The world can feel like a crushing storm. This storm pounds us with the winds of change and drowns us in a flood of information overload. We live in a state of always on, and always on guard. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of this storm and let it eat away at us until we are tired, jaded, and maybe even broken.
Thankfully there is a simple ever day practice that can help ease the pains of this relentlessly pressure: Mindfulness and Mediation. These Monk Skills are so simple they are often over looked or disregarded. But you need these skills in your tool box, and having them will help you stay steady in the storm.
The monk skill of mindfulness is simply taking the time to reflect on the positives you have. There are a couple of ways I do this, one of which should work well for you.
the weekly planner I use has a spot set up specifically for capturing things I am grateful for. Having a written record of the things I was grateful for lets me research and reflect on the good things that happen in spite of the challenges I face. You can get a free copy of the Weekly Planner to help you start tracking your gratitude.
5 Minute Journal
I keep a small Moleskin Notebook on my night stand and use it in the morning and evening to answer some simple questions.
In the morning I list:
- Three things I am thankful for – Be specific and avoid being to metaphysical about it. I try to focus on people, events, and resources I have.
- Three things that would make today great – List what you want to do or have done at the end of the day
- Three Things I am – Positive self affirmation is useful as long as you are realistic, I tend to keep these in the realm of the actual (ie: I am a father)
In the evening I list:
- Three great things that happened today – Pretty self explanatory, if you need help think of things at home, at work, and at play.
- Three things I could have done to make the day better – Just be honest with yourself
Family Time Discussions
One of the best mindfulness practices you can have is to talk with others about the positive things in your day. We have a set of questions we go over at dinner every night that help us to be mindful about our days.
- What did you do today to get Smarter, Faster, and Stronger? (we call this SMASTER)
- What was your favorite part of the day?
- What did you do wrong, and what did you do right?
The Monk Skill of mediation is used to control the mind and keep it from running rampant. I use some simple forms of formal and informal meditation
This is what most people think about when they hear meditation. Sitting still with your eyes closed focusing on controlling your thoughts.
Andy Puuicombe does an amazing job explaining the power and benefits of meditation. His App Head Space was my first introduction to meditation and I highly recommend it.
Informal mediation is more adhoc and can be easily worked into your daily routine. These are adaptive behaviors that effect the way your physiology responds and triggers your brain to act a certain way.
The Scottish Shower
Ever notice how some of your most interesting thoughts come in the shower? This is because the hot water and generates a physiological response in your body that signals your brain to relax. In this state your mind can wander, twist around and bend.
To kick this up a notch, you can trigger another physiological response but taken that warm relaxing hot water and turning it over to cold. The cold water hits you with a mild stress response that gets the brain into a state of focus and control. This is an uncomfortable, but great way to shock your body and mind into action.
Simple put, oxygen is most critical thing your body needs. Deep breathing exercises help you oxygenate your blood fueling both your brain and your muscles. You can try box breathing or the Wim Hof Method… or just take a series of deep breaths, in through the nose and mouth exhaling hard to empty your lungs.
Some people will include yoga in with formal meditation, but I like to use yoga throughout my day especially during my work outs to center my mind and to prepare my body. You can learn a lot of the basics with the Yoga Studio App and then just work them into your day and your work outs.
I do a series of earth salutations as an active recovery during my dead lifts. This helps protect my back and keep me from loosing focus and lifting incorrectly.
Do you have any mindfulness or meditation recommendations?
Come on over to our closed facebook discussion group to share your thoughts and join in the discussion. Or you can email me directly at Jon@masteryofskill.com. If you are interested in further reading check out other Food for Thought articles and learn all about the Archetypes of Skill. You can also sign up to receive The Friday Huddle, a short weekly email from me that gives you the tips, insights, and musings that have gotten me through the week.