If you’ve known Realvolve for even a short amount of time—in particular, if you know Dave—you’ve come to realize that mindfulness is a core value of the company. You’ve also heard someone (probably Dave) tout the virtues of meditation as a means of achieving that mindfulness.
It sounds a bit hippie-dippy, especially to those of you who aren’t the hippie-dippy type. But meditation isn’t some strange, alternative path to business success. It has become a mainstream habit practiced by all types of people—from CEOs to day traders to neurosurgeons. And it can benefit real estate agents, too.
I’ll admit it. When I hear “meditation,” I picture a bald guy in harem pants sitting cross-legged on a woven rug with pinched fingers resting on his knees. But you don’t have to shave your head, and you can wear jeans or a pencil skirt or khakis, and you can sit in your car or at the kitchen table. No matter who you are, meditation can be incorporated into your life.
I’m not currently one who meditates regularly, although I have dabbled in the past. So if you’re unfamiliar with the art of meditation, I’m right there with you. However, as someone who battles her fair share of anxiety, inefficiency, procrastination, and self-doubt (and who has, admittedly, always been a bit of a hippie), I’m willing to give it a try. Join me, won’t you?
First of all, what is meditation?
There are many different types of meditation, but the one that feels modern and relatable and relevant to the life of a real estate professional is the practice of mindfulness meditation.
Okay...so what does mindfulness mean?
Mindful.org defines it as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Harnessing this “basic human ability” requires practice, so that’s where meditation comes in. To practice mindfulness meditation, you simply find a comfortable seat and focus on your breathing. When your mind inevitably wanders to thoughts like Did I send that email? or Wow, I probably look pretty stupid right now, all you do is acknowledge those thoughts and then go back to focusing on your breathing.
That’s meditation. Pretty simple, right? Maybe even a little...boring?
You’re probably wondering how a few minutes of calm breathing can have any impact at all on your crazy workday.
Well, it can. And there’s science to back that up.
How Meditation Changes Your Brain
The reason why meditation works—and why it can have long-term benefits—is because it actually changes the physical structure of your brain.
When you regularly practice mindfulness meditation, the amygdala (associated with fear and emotion) shrinks and weakens as the pre-frontal cortex (associated with awareness, concentration, and decision-making) becomes thicker and stronger. “In other words,” writes science journalist Tom Ireland in an article for Scientific American, “our more primal responses to stress seem to be superseded by more thoughtful ones.”
As you continue to practice, this change in your brain will become permanent. Even in the midst of your hectic day, you’ll be able to recall that calm composure that you create during meditation.
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
When you’re able to be more mindful (more thoughtful, attentive, and aware), you have more control over how you respond to stressful situations and how you interact with other people.
Here are some key benefits of meditation that I think you, as a real estate professional, will find of interest:
- Improved stress management: You won't be so quick to have an emotional response to challenging situations.
- Deeper relationships: You'll be more focused and attentive when listening to your clients.
- Better and longer sleep: You’re newfound skills in relaxation will make it easier to lull yourself to sleep at night.
- Better understanding of yourself: You’ll be more in touch with your “why,” and better able to build an authentic brand.
How To Meditate
And finally, here’s how to meditate:
- Sit somewhere comfortable.
- Close your eyes, or lower your gaze to a point somewhere in front of you.
- Focus on your breath. Try inhaling through your nose for four counts and exhaling out of your mouth for eight counts.
- When your thoughts wander, simply acknowledge those thoughts and then turn your focus back to your breathing.
Don’t beat yourself up about losing focus—that’s supposed to happen. Our minds are wired to wander. The key here is to practice going back to that single point of focus, over and over again. As you continue to practice each day, you’ll be able to stay focused for longer stretches of time.
Here are a couple of great resources for getting started with meditation:
- Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind (Zen Habits)
- Headspace (an app & a great blog)
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that exercises your mind and shapes it to be better at helping you navigate through life. When you start thinking of your brain as a muscle that requires exercise, meditation doesn’t sound so freaky and New-Agey. So give it a try.(You don’t even have to listen to Enya!)