel your shoulders naturally “round” as a consequence, but not a primary action
- Gently lower your tailbone and you will feel the weight of your body drop, but against the suspended head you started with. Your quads should gently release and relax as you are rooting deep into the ground
This is a very simple procedure to learn how to firstly create tension and then release it.
The technique comes under the umbrella term of “standing meditation” and it forms the basis of many Chinese internal martial arts.
As I have said, the technique revolves around standing completely still and for up to 10 minutes initially — from there you can add as much time as you can manage and the benefits will be immense when you commit to consistent practice.
But although standing still may seem easy, there is a specific technique that needs to be mastered in order to get the full benefits and there are certain exercises (with movement) that you need to learn before you can perform the standing meditation.
The two videos below go through the posture and the tension-release movements which you can practice daily.
These exercises are a wonderful way to see how you can first identify the four major “centers” of the body — the head, chest, pelvis, and feet and then see how they are interconnected to provide the correct structure or form.
I cannot stress enough to you that these are extremely powerful exercises and they work on the internal systems of the body — it’s not how wonderful your muscles and body look, but the efficiency of what keeps you alive, your internal organs and systems.
When you work through these exercises systematically, then you will be gently exercising your internal systems and there will be no need to force yourself into oxygen debt or to go through any pain…but that doesn’t mean it is not hard work.
The hard work is learning how to relax and remove tension and that is something that has been with you all of your life.
10 Minute Meditation Technique — Breathing
The above video shows the basic “belly” breathing technique which is different from simply breathing in and out through the chest.
Many of us do not use our lungs to their full capacity and that is why we can encounter breathing issues later on in life — breathing is one of the most important exercises that you can do…not that it’s even an exercise because it is totally natural.
When you are performing the standing meditation, you will be able to use the above technique to breathe gently and almost inaudibly — breathing is also a great way to control your heart and blood pressure and as you learn to remove tension from the chest and shoulders, you will be able to focus intently on your belly or diaphragm.
As you can see, you can breathe this way laying down very easily and it will help you to relax and fall asleep!
Benefits & Putting It Into Action
I would suggest that you devote at least 10 minutes every day to this practice and trust me, you will notice some amazing benefits and broadly speaking they fall into 3 categories:
- Mental — an increased sense of calmness, a reduction in anxiety, and an overall feeling of greater wellbeing
- Healing — helping to improve chronic fatigue, joint pain and generally releasing excess tension in the body
- Strength — improved overall body power, balance, and stamina
You may be thinking as to how you can improve your stamina without doing any harsh physical exercise and on the face of it that’s exactly what I thought until I noticed the exact opposite!
As I said, this is totally counter-intuitive and sometimes you just have to accept things for what they are — I come from a background of martial arts and Olympic weightlifting, so I expect to work hard to get any results.
Now, when I first tried standing meditation, I was literally shaking and sweating all over my friend’s studio floor…but I was never out of breath!
Over time, I became used to it and now it just fits into my day…but I am a lot stronger, healthier, and happier.
You may also want to know that I used standing meditation to learn how to walk again!
All those years of martial arts and lifting took their toll and just six years ago, I had to use a cane to walk — just learning to stand correctly allowed me to ditch the cane and I am still holding off a total hip replacement!
Apart from your daily practice, you can incorporate standing into all aspects of your life — at work, on the train, bus, subway, and even when brushing your teeth (not ideal but better than nothing).
But you don’t always have to go through the entire postural alignment each time…say you are waiting for an important meeting and sitting in a chair, then you can simply get the correct head position and drop the sternum, which will immediately release tension and bring a sense of calmness to you.
You can add some nice, gentle belly breathing to it and now you can start to focus your mind and prepare it for the meeting, but without having to think about the meeting, which will only bring you back to the surface of the ocean!
Just walking down the street or even around your house or garden can give you an opportunity to breathe deeply and stop thinking about anything other than your breathing.
And if you are in a high-stress job or environment, then you absolutely should take the time to practice a few minutes standing throughout your day…your health and wellbeing will be thankful for it.
But for me, one of the best times is when I’m laying down and getting ready to sleep.
I feel my body go heavy as I sink into the mattress, allow my head to fall backward, my sternum to relax, and let my hips, pelvis, and legs just go heavy.
But then my phone will ring and de-rail the process so I have to start it again…you get the idea, but it’s better than setting my bedroom alight with a candle!
Last modified: September 29, 2021