I recently learnt a mind-training exercise that made me realise how many irrelevant thoughts we have every day and how easy it is to get stuck in them.
In this article I want to share this technique with you.
I’ve been doing a lot of meditation lately (between 1 and 2 hours every day) and I’ve noticed incredible results:
- I’m able to focus much better. My productivity has increased as I am able to concentrate for longer periods of time on a single task.
- Emotionally, I don’t get caught in unnecessary drama. I am aware of what’s going inside me, of what I need, of what my priorities are.
- Even in the most difficult situations I’m able to see the bigger picture and have a general feeling of calmness and inner peace.
- This doesn't mean I'm happy 24/7, of course I have bad moments, but I know I have the tools to deal with them, and I don’t get stuck in potential future catastrophic scenarios or blaming past events like I used to do before.
- I sleep much better, and if I skip my meditation session for more than one day, I clearly notice that my mind is more hyper active and it takes longer to fall asleep.
- I’m able to enjoy the 'here and now', not worrying about the future and not dwelling on negative past experiences.
- I feel more connected with myself and my higher self, discerning more easily what it’s my highest interest and what is not.
You don't need to do 2 hours of meditation every day to notice results, though!
When I started meditating years ago, even doing 5-10 minutes a day had a huge impact on my mindset.
As part of a Qi Gong and Nei Gong training program I’m doing, which covers different mental training and meditations techniques, I learnt a new exercise that I’ve found extremely useful.
This exercise is not mediation, it is training for the mind. The best thing is that you can practise any time you want (when you’re on the tube, queuing or cooking!) in short bursts of time.
Although ideally, and especially at the beginning, it would be better to set some time aside to focus entirely on the exercise.
Follow these simple steps:
- Go to a place where you know you won’t be disturbed.
- Turn-off any notifications/devices that might interrupt your exercise.
- Sit in stillness, either cross-legged or on a chair, whatever is comfortable for you.
- Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and increase the time as you get comfortable with the exercise.
- Many different thoughts will arise, that’s normal and to be expected!
- Here is the key: choose the thoughts that you want to feed. If there any irrelevant thoughts (anything that doesn’t belong to the here and now is irrelevant), cut them. Say no, visualise them going and don’t feed the chain.
- If the thought is relevant (for example: I can hear a bird singing), stay with it for a few seconds and let it go.
The mind is always looking for stimuli, that’s why when you sit in stillness and you’re not doing any activity, it will start creating thoughts (sometimes very random and silly ones!).
Every thought is a seed, and we can decide whether we want to feed it or move on to the next thought.
And guess what? If we choose to feed and give attention to negative thoughts the mind will create more of those!
So it’s kind of a spiral, the more you feed the negative thoughts, the more your mind will create.
By practising this exercise regularly you can become aware of your thoughts and train your mind to be in the here and now, which has endless benefits like the ones I described above.
It’s also a good idea to do some journaling after this exercise to reflect on any repeating thoughts or patterns. You can use the following journaling prompts for self-discovery:
- How did I feel doing the exercise?
- Was it easier or more difficult than expected?
- What type of thoughts surprised me?
- How are my thoughts impacting my decisions, actions and what I experience in life?
Try adding this exercise to your morning or bedtime routine and let me know how it goes!
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