The world can be a fast and furious place, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming thanks to Mr Meditate, aka Tomas Jajesnica, who has won a Lord Mayor’s Small Business Award for spreading his own brand of calm over the city and beyond.
Tomas Jajesnica, Chief Meditation Officer at Mr Meditate, knew very little about meditation before a radio ad for an introductory class caught his attention some 23 years ago.
“I’d never meditated before, never really heard much about it – back then it wasn’t such a buzz word,” Tomas said.
“But something about that ad piqued my interest and I copied down the details, called my mum and together we went along to a one-hour session.”
The class gave him a taste of something he’d long been contemplating – if money didn’t buy you happiness, there must be another way to attain it. It wasn’t until that first class that the pieces started falling into place.
“Before I knew it, I’d signed up for a one-day course, bought a cassette of chanting techniques and suddenly I was sitting in a 10-day silent retreat.”
Tomas found the retreat so profound he promised to do it every year for the rest of his life – a promise he’s kept for 11 years now.
He knew he was on to something good, but it would take some time before he found a style that was all his own.
“I kept experimenting with techniques, removing the parameters, all the rites and rituals that seemed to come part and parcel of a meditation practice in those days.”
What eventuated was a modern take on the tradition – without the incense, the chanting and prescribed poses. It was both practical and profoundly impacted the way Tomas saw and interacted with the world.
At the time, he was working in the legal profession and in the little spare time he had outside billable hours, he completed his meditation teaching training and accreditation course, investing more than 8000 hours into his practice.
All the while, he couldn’t help noticing the pressures his colleagues were under.
“I worked with so many people who were stressed, sad and burning out, but I felt – for the first time in my career – that things were manageable.”
“I kept asking myself, what’s the difference? Then it clicked – I meditate.”
When R U OK? Day rolled around that year, Tomas reached out to management and asked if he could share his new skills by running a short mindfulness exercise.
“The boss agreed, it was a great success and they said I could come back the next year.”
“But you don’t go to the gym once a year and hope to feel your best, and it’s the same with meditating. I knew I had to offer something more if I was going to make a real change.”
Many of his colleagues had access to crisis employee assist programs and free gym memberships, but there was little to no investment in their emotional and mental health.
“In a firm that bills by the minute, no one was interested in taking even a second out of their day to let the dust settle and take proactive steps to avoid brain fog, exhaustion and sleep deprivation.”
“Meditation was seen as a luxury, but when I calculated what it could save us in billable time by enhancing concentration, and preventing the costs associated with burn out and unplanned stress leave, people started to listen.”
On 20 June 2012 at exactly 7.20pm, Tomas created Mr Meditate.
His vision was simple. He wanted to make people happier, and ideally wanted to see this new venture of his become redundant before too long.
The reality is his skills have never been in more demand.
One in five Australian adults experience a mental illness every year, and this figure has been increasing over the past decade.
“We’re all told to move our bodies, drink water, eat healthy food, but what are we doing about our minds?”
Just like so many of his fellow Lord Mayor’s Small Business Award winners, Tomas is a testament to the sacrifices made by our local business community.
“Starting Mr Meditate took a leap of faith. I quit my well-paying corporate job and got into the biggest debt of my life. But I could see the mental health of my friends and colleagues deteriorating in real time around me and knew I had to stick it out.”
Tomas was clear on his why, but it took another two years to get to the how.
“I experimented, I failed, I lost money – which makes for a very quick learning experience.”
“Everyone around me was telling me to go back to the legal world but one day I landed a conference, and then another and it has really grown from there.”
Tomas and his team have now helped more than 70,000 people tap in to deeper attention, insight and happiness.
Their workshops have introduced simple, new habits that help people cultivate more balanced lives, enhancing their concentration, as well as bottom lines and workplace culture.
You won’t just find Mr Meditate in conference rooms or the workplace. Tomas has been known to pop up around the city performing stunts to help people ‘take the edginess off without losing their edge’.
“I once sat on the walkway at Southern Cross with a billboard inviting people to take a minute to sit with me away from the rat race.”
“We also organised a flash dance during the morning commute to break people out of their stupors and make them smile. It was so heartwarming to see.”
After so many years honing the business offering, Tomas was honoured to be recognised with a Lord Mayor’s Small Business Award.
“I feel so privileged to be part of the City of Melbourne business community,” Tomas said.
“The announcement of this award remains my biggest ever social media post, triggering dozens of contacts and connections.”
When it comes to meditation, Tomas encourages everyone to just give it a proper try and keep it simple.
His three tips are:
1. Stuff motivation. Work with your intention, your ‘why’. Start small, but start.
2. Design it to suit you. Listen to prescribed methods, but find your own way.
3. Repetition. The secret to success is to keep going. Keep doing the work, keep showing up.
“Who knows, you might get hooked like me.”
About the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards
Melbourne is full of fantastic small business success stories.
The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards celebrate the people behind inner-city businesses that have stood the test of time.
Among the recipients are legends who have been in business in the city for 10+, 20+ and 40+ years. We also name a Small Business of the Year and Small Innovation Business of the Year.