To follow-up on my previous post on mindfulness, last week I took part in a public speaking and training event in the beautiful Pyrenees mountains of Spain, just north of Barcelona. It was organized by Florian Mueck and Evgueni Talal. I participated in several workshops, including one on mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that allows you to empty your mind and reset your brain. It’s a way to develop a state of inner peace and stillness – a union of body and mind. Whether you meditate for 10 or 20 minutes a day, mindfulness is a personal practice that leads to better performance, greater happiness and reduced stress.
I would like to share with you two simple, but effective mindfulness techniques that I practiced in Spain. These two techniques, which can be done in ten minutes, can help quiet your mind and leave you feeling refreshed and focused.
- Breathing: Sit in a comfortable crossed-leg position or any other comfortable position with your back straight. You can also sit in a chair. With eyes closed, keep all your attention on your breathing. Slowly, breath in through your nose and feel your lungs expand. When your lungs are full, hold your breath for a few seconds and then slowly breath the air out with pursed lips and feel your lungs deflate. Hold for a few seconds and breath in again to repeat the cycle. Breath at a rythm that is comfortable for you and keep focusing on your breath.
- Mind control: This exercise is done after the breathing. The goal is to stop all thoughts from entering your mind. Breathing is not the main focus anymore, though a comfortable and calm breathing pattern should be maintained. Here are two variations:
(a) Sit in the same comfortable position as above and close your eyes. Breath normally and calmly. As soon as you feel a thought coming in ask the question: “What is my next thought?” Keep asking yourself this same question as soon as you feel a thought coming in and you will have no thoughts – your mind will remain still.
(b) Position yourself as above and close your eyes. Breath normally and calmly. Imagine a train in your field of vision and you’re standing outside the train. As soon as you feel a thought coming in, put the thought into the train. The train can take off and another one can come in or it can stay the entire time in your field of vision. It’s whatever works for you. This technique will stop a train of thoughts and your mind will be kept still.
This morning, after I got out of bed, I did ten minutes of breathing and mind control followed by ten minutes of Pilates/yoga stretches. What a great way to start a new day!
There are many ways to practice mindfulness besides those mentioned above. With regular practice, the benefits are palpable. You feel more aware, more alert and more calm. It makes you more resilient and capable of managing your thoughts and emotions.
Ed Halliwell, teacher and writer, explains how mindfulness can help you perform and cope with the demands at work. For instance, it can help you focus more on compassion instead of competition, service instead of sales or artistry instead of agression. Whether you work or not, mindfulness can bring positive changes to your life.
Many thanks to Evgueni, a dedicated practitioner of mindfulness, for his helpful tips and advice on the techniques mentioned above.