This Simple Technique Used by Tons of High Performers Can Change Your Life
Leverage the Power of Mindfulness
When interviewed, the majority of today’s world class performers (executives, entrepreneuers, athletes, and military), point to mindfulness practices as one of, if not their most important daily tool.
When I first started meditating, I found that it wasn’t nearly as easy as it sounded. All this talk of sitting still in thoughtless reflection was completely lost on me.
That was always my perception of what meditation was. To say I was merely wrong would be an understatement.
If I had to name one thing that has had the biggest overall impact on every aspect of my life, it would be a daily meditation practice. It has helped me in so many aspects of my life and made a big difference in my interactions with family and friends.
In my opinion, you cannot be taught how to meditate. It is something that must be experienced in your own way and on your own terms. Sure, you can be guided and shown some techniques, but you must commit to your own regular practice to really learn.
Meditation can be many different things to different people, and you must find out what works for you for it to truly be effective.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of present awareness.
It is being aware of anything going on inside your body (feelings, sensations, emotions, thoughts, etc.), and also anything external (sights, sounds, smells, conversations, someone’s body language or tone, etc.), without judging or trying to change those things.
Mindfulness can also be described as being in the moment.
Here are a few simple but effective ways to start this journey.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Committing to a daily mindfulness practice can do many great things. One thing to remember is that to experience all of these benefits, you must practice frequently. I recommend spending at least 15 minutes a day with some type of mindfulness.
Here are some of the many benefits of practicing mindfulness.
- Strengthens immune system
- Decreases stress and anxiety
- Increases your ability to concentrate and focus
- Helps you process negative emotions
- Positively alters your brain structure and the neural pathways
- Decreases depression
- Increases working memory and creativity
- Increases emotions like compassion and empathy
- Reduces chronic pain
- Improves sleep
- Lowers blood pressure
- Helps cope with cravings and addictions
- Supports weight loss
There are many more benefits to mindfulness. Overall it can help us to be better at almost everything. These benefits extend way beyond when we are actively practicing the techniques.
No matter who you are, your age, beliefs or profession, I guarantee you will benefit from mindfulness.
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. Whether it is taking 10-20 minutes a day to sit in a quiet place and meditate, or just being mindful during certain activities during the day(eating, walking, etc.). It is necessary to give your mind that time to recharge.
Just like the name suggests, this involves being aware of and watching your breath.
You can do this meditation sitting, standing, walking or even while lying down. For some people it may not be a good idea to lie down because you may have a tendency to fall asleep.
Lets try it.
If you are sitting, start by closing your eyes. If you are walking, you should probably leave your eyes open.
Take a couple deep breaths, making sure you are bringing the air all the way in. If your stomach is rising with each inhale, you are doing it right.
Now just breathe normally. Notice where you feel your breath the most. It could be the rise and fall of your stomach, your chest or the sensation of the air entering and leaving through your nose.
Keep your attention focused on this area of your body. Don’t worry if your mind starts to wander and think about other things. When then happens, just notice the thought, then gently return your attention to the breath.
You can do this for the duration of your exercise, or after practicing this for a few minutes, you can move on to the body scan exercise.
No matter what type of meditation I’m doing, I almost always start with breath awareness to get focused and present.
The body scan meditation is a great way to check in with you body and develop more awareness of what is going on.
Once you have done the breath awareness for a few minutes, shift your focus to the top of your head.
Notice any sensations or feelings there.
Slowly move to your forehead, face, ears, back of the head, mouth and neck. We are just checking in with our body and being aware of it.
When you notice something, don’t try to change it, just notice it. Notice any places where you feel tension, numbness or pain. After you notice it, just move on to the next part.
Slowly scan your whole body this way all the way down to your toes. Try to breathe in to each area as you go feeling these places relax and become soft.
After you get to your toes, try to expand your awareness to your whole body. Then check in with any of those areas you had tightness, pain or tension. See if it has lessened any.
Once you do this a few times, it will really relax you and help you be more mindful of anything you are feeling throughout the day. I have noticed that if I do this before bed, I am able to relax and fall asleep much easier, sometimes falling asleep before I even get half way through my body.
You can do this as fast or as slow as you want. I find the most benefit though the slower I go.
Check out the video below to be walked through the breath awareness and body scan.
Mindful walking is is something you can do any time you are walking. All you have to do is be aware of yourself and your surroundings in the present moment.
While walking, start by noticing the feeling of your feel impacting against the ground. Be aware of how the terrain feels under your feet and also the sensations in your feet, ankles, knees and hips. Keep your awareness on this for a few minutes.
Next, switch your awareness to the environment around you. Notice the feeling of the wind against your skin. Be aware of any smells or sounds around you. Pay attention to the green of any plants around you and any vibrant colors that you see. Try to use all of your senses at the same time.
After you do this for a few minutes, switch back to your inner awareness. I usually switch back and forth for the duration of the walk spending a few minutes at a time on each thing.
Check out the video below about mindful walking.
To many people today just inhale their food with savoring or even really tasting it. When we do this we are missing some much of the pleasure we can derive from food.
Mindful eating can tell us so much about the effect the food is having on our body. If we are present and aware when eating we realize sooner than usual that we are getting full and can keep from eating more than we need.
Before you start to eat, take a few deep breaths noticing where you feel the breaths in your body.
As you are eating, notice the smell, taste, and texture of every bite. See if you can notice different flavors of spices or ingredients. Make sure to chew every bite fully, and when you you swallow, see if you can feel the food making its down to your stomach.
Notice any sensations in your body as you are eating. This can be really helpful to identify any foods that cause issues for your body. Once you practice this a few time, you will start noticing things about different food that you had no clue about before.
Check out our article about eating healthy at work that has some more tips on mindful eating here.
I hope you enjoyed this article and can start to use some of these techniques daily.