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Chill Out, Man!

As an entrepreneur, you're bound to feel tense. Learn to relax for the sake of your business.

Greg Christian's Chicago catering company, Greg Christian Catering and Events, was thriving but stress-filled. After meeting a meditation guide from Southern India three years ago, Christian started meditating on a regular basis. The result, he says, has transformed not only his outlook, but also his business.

"I [became] calmer and less reactive," says Christian, 47, who saw 2007 sales of about $3 million. "Ideas began to bubble up to the surface." One of those ideas was to make his catering company more health-minded and environmentally conscious--a niche that has differentiated him from his competition and led to new opportunities. He also founded a nonprofit to introduce healthier foods into the Chicago school system.

A 2003 University of Wisconsin, Madison, study found that workers who were trained to meditate became happier and calmer. That's a benefit that entrepreneurs can reap in just a few minutes a day, says Adrianne Ahern, performance psychologist and author of Snap Out of It Now. While taking a lunch break or sitting in the office, close your eyes and focus on the breaths flowing in and out of your body. As you do so, concentrate on relaxing your body and releasing tension. This is one form of meditation that can be easily practiced anywhere, Ahern says.

In Ahern's work with executives, she has found that regular meditation leads to greater creativity and decisiveness--not just in business but in all areas of life. The key to starting, she says, is to throw out preconceived notions of what meditation is and find a few minutes to just breathe.

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the January 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Chill Out, Man!.

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