Entrepreneurship as a Meditator

I practice acupuncture and while there are a few paid positions here and there, most practitioners run their own practices. I have run my practice for the past 9 years and have earned my living while supporting my two daughters. Part of this requires me to bring in new patients, retain current patients and stay in contact with all patients. There is an entrepreneurial aspect to the business with putting myself out there and promoting myself. I haven’t had to do it for awhile because my business had been coasting and auto regulating, however, I’m finding myself needing to put some energy into that again. As all self-employed people know, business ebbs and flows.

Developing the qualities of an entrepreneur has been a work in progress, I didn’t enter my acupuncture career in 2008 especially inclined that way, in fact, friends might have described me as more introspective and monk like. Before acupuncture school, I’d spent 4 years meditating in South Asia. Given this, I’ve needed to work to develop those qualities.

The process of meditation uncovers all the inclinations of the mind. There are natural strengths which come to the surface to support one almost effortlessly. Then there are areas where someone finds they aren’t as practiced at and need to develop. Meditation by itself does not magically make someone an entrepreneur if they don’t already have those qualities developed in them. Conversely, there are many charismatic people in the world who are natural born entrepreneurs, who will never meditate a day in their life. The meditation part only brings wisdom to whatever conditioning we are working with, to come out of the minds unconscious habit of reacting to pleasant and unpleasant sensations with craving and aversion to purify the mind.

When starting my acupuncture practice, I found myself seeking out people who were good at entrepreneurship for advice and skill development. Then I would need to do things which would take me out of my comfort zone like give talks and put myself out there. It’s challenging to do things which bring up discomforts such as anxiety and fear. There was no discourse in the 10-day discourses which specifically touched on this subject. It was a process of integrating what I learned from the coaches instruction together with my experiential practice of vipassana. I think that’s such the case with integrating vipassana to life, there’s often not a discourse that specifically explains how to apply your practice to certain life experiences. Assistant teachers can be of great help to bridge that gap, especially those who’ve had experience with integrating similar things, but I found the greatest learning came experientially from within myself.

It was challenging to go from a humble meditator who valued quiet to someone who needed to put themselves out there, to direct and instruct people, to promote and be more vocal. My experience as a devoted meditator had been so antithetical to being an entrepreneur. The last thing I was developing while meditating in a cell was that of an entrepreneur. These have been two different worlds which have needed to be brought together for the sake of success for my business and my own development.  This makes going back to meditate on my next course in the cell all the more deep and rich.

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About Chris Hammond

I've been practicing Vipassana since 1996. I found Vipassana after serving in Peace Corps Sri Lanka. After Peace Corps, ​I had open ended time and did a lot of sitting and serving in South Asia. Currently, I am an acupuncturist practicing in Baltimore MD. I have 2 beautiful daughters ages 6 and 4. I am involved in serving at Dhamma Delaware and have been active with Vipassana in the Mid Atlantic region for many years.
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2 Responses to Entrepreneurship as a Meditator

  1. Ryan Shelton says:

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing your difficult personal challenges. I think these are the topics that are rarely discussed with meditators, but are so critical for navigating the landscape of meditating in today’s world. I hope others also find it helpful.

    • Chris Hammond says:

      Thanks Ryan, it was a great idea for you to start this blog. I find it helpful to write and read of others experiences of applying Dhamma to life too. I think it’s really supportive to meditators trying to navigate their practices in the world.

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