Anton Babkov: Focus on the mind

With the advent of working from home, it's become increasingly difficult to disconnect from work when it's needed. And while taking great swathes of time to sit in the lotus pose may not be practical, Anton Babkov says you can incorporate small mindfulness practices into your daily routine with big results.

Mum was a real estate agent when we were growing up. 

Through Mum, I know all about the opportunity and excitement of negotiating a deal, but I also know that it comes with long days, late nights and lost weekends.

We started Rex to help make agents more efficient at what they do – deliver better service or marketing – we built Rex mobile to give more flexibility to working parents.

But what we can’t do is make you a better human, a better parent, a better friend or family member. Unfortunately, you can’t do human more efficiently.

The past two years, in particular, have meant that it’s been almost impossible to disconnect from work when it’s needed – and to reconnect with what’s important.

How do you do it?

Disconnect in the moment

A few years ago, I did a course to become a yoga teacher.

Unfortunately, I’m no closer to teaching and am ashamed to say touching my toes is still a challenge. 

But I did take away a few fundamental lessons about managing my mindset using mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is important because it takes us out of the anxiety, stress, or excitement that’s taking us away from where we are. It helps to ground us in the present moment.  

By learning how to ground ourselves in the moment – we learn how to hit the pause button on our thinking and practice how to shift our focus to where we are or what we want to attend to.

Here are three simple tips for a mindful moment: 

  • Brushing your teeth in the morning? – think – what does the toothpaste taste like? Feel the toothbrush on your teeth.
  • Drinking a wine? Be curious and follow the story – what is the flavour, why did the winemaker choose it, how many times did the sun go up and down as the grapes grew, how many hands did the wine bottle go through before it arrived at your table?
  • Walking? – what do your feet feel through the shoes – or better yet – take your shoes off and walk on some grass, or the carpet – what is it like to feel the prick of the blades of grass, or the carpet, for your toes to spread (thank you, Richard Gere, in Pretty Woman!)

A moment like this can last for 15 seconds or 15 minutes. There are benefits to both. 

Meditation isn’t about sitting in the lotus pose

The way we mostly think about meditation came about as a practice during a time when people’s lifestyles let them sit still for ages.

I don’t detract from the wisdom of it and if you have time – go for it – it’s incredible.

If you want to try a fast path – my personal favourite is listening to Andy Puddicombe – a former Buddhist monk who narrates many meditations on the Headspace App. 

But in our modern life – and real estate in particular – we have to fit in what works. To start from where we are.  

At its core – the most popular form of meditation we practice today is really about practising and, over time, getting better at three things: 

  • Settling on and maintaining a point of focus 
  • Observing the inevitable distractions from your focus with a gentle curiosity, seeking not to be drawn in or overwhelmed  
  • Once you’ve acknowledged the distraction, let it go and shift your mind back to your original point of focus.  

The meditation style we hear most about uses your breath as the point of focus.  

By practising this activity – you also create a moment of pause in your day – where you step away from your day-to-day and put down your daily worries. 

My observation has been that any activity which pulls you to focus on it – or encourages you to focus and reflect, can function as a meditation.  

For me – it’s my near-daily trip to the gym. It’s a repetitive action and when you’re doing it right, usually involves a close focus on your technique. 

Practice is the key. Focus, distraction, kind acknowledgement, release and refocus. 

Activity that involves some physicality helps as a shortcut, but you could paint, draw, dance, walk, and climb.  

The world is your meditation oyster.  

Go forth and meditate.

Show More

Anton Babkov

Anton Babkov is CEO of Rex - a team of entrepreneurs taking complex problems and untangling them into simple, usable products for the real estate sector.