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How Southeast Asian Entrepreneurs Can Develop Mindfulness

Mindfulness at work allows one to perform at their best.

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BY Melissa G. Bagamasbad - 07 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Heading a start-up can be one of the most stressful jobs, with leaders having to take care of almost every aspect of the organization and the pressure to succeed resting heavily on one’s shoulders. This is why taking control of one’s thoughts and brain processes is especially important.

Mindfulness is defined as “deliberately turning your attention to vividly observe your thoughts, emotions, and even body sensations as they play out moment to moment, without trying to push them away or censor them,” says Lauren Mesa, MA, of the Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychological Services.

Mesa adds mindfulness can be especially useful for entrepreneurs “because mindfulness acknowledges that challenges and difficulties are inevitable. The practice advocates that you face life and its challenges head-on, by teaching skills to stay balanced and composed even during stressful and chaotic situations.”

Ready to overcome that breakdown you thought was inevitable? Here are tips for how entrepreneurs can practice mindfulness:

1. Keep a journal

Journaling has been quite the rage, with more people practicing various kinds like bullet journaling and scrapbooking. Planners are also coveted during the holiday season in countries like Singapore and the Philippines, with people availing of promos for these planners from coffee shops.

“It’s more than just a planner, [more than just something that keeps the schedule],” says Nella Lomotan of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Philippines. “I think having a journal in hand helps the person be organized and focused. It helps the entrepreneur prioritize. I think for a lot of people, writing is one of the most effective ways to help them know what their priorities are.”

This Inc. article by Benjamin P. Hardy says journal users can focus more and manage their emotions and thoughts with the use of the journal. “These benefits [of journaling] include: reducing scatter in your life, increased focus, greater stability, deeper level of learning, order, action, and release, holding thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated, and releasing pent-up thoughts and emotions.”

2. Pay attention to your breathing

Mesa says the most basic practice of mindfulness is simply to set a few minutes of your time each day to focus on the physical sensations of breathing. “Focusing on the breath allows your mind to settle into a calm state,” she says. “Attention on the breath anchors you to be in the present moment versus being carried away by worries about the future, or dwelling on past setbacks.”

3. Take breaks

As much as entrepreneurs need to hustle, working 24/7 isn’t sustainable. Mesa recommends mindfulness breaks in between tasks. “Before you launch into another work task – answering an email or making a business call, spend some moments to focus on your breathing and be aware of your current mental state,” she says. “This mindfulness practice allows you to check-in on how you are doing so you can deliberately create that shift in your mental state so you can come prepared and fully engaged for the next task.”

4. Observe your thoughts

This next tip may not be the easiest since being honest with one’s self can be tough, but the benefits are worth it. “Observe your thoughts as objectively as you can,” says Mesa. “This way of paying attention allows you to become aware of your automatic thinking patterns and biases that may lead to unoriginal ideas and rigidity in old ways of doing and perceiving things. Mindfulness helps us to be able to observe and break out of our automatic biases and foster creative and agile thinking.”