What I Learned from Going to a Meditation Studio
You get your flow on in yoga. You channel that om off the mat into a daily practice of reading inspirational quotes, or even unwinding with tea and a spa hack or two for a relaxing shower. But there’s an even cooler, totally ancient way to zen out and channel all that energy into something even bigger than yourself: meditation. The age-old practice seems to be popping up everywhere, whether through handy meditation apps or one of the next-level meditation studios opening up around the country. We tapped Ellie Burrows and Lodro Rinzler, co-founders of the meditation studio MNDFL, for lessons everyone can learn from taking a meditation studio class.
1. Leave your agenda and judgments at home. “If you think meditation is going to turn off your brain, you’re going to be disappointed,” says Ellie. “Meditation is a dynamic practice that uses the brain to bring your mind to a single thing, like the breath or a mantra.”
2. Consider what you need in the present moment. Are you stressed about a work project your boss threw on you at the last minute? Annoyed with a roommate who never does the dishes? Sad about how a sib treated you at a recent family gathering?
“We’re often encountering things throughout our day that make us feel stressed or ungrounded, whether a fight with a lover or an angry email from a boss,” states Ellie. “Setting aside time to bring your mind to something as simple as the breath can be enormously helpful to deal with discomfort and recenter yourself. If you don’t have a meditation practice, you can simply take three deep breaths — in through the nose, out through the mouth — to calm [your] nervous system. The breath is an anchor for calm.”
3. Dress comfortably. It’s harder to channel zen in an itchy sweater or too-tight leggings. “‘What do I wear?’ That’s the question we get asked most often. Here’s the answer: Wear something you’re comfortable sitting in. For some, that’s jeans or yoga pants, for others a dress or skirt (we probably wouldn’t recommend the mini kind!),” offers Ellie.
4. Take a moment to relax into your body. “Elongate your spine, extending your body upward. Drop your hands at your side. Then, picking them up from the elbows, drop them palms-down on your thighs. Your head rests at the top of your spine, and you can tuck in your chin very slightly. In shamatha (calm-abiding) meditation, the object of our focus is the breath. We are learning to be present with the breath, so that later we can be more present with the rest of our lives,” shares Lodro.
5. Have a soothing tea or refreshing glass of water. Before you start meditating, a nice ritual to slink into an easier state of mind is sipping on a caffeine-free tea or indulging in an infused water (cucumber-mint H2O, anyone?). It will help you shift your focus away from the day’s happenings and go into a more reflective zone.
“We always offer tea and water on the house. [If you’re meditating at a studio], feel free to arrive early to gently settle into the space. Meditation is gentle — New York City isn’t — so we want to make sure the transition in and out of our space is as smooth as possible,” says Ellie.
6. Tune in to the natural cycle of your breathing. “When you notice that a large thought has distracted you, exercise gentleness by silently saying ‘thinking’ to yourself. Use this word as a reminder that what you really want to do is be with the breath. Then return to your breathing and the present moment,” suggests Lodro.
(Photos via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com