Retail Meditation

August 7th, 2013 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Retail Meditation

meditationMeditation is often defined as mindfulness – simply being in the moment, and not projecting oneself into the future, but rather being completely alert and mindful of what is happening right now. I love this quote by Alan Watts, which says it best:

“When we make music we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point.”

And exactly the same thing should be true in life. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.

I understand that for many this sounds vague, elusive, even hokey or spacey. But I would also contend that the reason it may seem this way is because of the challenge it presents to us, and it becomes easy to dismiss that which challenges us.

In our work, we are rewarded for projecting ourselves into the future. We are praised for forward thinking. Our lives are geared and conditioned for anything but being in the present moment. Basic human science will tell us, however, that the only measurable timeframe is the moment. Everything else is a projection forward into time. What is time really, but a very futile attempt at subdividing infinity. Can you do that?

The one true measurable timeframe; the one piece of time that seems to have the most value, and most of us completely skim over it every day. We really don’t even know how to be present in the moment. Children do; animals do. And we are so separated and unschooled in how to live in the present moment, that we tend to look down upon that perspective as being naive, unaware, or childish.

Think of it this way – life is unquestionably built upon a series of moments. That’s what comprises any timeframe we wish to embrace, as they are all merely built upon a certain amount of consecutive moments. In our society, we like to understand the parts that make up the whole. We have rightly concluded that this analysis can help us understand the whole. So, why not do this with time? Why not understand and embrace the very elemental and primal timeframe that enables every other timeframe we know of – whether it’s seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc.?

The moment is not fleeting, as we tend to assume. The moment is the most powerful point of the day. Sure, they come pretty quickly, but that’s no reason not to pay attention to them. And paying attention to the moment is really quite easy. The only requirement is that you want to participate. Because here’s what happens when you’re in the moment – true observation can occur. Our thoughts, our preconceived notions, our connecting one thing to another, all come about because we think ahead, because we project ourselves into the future. And while we have come to believe that this level of thinking is actually intelligence and being astute, it’s not necessarily true at all. The art of observation means just that. No judgment whatsoever. Not bringing any previous thought connection into the observation, or not having something you are observing remind you of something else. As soon as those patterns occur, you are no longer the witness, you are no longer observing – you are judging. And judging is not observation. It’s actually the antithesis of true observation.

So, here’s my challenge to anyone reading this blog today. Practice a little retail meditation. Find a place in your store where you can stand or sit, and have a pretty good view of watching people shop your store. And then just take some time to simply watch. Watch without thinking anything, or making any kind of assessments. Don’t write anything down; don’t jump to any conclusions; don’t ask yourself any questions; just very simply observe what your customers are doing. If you are able to do this, then you are indeed paying attention to what is happening in your store, and you will be astonished at what you see.

This very simple and clean activity (if you’re truly just observing in the moment) can literally change everything. You can feel like for the first time you really get what’s happening in your store. It can be pretty powerful, pretty enlightening, and is a good practice to do everyday. Just watch, observe, listen, and pay attention. Don’t distract yourself with trying to figure out what’s going on. Just observe, and everything else will become clear, because what happens when true observation takes hold, is that you are no longer thinking your way through a situation . . . you are experiencing it. And that is true engagement. That becomes your position of strength. Meditation is not inactivity. It is engaging in the most active form of awareness possible. Enjoy.