My good friend Richard Atherton from FirstHuman recently interviewed me on what “Being Human” means to me. There was a particular focus on how meditation, a core part of my life, has allowed me to develop my own understanding about humanity and to arrive at my own conclusions about “Who am I?” and “The purpose of my life”.
This short article with a trailer of the interview provides a synopsis of the full interview.
Since 1981, meditation has been a central pillar of my life. In the same way that people have to eat three times a day, I have to meditate every day. Otherwise I don’t feel complete.
Just eleven years old, I came to the UK in 1971 as part of Idi Amin’s expulsion of the Indian community from Uganda. We arrived in Britain with virtually nothing, and I entered the school system only to experience some quite severe bullying. This was what first brought me to martial arts, then in turn to meditation. The process of clearing the mind of external distractions and learning how to go into silence began to stir a sharp understanding of perspective and of the self.
Since the start of my professional career, a daily practice has been fundamental to my life. So much so that, when I founded Onepoint in 2005, meditation became part of the fabric of our business. It has always been optional for staff, but the majority of our team take part each day.
I recently sat down with an old friend of mine, Richard Atherton of First Human’s Being Human Podcast, to discuss this and specifically how important it is to constantly ask the self “who am I and what do I need to do in life”. You can listen to the full interview HERE.
One thing that visitors to the Onepoint office often remark, and something I’d like to talk about in a little more depth, is how quiet and how calm the space is. This is a by-product of the huge amount of work we put into creating an environment of contentedness among our staff.
The greatest personal gain from meditation for me has been the ability to discover the self and really answer the age-old questions of “Who am I?” and “What am I doing here, what is the purpose of my life?” This on-going self-discovery has allowed me to find my true inner values and stir an awareness of what I want to achieve in this life.
Clarity on this is so important because it allows me to be true to myself. I will be able to define my goals and, most importantly, be able to judge whether my life has been successful. As a result, I am on my journey toward achieving my own goals and not goals set or influenced by other people or society. This is a way to be content and to be happy.
There are many different techniques now available for meditation. I encourage people to find what works for them. I am for early morning meditation, as well as a couple of minutes every hour and ten or so minutes at night. It really helps.
The meditation before you go to sleep is particularly important as it allows the self to review the whole day; to learn from it and then to move on. It means that any negative situation or thoughts or feelings can be processed and hopefully removed ahead of a good night’s rest. And the next day can start on a positive footing.
At the Onepoint offices, we encourage our team to engage in one or two minutes of centring meditation every hour because we believe that it makes us happier people, better decision makers and more successful operators.
What we call ‘Traffic Control’ meditation is something that we employ specifically because we want it to be accessible to as many people as possible, be they our own team members, visitors or our wider network. We passionately believe that these practices can have the same positive impact on our working lives as they do in our personal and family lives.
As a result, we endeavour to integrate the practice into our daily lives in a natural, accessible way. We keep our eyes open as music is fed through our offices on the hour every hour, and we encourage calmness, quiet and reconnection. Meditation can be a form of prayer, but more simply it is checking your feelings and emotions: moving away from “doing” to settling the mind into a state of “being”, re-connecting with yourself via positive and uplifting thoughts. Just two minutes of meditation can change the next 58 minutes of the hour and make them better.
It allows the team to decompress and depressurise their minds regularly, preventing the everyday hurdles and challenges of the office environment overtaking or interfering with our wellbeing, happiness or judgement.
These are just some of the reasons why meditation discipline is so central to our day-to-day business. We don’t simply view it as a means of maintaining our team’s personal and emotional wellbeing (although that is the number one priority) it is also a way of making us more efficient, more productive and it helps establish better relationships. In different ways, everything listed aids the success of our business.
But what we never lose track of is that the aim of meditation is to become a better person. How you deal with people, how you deal with situations.
We see our most important role as helping the people who work for and with our organisation – becoming happy and successful in themselves, whatever their goals may be.
If we can honestly say that we have achieved that, even for one person, I’ll be very happy indeed.