It’s 8 a.m. on Monday morning and you have settled in at your desk to prioritize your day. With your top three important tasks clearly outlined, you dive into the first project. Before you even realize it has happened your mind has wandered away from what you are working on. You find yourself thinking about the school function you need to attend this evening and you can’t forget to leave work on time. You remember the promise you made to a co-worker to get them a report yesterday. You wonder how your Mom is doing as you haven’t called her yet this week…and this is just in the first few minutes of your day.
So, now I ask you: Do you have a busy mind?
As a mother, wife, and business owner I struggle with what I like to call “Monkey Brain.” My head is so full of thoughts, feelings, and to-do lists similar to a monkey the way that it jumps around in my head from one thing to another and back again.
Research on brain science estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2500-3000 thoughts per hour. That’s incredible! These thoughts are happening automatically, yet we do have the ability to slow them down.
I would like to share with you how I intentionally quiet my mind for more peace, better focus, and the ability to be present.
First, you simply need to make the time to stop and take a break. This is the only way to train the mind to quiet down. You may think, as I used to, that you are too busy to do this. You are behind; you have a pressing deadline; you feel overwhelmed. In times of extreme pressure it is even more important to stop.
Try this simple exercise to calm your mind:
- Find a Quiet Spot. Go where you won’t be interrupted for 10 minutes. Be assured these 10 minutes will not be wasted – in fact you will triple them in productivity.
- Make Yourself Comfortable. Take a comfortable position – you can be sitting up or lying down. Close your eyes.
- Breathe. Start with three deep cleansing breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Are you breathing properly? When you breathe in you should feel your chest and abdomen expanding, and when you breathe out expel all of the air out like a collapsed balloon. If this is difficult, place you hand on your stomach and you should feel the stomach rise with your in breath and flatten with your exhale. It helps me to count the breaths – in for a count of 4, hold for 2, out for a count of 8.
- Open your senses to the sounds around you. Listen, differentiate and name to yourself three different sounds that you hear. Take your time. Now open your physical senses. Feel your body where it touches the surface you are sitting on – your seat heavy on the chair, your arms resting on your lap. Do the same process with all five senses, taking your time to thoughtfully focus on each one.
- Let Go. Now simply let go and let your brain rest for a moment, doing whatever it wants to do. Then bring your focus back to your breathing, ending the exercise with three more cleansing breaths.
Though we can’t eliminate the thousands of thoughts that go through our head each day, we do have the power to train our brain to rest and focus. By taking time to calm your mind, you can eliminate your monkey brain and get back to the task at hand.
Train your mind to be calm and you will increase your focus and productivity.
“To the mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.” – Lao Tuzla