We all probably use Google Maps or some GPS type tool on our phones, cars or computers to make sure we don’t get lost but how many of us spend too much of our lives lost in thought? Do you? For many of us living a sedentary desk bound work lifestyle, the most exercise we get is our mind running away with us with thoughts of worry, fear or anxiety trying to deal with things that either happened years ago or things that have not happened yet and likely will never happen. Either that or leaping to conclusions about people’s intentions or other things we can never truly know for certain and as such are way better off not worrying about in the precious time we get to live our lives today. The mind tends to drift into assumptions and conclusions about people including about our past and our future. When things happen that provoke fear or anger in us we tend to quickly react like typing a tweet, post or text in anger without taking time to consider the possible reason we are upset or potential of our not understanding whatever it was that upset us. This is part of a reactionary, mindless type of living which doesn’t allow us to operate at peak performance and achieve our goals in life each day.
So, what we’re going to do instead is exercise something called “Mindfulness”. Our mind is always full of one thought or feeling of another. It is constantly working only sometimes left to its own devices it’s working against us running bad “code” old obsolete thoughts about how capable we are or how the world thinks about us what is possible in life. So we want to become aware of our thoughts but not be owned by them. We don’t want to be driven around by a driver we don’t know to a destination we don’t want!
So, this Mindhack is called Becoming Mindful and practicing mindfulness. One way we train our brain to become mindful is through focusing on each breath we take. This is a type of meditation technique we can practice almost anytime during our day. We take time throughout our day to pause what we are doing. Then take a deep long slow breath in and then exhale slowly and while doing so focus your attention on each breath. Feel the air going into your lungs and your chest rising and falling with each breath.
And as you do this mindful focused breathing in and out pay attention to the thoughts that come to mind, to your feelings, to the things you hear around you, to the feeling of your thighs against the chair and anything and everything you can. Once you notice it acknowledge it as a “thought” or a “feeling” and then gently remind yourself to come back to your breath and focus on your next breath in slowly and then out slowly. “Back to my breath” you tell yourself and repeat this process as more thoughts come up which they will! This trains your brain to become more and more ware and mindful so your thoughts won’t run away with you as much! You begin to become more aware of when your mind is drifting into automatic mode and that awareness gives you the opportunity to become present in the moment again using the mindhack of focusing your attention on your breathing.
Once you are in the moment, you can choose to refocus your attention on your goals for the moment or the day or your feelings or your musings about life. At the point where you are present you are in control and can choose your next thought and action and that is a much more powerful positive place to operate one’s life from than reacting to the latest upsetting thing someone out there says or does.
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You do not have to sit with your legs crossed to be mindful or meditate. You can practice this just about anywhere and anytime. Even one conscious breath in and out mindful of the present moment is a meditation. As your thoughts and feelings drift in and out do not judge them as bad or in any other way simply take note of them and gently remind yourself to come “back to the breath” and return your focus to your slow steady breath. This slow focused breathing calms your mind and central nervous system by slowing your heart rate. There are many positive benefits to mindfulness.