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Health, Wealth and Meditation. The Secret Recipe to Success.
January 23, 2020

The word “relax” did not fit into my daily life for most of my career.  My days were filled with meetings, sales calls, family events, and all the operational jargon in between.  Being mindful was definitely not at the top of my mind. But when the retirement conversation between my wife and I began, mindfulness and relaxing were suddenly at the forefront.  So what changed?

In May of 2013, I sold my family business to a large publicly-traded company. The family business I loved, lived for, sweat for, created an empire for. From that day onward, my life changed.

I had spent more than 30 years building a business with my brother and our leadership team, and as fourth-generation owners, it was quite a change for us to sell our company. Relinquishing control, letting go of my daily routine for all of my adult life.  It was equivalent to sending my first-born off to college and never looking back. But it wasn’t all scary.

It was thrilling and exciting! I was getting to know how the new company worked, navigating the politics, buying more companies, and folding them in — all of this increased my fulfillment as a leader. The process opened my eyes to the bigger picture, to what could be.

The Warning Signs That You Are Stressed

The selling process was hard work, and the next three years were just as hard. In three short years, we made three acquisitions and took our team member count from 25 to nearly 60.  Through this growth came hurdles like; the blending of all the different cultures, maintaining morale, and keeping my own energy level up in the process.

During this phase of my career and life, my stress level increased, and I knew I needed to do something about it. I met with my family doctor who had no real suggestions except sleeping pills. That was not a route I wanted to take.

The RX I Needed that Was Prescription Free

My mindfulness journey began with a visit to a homeopathic doctor in 2014 at the suggestion of a colleague at work who recanted the results he achieved from his daily dose of natural supplements and her wellness advice.

In our initial consultation, it became clear to me that I was suffering from stress, lack of sleep, and low energy levels. After a full battery of blood work, my new doctor prescribed an array of supplements that continues today. She also prescribed a new exercise routine and to see a nutritionist. I did both, and the results have been phenomenal.

But the real change, the one that drives my behavior, my relationships, and my daily wellness, is meditation. After several years of my new doctor pushing and some research on my part, I finally gave in and started meditating. I have been meditating for four years now and must admit that the change has been miraculous.

If you had asked me the day before I started, “Would you ever meditate?” my answer would have been a resounding “NO!”.

Suffering in Silence

I was suffering; my family MD had continued to prescribe meds for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. I was heading down an unhealthy path, and it had to change.

On top of my medical problems, I was suffering in other areas of my life.

  1. lack of sleep
  2. breakdown in relationships
  3. a feeling of my mind always racing
  4. feeling like I was on a sinking ship
  5. loss of my creative juices
  6. being short with my teammates
  7. not being present when I was with most people, especially those that I loved
  8. lack of focus
  9. lack of energy
  10. loss of my life’s vision  

For the third time in three years, my new homeopathic doctor suggested meditation. She said it had saved three of her client’s lives. That was enough for me to begin. I downloaded an App on my phone called Headspace and started the next day. Another great one is the Calm app. You can also get private sessions for a professional if that’s for you.

Breaking the Habits and Making a New Routine

This new routine of meditation was probably the hardest new habit I have ever tried. It took several months of trial and error before I noticed any change and made it a regular part of my day.

I came up with every excuse in the world as to why it was not working; I did not have the time; it felt ridiculous; I was not convinced. If someone walked in on me while I was doing it, I was embarrassed. Then I began talking to others about it. As I asked people what they knew about meditating, I was surprised how many people have been doing it and how many have been doing it for decades!

Making Meditation and Mindfulness Stick

So, I stuck with it and found a way to make it part of my daily routine. One of my favorite parts of the day is first thing in the morning. And the very first thing I do once I wake up is to have my morning cup of steaming hot, black coffee. In my mind, nothing good happens until I have that first sip.

James Clear’s Atomic Habits outlines a proven framework for creating good habits and shedding bad ones. Using his methodology, I made a small change in my daily routine, and it had a profound effect on my life.

I put the 10-minute meditation practice, right in front of my early morning coffee. The only way I could have that coffee was after I meditated. That was it. That was how I began my mindfulness practice four years ago.

But it was still hard. My brain has been busy thinking with no constraints for so long; when I would sit and go through the process, I had all I could do not to jump up and stop. Using Headspace has been easier for me because it’s a guided meditation. The founder, Andy Puddicome, has the most amazing and calming voice as he starts every session with some tips and gentle breathing, then through the 10-minute session (you can pick more extended time frames), he is coaching and leading you.

It took me about three months before I found a rhythm and started to see measurable results in my life. More importantly, everyone around me noticed a change.

Self- Care and the Ever-Improving Journey

Today, I can share that my life is completely different than it has ever been, and I continue to deepen my mindfulness journey and encourage as many people as I can to try it. I have had some success, but there still is that resistance, just like I had, to fight to do it.

The overall change I see besides lower stress, better health, and better relationships, is a quieter mind. It allows me to be present in every interaction; my mind does not wander into the past or future. I have added journaling, exercise, and stretching to this early morning routine. These morning habits have reduced my dependency on some of my prescription drugs.

I recently added a walk in the woods to my routine and found time to do another meditation while walking. All of this has made my life so much better in so many ways. Upon selling my business, starting retirement, and creating a new business in the process, mindfulness, meditation and an overall focus on my health has given me the energy and motivation to continue excelling.

Leave any comments below about your mindfulness practice and the benefits you see.

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Markham Rollins is dedicated to developing meaningful, transformational journeys for career-oriented professionals when they’re facing—or anticipating—retirement. He serves as a guide for successful individuals who, up until now, have built their identity around their business and professional successes. Markham helps entrepreneurs and executives rewrite their story of retirement so that it is filled with purpose, passion, and clarity.