August 15, 2016
There’s no shortage of advice available to people looking to improve productivity. Unfortunately, most of this advice is based on nothing more than personal experience and wishful thinking. One technique that has been thoroughly researched and verified through studies is the practice of mindfulness. It has been shown to produce physical changes to the brain, and increase introspection, pain tolerance, critical thinking skills, and emotional regulation.
Mindfulness is simply a form of meditation that you can use to gain control of your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Imagine your brain is a room of jumbled thoughts, distractions, negative emotions, and impulses. It’s a noisy, stressful environment that feels impossible to control. Sometimes you just want to shut it down entirely. A few minutes of mindfulness meditation each day is basically like sending an emotional and mental housekeeper in to clean things up.
Unlike other forms of meditation, in which you might visualize yourself in a serene location or achieve some state of transcendence, mindfulness meditation works just as its name suggests. You simply focus on the present. What are you thinking and feeling right now? Examine your emotions and thoughts objectively, and honestly with no judgment.
If you are interested in practicing mindfulness meditation, you can. In fact, anybody can, no matter how busy their schedule is. Here are some techniques that you can use to build mindfulness into your daily schedule.
Find a Positive Affirmation And Repeat it to Yourself
It’s difficult to be happy or productive when there is a stream of negative thoughts and ongoing dialogue in your mind. One way to combat this is through mindfulness. Choose a short, positive affirmation that you can repeat to yourself over and over again. ‘I am resilient’ is a good one to start with.
If you need help focusing on this task, you can use a tool such as Quiet Kit. Repeating a positive and affirming statement over and over again silences the negative thoughts. You also gain the benefits of hearing that positive statement in your mind multiple times.
Take a Walk And Empty Your Mind
How many times have you taken a walk while you think through your problems? When you practice mindfulness, you do the opposite. As you walk, clear your mind of everything else, by focusing intently on the process of walking. Become aware of how your leg extends, how your foot hits the ground, even the sound of leaves beneath your feet. Notice how your arms swing.
Next, focus on your environment. Feel the breeze moving your hair and the heat of the sun on your skin. You can apply this technique to almost any activity. Eat a meal and focus on tasting, chewing, smelling, and the satisfying feeling of fullness that comes on. Focusing this much on the present will help your clear your mind better than anything.
It always seems like a dumb, obvious suggestion. But if you take a few minutes to focus on nothing but your breathing, you’ll be on your way to mindful living in no time. Sit in a comfortable chair with your legs uncrossed. Now, do nothing but breathe slowly and steadily. Feel your chest fill with air and your stomach rising and falling with each breath. What does the air feel like when it enters your nose and moves down your windpipe?
Mindfulness techniques are very helpful when your mind is chaotic and your stress levels are at critical mass. They are even more helpful when you use them before the storm hits. Don’t wait for a bad moment or a bad day to practice mindfulness. Instead, make daily mindfulness meditation a priority.
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