by: Willie Horton
Once our day gets going it is the easiest thing in the world to get swept away by the routine, the urgent (which, by the way, is quite different from the important), the latest minor crisis (which probably seems major at the time) or, most common of all, the endless stream of useless thought that simply distracts us. Even if you have made the effort and started your day properly, it is simply all too easy to become submerged in the cares and worries of the moment and, as a result, revert to our default state of unfocused mindlessness.
So, first things first, what does starting your day properly mean? Well, none of us would even think about leaving the house physically unprepared for the day ahead. We wash and dress ourselves – shaving or applying the odd dab of make-up as appropriate! On the other hand, most of us unwittingly leave the house each morning completely and totally mentally unprepared for the day ahead. Starting the day properly means ensuring that, before you leave the house, you have taken the appropriate step or steps to clear your mind and focus y energy.
Practical Tip #1
I recommend five to ten minutes ‘mental preparation’ for the day ahead. Find somewhere quiet, where you won’t be disturbed, to sit and focus on what your five senses are telling you – one sense at a time. This ensures that you’re focused on what is actually going on rather than simply letting your subconscious mind‘s programs automatically run your life. Remember, if you don’t do this, those deep-seated programs will produce your normal knee-jerk reactions throughout the day – not to what is actually happening but to what your subconscious mind believes is happening. Also remember, if left to its own devices, this is your default state of mind – the one that gets us into so much trouble.
So, You’ve Started the Day Properly
OK, let’s say that you’ve got your day off to the perfect start, you’re switched on, tuned in, focused, alert and ready for action. However, even little things like a delayed train, like getting stuck in heavy traffic, like someone asking you to do something unexpectedly – so many little things can knock us off balance. And I haven’t even mentioned the bigger challenges that our ordinary lives throw at us! The truth is that, because of our default state of mindlessness, it is all too easy to slip and slide effortlessly into mental oblivion as the day progresses. What we need to do is ensure that, during the day, we pause to catch our breath – literally.
Practical Tip #2
Age-old wisdom places great store on the opportunity that our breathing affords us to clear the mind of useless noise and distraction and, consequently, focus the energy. So, here’s a simple, quick and entirely practical tip – because, after all, you have to breathe anyway! Take a few moments – moments is all that it takes – at various points throughout the day to stop yourself in your tracks, drop whatever you’re doing and turn your attention to the reality of the moment and your existence in the here and now, as you breathe in and out. Focus your attention on what it feels like to breathe. Notice how your body gently moves and responds with each breath that you take, with each breath in and each breath out. Pay attention to the way your chest, shoulders and abdomen rise and fall each time you inhale, each time you exhale. Become fully aware of the way in which the air passes through your nose. What I mean by this is actually notice that the air is passing through your leftnostril, your right nostril or both nostrils simultaneously . Give thanks for the reality that you are alive and breathing. Pay attention to nothing else for these few moments. Inevitably, the hassles and cares of the moment and the useless thoughts and worries with which we are all plagued will start start crowding your mind. When this happens (it’s not a question of if, because, once again you must remember that this is your default state of mind) take three deeper breaths to refocus your mind. As you breathe, realize that whatever might be doing your head in right now will be completely forgotten in months, weeks, days or even hours.
The Reality of a Focused Mind
It is unusual to be focused. Research indicates that 96% of us are not focused at all – never focused during the course of our adult lives. It is unusual to the extent that, if you develop your focus, you will become unusually – or extra-ordinarily – successful and happy. After all, you must understand that, with an alert, focused and ready mind, anything is possible.