ANZA Member Melissa Johnston offers an easy exercise to get that biggest of muscles working; your mind.
So what is mindfulness? It’s essentially boot camp for the mind; it enables individuals to find focus and calm in the craziness of the everyday.
When you go to the gym you lift weights to build muscle; you do star-jumps to build fitness. With mindfulness you undertake practice to train your mind (it is a muscle after all).
Mindfulness has many layers, so let’s start by just considering one. What do you do when someone in your team misses a deadline? When you get a rude email from a colleague? When you are reprimanded by your boss? When the sales pitch you have worked on for days is rejected? React, right?
As human beings, we are conditioned to do this. A reaction is driven from deep in our subconscious – so we don’t even think about it before we do it. We experience and we react. Hands up if you’ve fired off an angry reply to a rude email only to regret your reaction immediately.
When we react, we don’t always create the outcomes we desire. And it can become a vicious cycle – your angry email triggers a ruder email from your colleague that you react to… and so on.
In comes mindfulness. If we can train our minds we can turn our reactions into responses by creating space.
How? You remember your parents telling you when you were little to count to 10 and take a breath? We don’t always have the patience but it’s a concept to reintroduce. Mindfulness doesn’t happen overnight; just like going to the gym, it takes time to see results.
Remember, this is about focus and calm. It is hard to deny the benefits – whether you are a stay-at-home parent, a small business owner or a high-flying corporate type we can all benefit from being more mindful.
If you feel like making a start on your journey, take a look at the simple exercise. For more info, check out the Search Inside Yourself Institute and book (siyli.org) or connect with the ANZA Wandering Yogis for more practice options.
This practice is designed to just run over a couple of minutes. Two minutes a day will still help to train your mind.
Begin by getting into a comfortable seated position. Ensure you’re relaxed, but still alert. You can be on a chair or on the floor… just find a spot and body position that works for you.
Now take three slow and deep breaths; in through your nose and out through your mouth. These are deliberate breaths while you bring your attention away from everything around you and onto your breathing.
Continue to just breathe naturally. In and out… but take time to become conscious of your breathing. Can you find the space between the end of your ‘in’ breath and the start of your ‘out’? Just focus… if you find your mind wandering that is ok. Be aware and consciously bring your mind back to your breathing.
Think of this exercise as a way to rest your mind. Breathe in and out… visualise somewhere peaceful and keep focusing on your breathing. Relax.
When you are ready to end this practice, remain focused and say these affirmations in your mind. “(‘In’ breath) I am calm; (‘Out’ breath) I am happy.”