3 San Diego Entrepreneurs That Built Their Business About Breathing
These companies have a mission to teach people how to tap into their inner stillness
Illustration by Verónica Grech
Meditation in the Workplace
Until 2012, Shannon Jordan was a closet meditator. It was just something she did to balance a demanding career, marriage, and motherhood. That all changed when a coworker at Qualcomm, where she worked in talent development, started a lunchtime meditation session. Jordan witnessed its impact on the workplace—less reactivity, less distraction, a better focus amid tight deadlines.
Coffee with an acquaintance from the Center for Mindfulness at UCSD prompted Jordan to pivot. “I knew in that moment that if I could back it up with science and data, mindfulness would become the foundation for my work in developing high-performing individuals, leaders, and teams within organizations,” she says.
Now, when companies want their employees to bring more purpose, intention, and creativity to their work, they turn to Jordan’s consulting firm, Career Ingenuity Group, which emphasizes the benefits of mindfulness that have been proven by science—increased performance and efficiency, and fresh perspective—in hopes of inspiring leadership, resilience, compassion, emotional intelligence, and more in her corporate clients. “My goal is to take some of the mystery and misconception away from mindfulness,” she says.
Jordan has consulted with big-name businesses like PayPal, Oracle, eBay, American Express, Qualcomm, and Kaiser Permanente. She is also certified to teach “Search Inside Yourself,” the emotional intelligence program formed at Google, as well as the corporate-based mindfulness training Potential Project.
Jordan often asks clients to take three deep breaths before a meeting. If they can spare 10 minutes, she suggests focusing on the breath moving in and out of the body. Calm, focus, and clarity, she says, are crucial for effective business dealings. “Over the years, I consistently made the same observation. Despite high intellects, pedigree educations, and all the right experience and skills, even the most well-intentioned professionals would often get in their own way.”
A Virtual Guru
Meditation and mindfulness techniques can be tailored to fit every one of us, says Brian Alman, an Encinitas-based psychologist. There are quiet meditations, active meditations, techniques to stay present, and those designed to dig into past traumas, PTSD, or relationship stress.
While the busy doc works locally year-round, he also connects virtually with users seeking his brand of personalized mindfulness training through an app called TruSage. TruSage delivers research-backed mindfulness techniques via text. It can be tailored to delve into the root causes of stress, help manage bad habits, or to simply take a minute to destress at any time. It also tracks patterns in your schedule based on questions you answer, to identify moments when you might be more stressed or prone to overeating and need a little extra support. An example text might be “We accept the love we think we deserve,” with a link to a tip or a serene nature scene. TruSage is used in over 100 countries, and GreatCall, a San Diego-based wireless services provider for seniors, sends Alman’s mindfulness, meditation, and wellness techniques to thousands of seniors across the country.
Many people who try meditation give up because they can’t quiet their minds. TruSage helps counter this with a text message reminder. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, the payoff of practicing mindfulness is nothing short of amazing, Alman says. “It’s almost beyond your imagination what people can accomplish—never underestimate the power of the mind.”
A “Little” Can Be Major
Julie Hunt never thought she’d be able to meditate. Her mind wandered, and she’d often follow it down the rabbit hole. “Nobody could really explain to me how to meditate—I felt like a failure,” she says. Hunt was working at the Chopra Center compiling various teachings into an online meditation program when she came across this quote from the guru: “Your thoughts during meditation are a form of stress relief.” She had an aha moment. “I was doing all these things in my life that were good for me—eating well, doing yoga, being mindful, and breathing. I started to realize that having thoughts during meditation wasn’t bad or wrong.”
Her transformation continued after enrolling in teacher training at the center. By the end, she knew she’d found her calling and, two years later, she founded her own business.
A Little Meditation—named for the principle that a little meditation leads to a lot of transformation—offers one-on-ones with clients seeking a lifestyle program, monthlong restorative meditation boot camps, primordial sound workshops, and a complete mind-body-spirit transformation customized for each client.
Although people visit A Little Meditation for various reasons, Hunt says many come to her workshops and retreats or e-courses “because something’s broken.” They’ve gone through major life changes, such as divorce, or are dealing with anxiety or depression. As stress builds, it suppresses the natural flow of energy, she says, increasing toxicity and inflammation, and causing both psychological and physical pain. But, it doesn’t have to.
We underestimate the power of taking care of ourselves, Hunt says. If we as individuals take care of ourselves, it resonates outward in a ripple effect, and if more of us meditate, “We’d be more open and loving in speech and thought and action. If each one of us just took the time to meditate, I am certain that we will create global transformation.”