Our world is anything but still; it has a constant flow of energy and movement. We see this everyday, this energy that is our oxygen; it’s in our work, our friends, our family and the constantly changing, complex and demanding world we are making our way through.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s difficult for us to really give our mind and body real quality time and space for our own self-development. And this is development outside of the reasons such as, we’re doing something because society tells us to or it’s expected of us. This is strange, considering we live in a world of constant change and development. Why don’t we give our inner selves the same level of care and respect as we do for our education or careers? In between climbing that career ladder or perhaps navigating the dating scene within “society’s expectations”, I think it’s too easy to lose a sense of what we truly want and therefore how to get it. We end up focusing all of our energy on other people, other expectations and obstacles outside of our control. It’s so important to give ourselves some 1 on 1 time in order to strengthen both our mind and body before we look to what’s outside of ourselves.
“change is constant, change is inevitable.”
In my experience, personal development is the first step to change and can unearth missing confidence or a belief in your own ability; it can even spark a fresh perspective on your current focus and direction in life. So whether it is for work, family, life, sports, therapy or even coaching and training, giving yourself attention is a healthy way of being successful in whichever aspect it is you need to focus on.
Recently I received a “crash course” in Buddhist meditation and it has been one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had this year. The process of meditation allows you to focus on having a still and relaxed mindset outside of the chaotic and stressful lives we lead. In knowing that meditation is a conscious effort to change how the mind works, I think it is a great way to assist in self-development early on. It can be beneficial to people feeling a bit lost, lacking in a focus or goal, as well as for general alignment of the mind and body. In meditation, the key to doing this is through emptying the mind – giving you time separated from any self-talk, distracting thoughts and emotions that typically clutter your mind during a normal day.
I’ve found meditation a great way of learning how to block out my surroundings when I’ve really needed to, regardless of how loud and invasive they may be. It may take some time, but the more you practice the technique the easier it will be to get rid of those distractions. We can’t control other people, so it can be really healthy to learn how to block external influences from our minds when it’s necessary.
Personally I have found meditation, particularly combined with tai chi or yoga and similar meditative movements very rewarding, both mentally and physically. There may be some debate scientifically as to “how it works” but there is a multitude of different research (some probably more legitimate than others but both helpful or enjoyable to read), which supports the effectiveness of meditation for both mental and physical health.
If you could avoid feeling flustered before heading to an interview, less stressed over a looming deadline or no longer overwhelmed by your never-ending list of things to do, that would be great, wouldn’t it? Think of how refreshed your thinking could be, how relaxed and calm you could feel. Now, imagine that feeling every day. There is a lot of power in meditation and it can be very rewarding to install this into part of your daily routine and make it less hectic than it has to be. The following is an outline of how from my experience meditation can form a really positive mindset and in fulfilling this at the beginning of the day can put your mind and body into the right place for the day ahead.
Create time for you – it’s okay to be selfish sometimes.
The hardest step is saying yes to you. At the end of the day we all want to say yes to others but in doing this first step you’d possibly be in a much better frame of mind to do that. Time is so often viewed as a limit on what can be achieved in an hour, a day or a week, it would be nice to let it just happen instead.
Close your eyes and breathe – be aware of yourself.
It’s ridiculous how different breathing feels when you are completely aware of how and when you’re doing it. When I am wholly focusing on my breathing I am already on my way to leaving the worries of the world outside and feel so much calmer for it. Why do you think people tell you to take a breath when you’re angry and tense – it really does work to relax you! So take away the TV remote and turn your phone to do-not-disturb. Focus on the inside because that’s where your control truly lies.
I like to find a quiet space at home, sit down cross-legged (and if you can I advise taking your socks off too). I want you to become aware of your breathing and really start to focus on just doing that. Taking a long breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth for three times as long. Do this a minimum of 3 times to start clearing the mind and let this process run for the whole of your session.
Empty your mind – sit down and shut up! (The less you think the better.)
As you are sitting there, breathing in and breathing out, begin extending that concentration to being 100% still from your head to your toes. You are so still that no thoughts, sounds or distractions are able to enter you mind – and if they do, your only aim is to remove them and return to being still both in and out. The more still your body is, the more still your mind can be and the more relaxed you will be. It’s like listening to a speaker, the more still they are when they speak, the more still the audience is and more the audience really listens to the words being said. So the more relaxed you become, the quicker and easier it will be able to access stillness every time you devote some ‘you-time’ to yourself. Ideally I would suggest to put aside 30 minutes every day but even if you can only manage 5 minutes, then that works too!
You may find that the longer you practice for, the deeper you’ll get into your relaxation and the easier it will be to empty your mind and remove the conscious mind from your thoughts. Resulting of course in a better and fuller experience every time.
With a better sense of self we can reflect on our behaviour with a new perspective. I believe a calmer physiology leads to a more rational, controlled state and behaviour, which in reality really supports our mind and body as a united self. What if you could gain calm and confidence before an interview, if you could de-clutter your mind to focus on the right tasks in support of meeting a stressful deadline or have an overwhelming list of things to do. Imagine the possibilities in accessing this peaceful state when you’d least expect to be able to, when you’re waiting to go into a meeting or picking up the kids from school.
More than anything, by bringing this element of calm and stillness to your every day life, you won’t be using this time to simply have a time-out any more; it will become a part of you and your new self.