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.
How to Tell If You’re Being Controlled by Your Mind or Intellect
We make decisions every day. These decisions can fall under a few categories: ones we feel good about, ones we feel badly about, and ones that don’t make us feel anything.
The decisions we make can make our lives heaven or hell to live in because everything in this world is subject to the law of cause and effect, also known as the Law of Causation. We know what happens when we decide to drink too much alcohol one night. The next morning, we feel sick, tired, and most likely have a headache.
We won’t be able to function optimally and we suffer. Yet, even with this knowledge of the effect, people still decide to drink too much alcohol all too often. In order to understand why people do this to themselves, we have to break down the types of equipment we have as humans and better understand their functions. These understandings come from Vedanta: the ancient teachings of yoga as described in the Bhagavad Gita.
As humans, we are made up of matter and spirit. Spirit is the consciousness that gives rise to our matter. Spirit is your highest Truth. Without Spirit, there would be no matter. Our matter is comprised of three types of equipment; the body, the mind, and the intellect. The body is, of course, your physical manifestation with your organs, limbs, skin, bones, etc. This is what makes you tangible. Your mind is defined by Vedanta as the home of all your emotions like love, hate, anger, jealousy, joy, etc. It is also the home of your desires, likes, and dislikes.
Your mind is where your preferences live. And lastly, your intellect, your third and most important equipment is your ability to be objective and discern what is truth and what isn’t true based on knowledge and wisdom. Your intellect is the mature reasonable part of you that can question and think for itself when there’s adversity and when others are imposing their opinions and ideas on you. Your intellect stays centered regardless of the chaos happening externally.