Moving MeditationOctober 23, 2007
Reflections in the practice of tai chi, yoga and business philosophy
My career in business and the internal arts has spanned 40 years. Interestingly enough I started both at approximately the same time. My business was started out of frustration while working for my father in his linen supply business. My father was the ultimate boss and quite a different person when he was at the business as opposed to the way he was at home. During my first year with my father he assigned me to spend a lot of time with his manager. He was supposed to teach me the business. He did that and more. He taught me how to steal from the customers. We would consistently overcharge the customers. The more they trusted us to bill them correctly the more we overcharged them. This was not as one-sided as it appears. Quite often while we were delivering thru the front door they were stealing merchandise from our truck. According to my set of values at that time, we were even. Obviously this did not go on with all of the customers; however we took advantage whenever we could.
My father never knew anything of our stealing, and one day after berating me I actually started renting my fathers uniforms to a customer I had solicited on the side.(In other words I was stealing from my father).As I write this I cringe at the thought of stealing from my father. My values were certainly slightly lopsided. Perhaps the best thing to come out of my job with my father was my determination not just to leave his business but to become more successful than him. I was driven to succeed and started selling allied products to our customers. Although my father didn’t believe in my business he did lend me the money to buy inventory and rented me some space in his laundry to keep my products.
Slowly my business grew and eventually I was able to leave his business.
During the time I went from being an engineer to work with my father I was into my practice of karate. It was then that I started to develop a personal practice at home. My first actual decision at discipline was this practice. I was practicing all the time even on weekends. My teacher attracted many students, some of dubious character, and I seemed to fit right in.
I stayed with karate for over ten years practicing and teaching until I realized that I needed a change.
As soon as I saw the tai chi being practiced I knew intuitively that it was for me. It was the slow relaxed movements that attracted me.Tai Chi is about opening up the body. Relaxing every muscle ligament and tendon as the form is practiced. This practice is never ending as you can never relax enough. My body was especially tense and contracted, my muscles were extremely tight. I was so tense that I thought my tenseness was normal. Relaxation came slowly to me. I spent many years at the tai chi school and slowly began to see my self changing in my everyday behavior. My focus started to change. My business ethics and the way I interacted with my employees changed. They were no longer my enemies. It was at this time that my tai chi teacher died. I stayed on at the school for another five years, than I discovered yoga.
Yoga doesn’t mince any words. If you are looking inward, trying to connect with your own innate nature you are at the right place. You just need a good teacher. Luckily I found one. That was about fifteen years ago. I continued my practice of tai chi along with yoga. Slowly, profound changes started manifesting in my life. My heart actually felt like it had opened up. Other energy centers like the third eye opened up. My communication skills became better. Most of all I developed a sense of closeness with everyone I met.
Amazingly both disciplines are actually a form of moving meditation. In tai chi we concentrate on our center of gravity as we move thru the form. In yoga we concentrate on the breath as we move thru the postures. Both open up the body. Primarily tai chi cultivates the chi or internal energy which strengthens as the mind calms. Yoga calms the mind in search for what lies below. The changes which manifest inside us are reflected by our behavior on the outside. People whom I viewed as problematic in my business relationships were no longer viewed that way. I approached business problems with an open mind.
Some of my best successes in business came during these years. Here is an example.
In our industry we normally took a 2% discount for paying in 30 days. My plan was to approach our biggest supplier and offer them 3% discount for next day payment by wire transfer. I flew up to the supplier and presented them with my proposal. There were about fifteen of them and one of me. I was able to make my presentation in a calm rational manner, answering all questions with ease. Within the next few days they accepted the proposal. The presentation of this deal reflected a part of me which had developed thru my practice over many years. I was in a sense one with my business as I was in a sense one with others.
The whole point is to let yourself develop into who you really are. Business success like spiritual growth is all the same. First awareness develops which leads to a state of mindfulness. Ethics and morality shine forth and everything is done in the same way. As you sip tea you live your life. It’s all the same. Body mind and spirit form the whole being.