Words like meditation and mindfulness don't tend to resonate with busy entrepreneurs, for whom the mere idea of being without Wi-Fi or turning off their phones induces a panic attack.
But taking a break need not involve donning a robe and chanting cross-legged in a dark room for hours. Ten minutes is all it takes, argues Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, a guided-meditation platform: "I don't think [entrepreneurs] can afford not to.
It's a total illusion to think that in taking time out you lose something. We gain something and become more focused, creative and productive. If we don't have 10 minutes to look after the mind, there's maybe a bigger problem."
A former monk at a monastery in Tibet, Puddicombe returned to the U.K. in 2010 to found Headspace with marketing executive Rich Pierson, with the aim of demystifying meditation and making it accessible and relevant. Ten-minute sessions, accessed through the Headspace app or website, are available for free once per day for 10 days. Thereafter, users have the option to continue with a paid monthly or yearly subscription.
Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey
Meditation is believed to sharpen focus, strengthen the immune system, reduce anxiety and help in treating addiction, as well as in tackling a prevalent problem among entrepreneurs: stress.
One of the simplest ways to take time out is to focus on one particular thing: your breath, the way your body feels--even your lunch. "Rather than sitting at your desk at lunchtime, working away on your computer, take five or 10 minutes away from your desk for some alone time with your sandwich--and be present with the smell, the taste," Puddicombe suggests. Small actions like this reduce distraction and create feelings of calm that last throughout those 18-hour workdays.
We all stand to benefit from a short timeout--no om required.