We hear about incredible feats when the mind overcomes the body’s physical limitations but is it possible to learn how to practice mind over matter?
It’s a cold, damp, and ultimately gloomy Monday Morning. Having woken, dressed, fed, and wrestled your children into your car, you find yourself brought to a sudden halt in the gridlocked, rush hour traffic.
You hardly see the cars surrounding you as your mind races over all the scheduled meetings, projects, and deadlines you’re facing in the coming day.
Already the stress is building at a steady pace and you haven’t even started the work week yet. Can you practice mind over matter techniques? You barely have time to pull on matching shoes!
There’s no denying that modern life moves at a frantic pace, we are taught that multi-tasking is an ability to be prized above all. Speaking on the phone, whilst carrying on a conversation with your superior, at the same time you’re frantically tapping at your keyboard, whilst trying not to focus too much on the IM that’s popped up on your screen calling you to a meeting you’re already late for.
Stress begins in the brain but quickly extends to being a full-body phenomenon. When we experience a threat, either real or imagined, our brains trigger a cascade of stress hormones leading to a pounding heart and head, tense muscles, and a shortage of breath.
“Stress Begins in the brain but quickly extends to being a full body phenomenon”
It is always better to tackle a problem at its source, which is what we must do when facing down the issue of burgeoning stress. It begins in the brain so it is here we must look to ultimately redesign the way we think and react to everyday pressures. The way we do this is by utilizing mind over matter by practicing mindfulness techniques.
How to Practice Mind Over Matter
Mindfulness is a state of being in which we are fully conscious of where we are in that present moment, what we are doing and what is going on around us. This may sound counter-productive when we’re in the midst of a hectic environment, but by training our brains to be completely focused on what’s currently at hand, we are keeping at bay the stress and anxiety of the tasks and deadlines that are not yet upon us.
These techniques can easily be learned and expanded upon alone, mindfulness is something to cultivate and practice on a regular basis, so try to find at least 20 minutes a day to rehearse the following methods. Remember, there is no expectation with mindfulness, so if you have less time or miss a day don’t be too hard on yourself.
Just commit to doing as best as you can. Here are 3 simple methods to use when learning how to practice mind over matter?
How to Practice Mind Over Matter in 3 Steps
The simple act of drawing air in and out of our lungs is an essential element to being mindful. We are usually so rushed in our day-to-day that we do not breathe properly, limiting oxygen supplies to the brain and effectively enabling the negative parts of the brain to take control.
Take a seat and get comfortable. Notice yourself breathing in and out and focus on that for a moment. Inhale and pause for a second before slowly exhaling all air from your lungs.
Repeat this for at least one minute; inhale, pause, exhale slowly. Imagine you are drawing in positive energy, the pause is allowing you to store this energy in your body and the long exhale is expelling all negative energy from your body.
It’s natural that your mind will try to jump onto different thoughts. Don’t get frustrated by this, instead gently bring your focus onto your breathing.
Do this for at least one minute and you will feel your mind calm and your body relax.
We are usually so busy with what is going on in our lives that we rarely stop to observe what is going on around us. Doing this for a small-time every day can teach us to appreciate life at a slower pace.
Take a moment to sit or stand quietly and observe all that is happening around you. You may be walking through a park on your way home for example. Take a seat and look around you. You may also practice the breathing exercise at the same time though it isn’t essential.
Notice the sounds around you; are leaves being rustled by a gentle breeze? Can you hear birds chirping to each other in greeting, Children shouting excitedly as they bring imagination to life?
Now notice the smells; has the grass been cut recently? Are you sitting next to sweet-smelling flowers or are houses close by cooking up a storm outside?
“Take a moment to sit or stand quietly and observe all that is happening around you”
Touch next, can you feel the gentle rays of the sun heating your skin, or a breeze move your hair? What is the material of your seat? If you’re on the grass can you feel the blades of grass lighting pricking your palms?
Finally, what do you see? This is the real aim of taking the time out. Is there a family smiling and sitting with each other? Perhaps a stranger walking alone that looks deep in concentration, you wonder what’s on their mind and if the hardships of the day have taken their toll as they slowly amble towards home.
Utilizing our senses in this way ensures we are experiencing a moment, that we are living in the now. Taking time to question what other people go through in their day-to-day lives can lead to an increase in empathy and understanding.
Don’t be so quick to accept your first judgment, there is a myriad of reasons a person may be doing what they’re doing and it is very rarely the reason you think. Simply be in the moment, in a non-judgemental fashion.
3) Experience A Routine
Sometimes it feels as if we are operating on autopilot, we jump from one task to another with our minds in a completely different direction. Before we know it, several hours have passed and you question how time could have possibly passed so quickly.
Pick something you do often. Let’s use washing the dishes as an example. Try to keep your focus on everything you are doing during this activity and experience it all.
Feel as you immerse your hands and the sting of water that’s slightly too warm as it connects with your skin. Notice the sounds of the water as it is disturbed, the clashing of cutlery on crockery, and the squeaks of the dishes as they come out clean.
This is an exercise similar to observation, what you are doing is making sure that you are fully in the moment.
Time is precious and you don’t want it to slip by without noticing. The above exercises are designed to bring your mind into alignment with your surroundings. By practicing these techniques, it will be easy for you to maintain them for longer periods. You will experience joy at a higher level, feel more relaxed and your mind will gravitate to a calm state.
“Time is precious and you don’t want it to slip by without noticing.”
By using these three simple techniques you’ll know exactly how to practice mind over matter.