How To Be A Part-Time Zen Master

YARD founder and CCO Stephen Niedzwiecki tells us how meditation and the book Walk Like A Buddha help him focus for maximum creativity, without completely changing his lifestyle

The value of daily meditation in promoting creativity and happiness is well documented, and busy people frequently cite their efforts toward a more zen existence. But many people have no idea how to get to such a state of peace, and full-on adoption of Buddhist practices doesn't necessarily appeal to everyone.

Stephen NiedzwieckiPhoto by Kristin Gladney

That's why Stephen Niedzwiecki, founder and CCO of creative agency YARD, recommends Lodro Rinzler's book Walk Like A Buddha: Even if Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex Is Torturing You, and You're Hungover Again, which hit shelves this past October.

"Without getting too new-agey, the book really puts into perspective the everyday things you go through," says Niedzwiecki, who conceived the hugely successful John Varvatos ad campaign featuring iconic rock stars that has run for more than ten years, in addition to campaigns for many brands including Perry Ellis, Keds, and Laura Mercier. "From work, from life, from dating, to whatever your issues are, he brings that philosophy in a way that is understandable, instead of all-Tibetan philosophy that can go over people's heads."

Niedzwiecki says the book is focused on making meditation and certain Buddhist approaches relatable to people with a wide range of lifestyles, including those who have no intention of giving up drinking, eating meat, or indulging in other typically non-Buddhist pleasures. "It's been really helpful in how I approach my business."

Niedzwiecki has also instituted a mandatory daily 45-minute meditation practice, which he makes sure to complete regardless of whether he's at work, at home, or on a walk. "I clear my mind and try to enjoy where I am, and what I'm doing," he says. "If I am taking a walk, I am enjoying the walk. I am not taking a walk and thinking about five clients. I am not worrying about how I am going to execute that shoot next week. I am just focusing on that walk."

This focus is particularly important when managing a team project. "Instead of sitting in a room for an hour talking about something, if everyone was focused, we could talk for 20 minutes," he says. "Most likely the ideas will be there and we can execute and we can spend the next forty minutes working it out and seeing if it really is a good idea."

[Image: Flickr user Alexis Gravel]

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  • "If you consider mindfulness as a means of having a lot of money, then you have not touched its true purpose, it may look like the practice of mindfulness but inside there's no peace, no joy, no happiness produced. It's just an imitation. If you don't feel the energy of brotherhood, of sisterhood, radiating from your work, that is not mindfulness. If you're happy, you cannot be a victim of your happiness. But if you're successful, you can be a victim of your success." - Thich Nhat Hanh