At the beginning of Humanergy’s meetings, our mindfulness expert, Launda Wheatley, helps us focus. She takes us through a series of breathing and centering activities that clear our minds and prepare us to engage in the meeting with concentration and purpose.
I was surprised recently when she asked us to actively notice the distractions in our minds – the next meeting that needed prep, how to get dinner going before soccer practice…
I often feel guilty about my struggle to stay fully present, so my impulse is to get rid of distractions. I usually try to get those thoughts out of my brain through brute force – dragging myself back to the task at hand, feeling frustrated at my lack of self-discipline.
Launda encourages a more gentle embracing of our many commitments. No judgment. Just noticing those other things there without closing them off or pushing them down.
Here’s Launda’s refocus strategy: Sit up tall, inhaling for a count of 4, holding the breath for 1 count and exhaling for 5-6 counts. Do this up to 5 times to regain clarity. If distractions pull you away from this breathing, place your hand on your heart and acknowledge the distraction with compassionate awareness. Then begin again.
The amazing thing is that when we simply notice that they are there, distracting thoughts tend to fade away. Focus returns, without brute force or recriminations.
If you find yourself flitting from one thought or activity to another, take a break. Focus on your breathing for a couple of minutes, noticing the ideas that creep in. Watch them disappear into the background, allowing you to hone in on what’s important. You’ll still have lots to do, but you’ll approach each task with renewed energy.
We can’t wait to hear about what mindfulness is helping you accomplish. Talk to us.
Photo from iStockphoto.