3 Exercises to Focus Your Mind
The Power of Presence
Any and all humans are susceptible to the incessant chatter of the mind. Add school, business or any other responsibility and that chatter grows from a split conversation to a whole town meeting. If you are trying to do eight things at once, dreading or projecting their outcomes, how can you even come close to performing the current task at your full potential? Herein lies the power of presence.
Meditation. 90% of people have heard the word, a portion of those maybe have even adopted the courage to sit down and quiet their thoughts, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that upon sitting down, your experience went as follows. You sit down and think to yourself, “Stop thinking, stop thinking. No thoughts. Blank. This is really uncomfortable. Did I lock the door? Ah!”
It’s so common! My experience guiding meditation has shown me that the fear of that experience itself is what keeps people from centering their focus and calming their mind. I am here to debunk your story and offer a few tips that will give you power in the present moment.
Meditation can happen anytime that you are focusing on one thing and one thing only. That thing does not have to be bliss but can be your talk that you are writing, the conversation you are having or even the food that you are eating.
Here are 3 Exercises to Focus Your Mind (and Grow Your Business):
- Try taking a bite of next meal and notice everything about the experience. Notice the rush of flavors as you chew, delight in the pleasure hormones your brain releases. As you swallow, feel the chewed up food move down the throat, following it as far down as you can. That is a meditation.
You cannot control your brain but you can train it. The brain is a rabid dog at times that runs wildly eating up all of your good intentions. Try to tell yourself to think a certain thought or feel a specific emotion and take notice of the pop up bubble that says, “yeah, but what if it doesn’t work?”, “mm.. that is a great thought but it’s probably not true”. Do not fret, like a wild dog, it can be tamed. When those negative thoughts do start to appear, you have the power to direct them back to where they belong.
- When you are working on something and a thought raids your focus, write it down. Make a note to come back to it. Take a breathe. Refocus on your current task. Resume. (You may have to do this 100 times when you begin but after a while you will notice the thoughts interrupt less and less).
Practice reassuring yourself of the power of presence. A huge part of fear, whether it is public speaking or handing in your final project, is imaginary future projections. We create huge, disastrous events in our mind from things as small as typing on a piece of paper. Will people really boo you? Not likely. Will your teacher tear up your paper in a flurry of disgust? Improbable. You cannot control what happens in the future, you only have control of what you do at this exact moment. Your teacher is not shredding any reports in this moment so bring your focus to what does matter right now because what you are doing at this exact moment is not hard.
- Break it down. Is walking into an office hard? No. Is putting together a sentence terrifying? NO! Presenting a concept and conducting an interview is just that. Rather than projecting a situation into an event, focus on each small part that makes up that event and remind yourself of the power that you have in the present.
Mind Yoga: Master Your Mind, Master Your Life
Everyone is faced with challenges and obstacles throughout their lives and on their path to fulfillment, happiness and success. It’s not what happens to us in life that determines our outcomes, but rather how we respond to what happens to us. Having a knee-jerk emotional reaction to the challenges in life can create disappointing results. When we take a moment to process these challenges, and “choose” an appropriate response, we are more likely to make a wise decision.
In the human brain, when we have stress and experience the emotion of fear, our body sends out a massive amount of adrenaline into our system. This actually shuts down our logical thinking frontal lobe. Therefore, when fear rises, intelligence plummets. When you look back, can you match some of your worst decisions with a highly emotional state?
Meditation is a practice where you learn to “observe” your thoughts and emotions. As you do this, you can slowly begin to detach and analyze them so that you can slow down and make better decisions. The longer you meditate, the more that you’ll realize that while you can “have” emotions, you don’t need to “be” your emotions. This is a powerful distinction that builds your emotional intelligence.
We practice emotional intelligence when we allow ourselves to feel an emotion and then choose how we want to process and respond to that emotion. This allows us to create a more proactive response. The quality of our life depends on the quality of our perspective. When we are open-minded and willing to put our ego to one side, we can change the way we look at our life’s challenges. Meditation gives you the flexibility to change your perspective on life’s events.
A small adjustment in perspective may give you the power to make a dramatic and positive change in your life’s experiences.
Achieve Mental Strength
We are constantly bombarded with negative messages from the world. If we let these messages control and affect our own thoughts, then we too are letting the outside world control our thoughts. We end up having thoughts which are not actually ours. They are the thoughts of our culture, our society and of our environment. If you have any contact whatsoever with the daily news, internet news, newspapers of any kind or radio, you will be continually attacked with messages of negativity and fear. One would think that the world was always coming to an end! Unfortunately, disaster and bad news sells.
Creative and successful people have learned to monitor, control and choose their thoughts. This requires mental strength and mental discipline. They choose thoughts that support their visions and their dreams. They discard thoughts that are fear-based, negative and unproductive. This makes them original thinkers, innovators and leaders. Meditation is an effective practice for learning mental discipline.
It always amazes me how many people have discipline in so many areas of their life (their diet, their fitness and their schedule); however, few people practice any form of mental discipline – which is what really determines the outcomes and results that we have. The quality of your thoughts, determines the quality of your life.
Master your mind and you master your life! Successful, happy and balanced people have mental discipline, mental flexibility and mental strength. Just as your yoga practice helps you to create physical strength and flexibility, meditation assists you in developing mental flexibility and strength. When practiced with patience and persistence, meditation is the tool that will help you to master these areas as well.