Based on an interview with meditation teacher, entrepreneur, and founder of The Path, Dina Kaplan.
Before turning to meditation, Dina lived in the opposite world — the whirlwind of founding a tech company which raised $35mm in venture capital money and scaled to offices internationally. The start-up was called blip.tv, a platform for original shows, somewhat similar to an early version of YouTube.
Her life quickly became meetings and conferences, hiring and firing and tough decisions about strategy and scaling and managing a P&L. She figured out the “job” part of her job. What she couldn’t figure out was how to be herself in that role…how to stay true to herself, as a feminine founder, in such a male-dominated company and industry.
Dina thought she had to act “like a guy” to be as successful as the male entrepreneurs she was meeting at tech events, people like Peter Thiel and Larry and Sergei from Google.
She wasn’t even sure how they acted at work but decided they were probably tough and worked around the clock. So she put on a tough exterior, worked constantly, and suppressed her true self completely.
Some of this worked. Dina was named a Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur, one of 10 Women of Web 2.0 by Fast Company, and she was invited to speak at conferences around the world. Life on the outside looked perfect but on the inside, it was a mess.
“The mess of the dichotomy between her outside world, and what was happening on the inside, led to intense panic attacks for two years, until one day she decided she needed to get healthy again.”
She abruptly quit her job and left to travel the world for two and a half years, never looking back.
Dina reached a pivotal point during a silent retreat in India when she realized she spent her whole life trying to be popular and it wasn’t serving her. During meditation, she realized she had the power to change herself and to choose to be authentic. At that moment she had a life-changing realization — that everyone could benefit from meditation, but meditation retreats didn’t have to be this hard. (She had no soap, no toilet paper, no AC, and it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit!)
At that moment, on retreat, a voice came to her and said, “When you come back to the US you’ll start a company to make meditation more mainstream, to be beautiful and full of light. And you’ll call it The Path.”
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, according to Dina, is about focusing your way. And about paying attention without judgment. It’s not just “clearing your mind” or “thinking of nothing.” It is allowing your thoughts to be there but not judging them.
There are Four Main Categories of Meditation
Meditation can be for everyone. There are hundreds if not thousands of types of meditations to choose from, however, most fit into these main categories.
- Mindfulness Meditation. This is the most known in the West. It involves focusing on a single point (such as the breath). Mindfulness benefits include reducing stress and training the mind to focus.
- Manta Meditation This style is meditating around a “mantra” or a Sanskrit word, such as “so hum.” This type of meditation is great at increasing creativity and also reducing stress.
- Energizing Meditation. Meditation can bring natural energy to the body when you incorporate breath work such as alternate nostril breathing or Kundalini work.
- Goal-Based Meditation. Goal-based meditations are used when the student wants to invite a certain aspect into his or her life, such as more compassion or gratitude.
MEDITATION & BUSINESS GO HAND IN HAND
As life becomes more and more stressful, meditation becomes even more important.
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
-Old Zen saying
Juggling work and life can create an impact on the mind, body, and spirit. Meditation can help balance your business life and provide strategies for coping with the stress of it all. In addition to reducing stress, it can increase focus, happiness, and overall health…leading you to show up every day as your best self. Many high-level CEOs discuss the importance of meditating. Leverage co-founder and CEO Nick Sonnenberg tells how it helps increase productivity and aids in managing ADD.
While the benefits of meditation are becoming more mainstream, some people are wary of beginning… associating it with “woo-woo” practices instead of an easily accessible part of a daily routine.
HOW CAN YOU START?
The first step to meditation is to close your eyes and breathe. It’s that simple. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no “wrong way” to meditate.
- Teacher Route: If you are ready to take the first step with the help of a teacher, you can find a well-known teacher such as Sharon Salzburg or Jon Kabat-Zinn online and view a few of their teachings. If you’re in NY, LA, or San Fran email firstname.lastname@example.org directly and she will help you find a local teacher.
- Meditation Apps: There are several meditation apps that help teach you the basic principals. They also have different sessions geared for particular events (sleep meditation, goal-setting, happiness, etc). Our favorites are:
- The Breathing App
- 10% Happier