The business magnate credits much of his success to meditation and yoga, which he first pursued for the eye candy.
Russell Simmons created the "Meditation Made Simple" app to guide people of all levels through the practice.
WE ALL HAVE GOALS. Meditation and yoga are powerful tools to first realize your aspirations, and then set your plan into motion. When you practice yoga or meditate, you allow your mind to relax. A common misconception is that you are meant to be peaceful every time you meditate. In reality, meditation gives your mind the chance to take a break from constantly working and organizing. When you give your brain permission to meander, you observe your subconscious thoughts. This will reveal all of your emotional attachment to these thoughts – from the blissful ideas to the more difficult feelings that hold you back from achieving your goals.
I teach my yoga students to not only notice these thoughts that come up, but also to use their yoga practice to facilitate change. I have seen students make incredible transformations, including initiating a conversation with their parents about issues they have been holding onto since they were kids and leaving corporate jobs to pursue their passions.
First, through positive language and encouragement, my yoga students develop a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. Through practicing and achieving poses they initially thought were impossible, they become resilient and goal-oriented. This confidence supports them while they work through the mental obstacles that hold them back. With time, this process of seeing something through to the finish shifts their perspectives from a negative, restrictive attitude to a sense of radical accomplishment and abundance, both personally and professionally.
Russell Simmons is a great example of how yoga and meditation facilitates success in business. The hip-hop mogul and founder of the fashion line Phat Farm just released a mobile app, Meditation Made Simple. My philosophy is: If the app helps make meditation accessible to more people, and they become mindful about their health, it's a good tool. Simmons talked to U.S. News about his path to yoga and meditation, and why he believes it is one of the most important assets as an entrepreneur. His responses have been edited.
How did you first get into yoga and meditation?
Over 20 years ago, I went to my first yoga class because there were so many hot girls. [But] I came out of that first class thrilled because I was awake. I felt present. I went every day after. My teacher talked about meditation, and so I started to meditate. I've been doing it ever since, pretty much daily.
What type of meditation do you practice?
It's mantra-based. For example, inhale "let," exhale "go." Sit, set an alarm and be still. The point is to stay focused on the mantra and let go. My go-to mantra is "rum." It has no meaning. It's just a sound.
How has meditation helped you as an entrepreneur?
I created businesses from the experience of staying focused on one idea and having faith in it. Five to six years later, [the businesses] have come to light and they have given me hope to move forward.
The single-pointed focus – the idea of being in the world, and you're able to slow it down – [has helped]. When you're present, you don't feel bound by the past and you feel freedom for the future. Use that same brilliance to build something else.