“What’s up all you party people?”
This is what I say when I walk through the door after being out all day. I know my three kids are home and my family is waiting for me. It’s how I turn the page from one mental space to
I’m a Vistage Chair and we had a speaker present in July named Steve Snyder who is a
meditation and personal empowerment expert. The topic of mindfulness and meditation
resonated with all the CEO members in attendance. Vistage is the leader in executive advisory opportunities. Many of the C-Suite executives I coach try some form of meditation practice to varying degrees. However, very few are at a stage where they are able to practice meditation the way they want.
Enter the idea of micro-meditations i.e. brief phases of departure from the self. Yes you can
actually get value out of one moment of meditation. It doesn’t need to be an hour or even 20 minutes. In the case of a micro-meditation it can be a single breath or less than a minute. I know this may feel a little abstract, but Steve Snyder will help me out.
Steve authored the book “Focused Passion” where he discusses the importance of awakening our Alpha brain state or “the state of focused concentration” experienced by the artists, athletes, musicians, and others who achieve greatness.
Steve utilizes the concept of the peaceful place. He explains in the book, “To find your peaceful place, stop, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and just for a few moments, image yourself in a quiet, peaceful place. Pretend you can see the place, or hear the sounds, or simply feel as though you are there. A few moments (10 or 20 seconds), in this real or imaginary peaceful place, you’ll find to have a profound influence on your ability to effectively handle stressful situations or give any moment the focus it deserves.”
Micro-meditations are particularly useful tools to bring you out of moments throughout the
workday, especially when you’re having different levels of conversations from water cooler
chitchat to a heated argument or company-wide presentation. It’s free transportation to a
different kind of moment.
Here is a common workplace scenario that calls for a micro-meditation: the open door
How do you give the person who walks in the respect and integrity of that time? There is
nothing worse than someone popping into your office as you write an email and you pretend to be listening intently. It’s usually pretty obvious and doesn’t make your co-worker feel very good.
The micro-meditation is a quick fix. Imagine your peaceful place to take your mind off what you were focused on and transfer attention to your colleague. They won’t notice that you
disappeared in your mind for a brief moment.
The day after Steve spoke to our group, one of my members put micro-meditation into practice right away with his open door policy. He found it helpful because he wants to show up for his people, but does a lot of heady writing in his office. Now when he is constructing something and an employee walks in, he uses the visual of a peaceful place and breathes. He thinks it’s great to not feel caught up in multiple worlds. This way, he can split them. He is able to stop writing and focus his attention elsewhere in a matter of seconds.
How does micro-meditation work? Let me take you through the process or at least my version:
Picture your peaceful place, where there is a sense of peace every time you think of it.
Pull that up in your mind and that is your transition moment.
Take a deep breath and experience, visualize, and feel your peaceful place. Go to that space for a breath, two breathes, or as long as you like.
You’ll know when it’s safe to return back where you left off.
You’re now primed to listen well, be present, and focus on what is in front of you.
Most people go to a peaceful place during the meditation to step back and regain focus. My
peaceful place is facing the ocean, on the beach, sitting down on a lounge chair, feeling the
warm sunshine, and hearing the breeze. I cannot see anyone, only blue ocean and white sand. I may or may not see my feet. One of my members said his happy place is floating in outer space – the variety is endless.
Another example of a member putting micro-meditation into practice comes from someone
running a family business. He finds the technique incredibly valuable for tempering negative
emotions that may be getting in the way and being a better listener. Family businesses can be highly emotional, I know because I ran my own for over 16 years. This member said micro-mediations mean, “I can say something that makes rational sense” versus going off.'
C-level executives are obviously busy people, so it might be difficult to maintain a consistent
meditation practice each day, but a micro-meditation is a different story. These moments of
meditation can happen over and over again. We all have seconds to spare, especially if it means a moment’s peace.
When meditations are perfected they offer the tools needed to find a signal in noise, deal with conflict, bring ideas to light, rise out of a rut, show up for those around you in more meaningful ways and the list goes on. I’ve heard a micro-meditation likened to a skeleton key that unlocks everything creative and productive your mind might ever need.
If you’re a CEO, business owner, or trusted advisor interested in techniques to master your
mind, let’s connect.
About the Author:
I am a Vistage CEO Peer Group Chair and Founder of PeopleSurge, a business advisory company. I strive to elevate business leaders and enrich their journey to pave a path forward. I can be reached Kirk.McMillan@VistageChair.com.