“Attitude is everything” and your attitude is a direct result of the thoughts you think and believe everyday. What we now know is that you can control your mind and your thoughts to reconfigure your brain wiring. This is called “neuroplasticity”. The same way you can sculpt the muscles on your body, you can sculpt your mind to be powerful and strong, or loving and compassionate. It simply requires time and dedication the same as exercising your body would.
Here are some exercises to help you achieve mindfulness:
Mindful Exercise #1: Yoga
You may think yoga is mostly about stretching. While stretching is part of the practice, the magic of yoga is the focus on breath to move through self-imposed limitations. As you practice, you start to hear your mind crying, “that’s too much. I can’t do that. What am I doing here?” Basically saying anything to get you out of the intensity of the present moment.
The more you practice it becomes a little better each time. You stay steady with your intent, focus a little more on your breath; you release deeper with every exhale. The awareness starts to grow and mindfulness trickles over into your everyday life before you notice.
We all know how relaxing sitting on the beach gazing out over the ocean as well listening to the waves crashing on shore; or walking through the woods gazing at humongous trees. Contemplation in nature is the original form of meditation. Being in nature it is far easier to quiet the mind and become aware of our monkey mind chatter.
So many people say “meditation doesn’t work for me”, “I can’t stop thinking or quiet my mind” Well that’s the point! So actually that means it IS working since they noticed how much their mind was thinking-THAT’S mindfulness! You can choose from many different styles of meditation, find one (or many) that you like best.
Open Focus – It is a process of relaxing your focus to an empty space in your body. Transcendental (TM) – The claimed advantage of TM is that an amateur can reach the same state as a master within weeks of starting the practice. Repeat a simple chant, distracting the mind long enough for consciousness to emerge.
Vipassana – This form of meditation has you focus on your breath as it passes through your nostrils. Gradually, you expand this awareness to your whole body.
LVK Meditation – Focus on all the love and kindness in your heart while loving the world so much that your mind can’t handle it anymore. This will result in your heart expanding and leading your mind.
Guided – Guided meditations are a great way to start. A vocal guide will lead you through the entire meditation so all you have to do is relax and follow along.
Biofeedback – One of the recent styles is using a biofeedback device. This measures brainwave activity and plugs into a computer or iPhone app. With this data you can see exactly how well you are actually calming your mind.
Dance is a universal cultural phenomenon. In ceremonial dance, dancing is the vehicle to induce a deep trancelike state. In “ecstatic dancing”, participants are encouraged to move freely with their body, surrendering to the music. Some movements may not even look like things we would consider “dancing”. Once you release the mind from concerning itself with how you look, your body comes alive. Every cell seems to wake up and the mind takes a huge step back.
Floatation (Sensory Deprivation)
Floatation tanks, also known as sensory deprivation tanks, eliminate all external sensory input (sight, sound, smell, etc) therefore tricking the mind into quieting into a hypnotic meditation like state.
Breathwork or Hyperoxygenation
Kundalini yoga (breathwork) practice has been around for thousands of years, but now another form of breathing practice was developed. “Holotropic breathing” – or Shamanic breathing – works by creating a temporary excess of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen goes into the brain, suppressing normal thought patterns and allowing consciousness to emerge. These practices are best in a guided setting with trained practitioners for maximum effect.
Numerous cultures from around the world have utilized the tradition of fasting to clear the mind and body. Although challenging at first, people report having extreme clarity from fasting.
Make the Choice
Ultimately, YOU are in control of YOUR mind. As much as you would like to think otherwise, you really are the boss. If you want to still your mind, CHOOSE to still your mind. It’s a powerful move we always have available, but often overlook its full potential.